Reviews

War Horse

Adapted by Nick Stafford from the novel by Michael Morpurgo. National Theatre Live (cinema screening of Britain’s National Theatre production). Participating cinemas nationwide from March 8, 2014.

The National Theatre’s production of War Horse has attracted so much media coverage since it was brought to the London stage that any review is inevitably going to cover well-trodden ground for those familiar with the show. Brought to us as part of the wonderful NT Live series of UK theatre productions recorded in hi-def video and presented in cinemas nationally by Sharmill Films, War Horse tells the deeply affecting story of a boy and his horse.

Mr Bennet’s Bride

By Emma Wood. Newcastle Theatre Company. Directed by Julie Black. The NTC Theatre, Lambton (Newcastle). 8 – 22 March, 2014.

Newcastle writer Emma Wood’s comedy about a young man forced to find a bride swiftly is a delight in this premiere production, with director Julie Black and the cast ensuring that the laughter does not obscure the serious side of the situations.

Wood has used references in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice to the backgrounds of the ill-matched parents of the Bennet sisters to show how they came together. But audience members don’t need to be familiar with Pride and Prejudice to enjoy the tale.

Rent

By Jonathan Larson. Campbelltown Theatre Group. Mar 7 – 22, 2014

Campbelltown Theatre Group's 2014 season kicked off to a good start with its production of Rent. There's much to like about this production.

Rob Thompson's choreography is spot on and always enhances the scene (good to see a choreographer who knows when NOT to choreograph). MD Craig Davidson cooks a really tight band and gets great harmonies from the cast. First time director Ruth Smith does a good job moving the show along.

On Golden Pond

By Ernest Thompson. Mousetrap Theatre, Redcliffe (Qld). 7-22 March 2014.

This is the best production I have seen of this play. It rollicked along, making light of the black humour, and forging believably rounded characters.

It indulged the foibles we develop in old age, acknowledged our fears of inescapable death, ennobled family relationships and left us, by the end, elevated and walking out with a lighter step.

Danny and the Deep Blue Sea

By Patrick Shanley. Subtext Theatre. Directed by Leslie Simpson. The Owl and the Pussycat (Vic). 6 – 15 March, 2014.

John Patrick Shanley’s finely crafted Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is a moving modern classic that offers actors a chance to shine as tetchy volatile individuals navigating raw intimacy.

In this production Tanya Walker as Roberta and Ange Arabatzis as Danny take up the challenge and explore a gritty text with gusto, focus and the deftly perceptive assistance of director Leslie Simpson.

Twelfth Night

By William Shakespeare. Sport For Jove Theatre Company. Riverside Theatre Parramatta, Mar 5 – 8, 2014 & Seymour Centre, Sydney April 1 – 9, 2014.

Foot-tapping 1960s hits boom around the theatre pre-show; a wooden jetty juts out into the audience; and on a pontoon in the centre of the stage a beach party on the shore of Illyria is in full swing, with Count Orsino (Anthony Gooley) preening amongst his courtiers!

The Winter’s Tale

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Director: John Bell. Sydney Opera House, Playhouse. March 1 – 29, 2014.

My status as a dateless reviewer was laid bare when both couples to my left and right declined to the return after interval. Was it me or the play? I suspect the later.

For starters The Winter’s Tale is one of the more obscure of The Bard’s works,  devoid of any of the more famous Shakespearean phrases or poems that dot the classics. It is part of Shakespeare’s later canon of works which commence with three acts of intense psychological drama.

Good-bye Miss Monroe

By Liam de Burca. danceAtlas production. Director: Liam de Burca. Metro Arts, Brisbane. 7-22 March 2014

Good-bye Miss Monroe is a play that tells the story of “forgotten legend” Hollywood dance-director Jack Cole and takes place in the days following Marilyn Monroe’s tragic suicide in 1962. Cole, who worked with Monroe on six of her movies, was a friend and confidante of the star. The play, set in Cole’s Hollywood Hills home, not only sketches in his working relationship with Monroe but also with Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Betty Grable and Gwen Verdon.

Seven Kilometres North-East

Version 1.0. Seymour Centre, Sydney. March 8 – 22, 2014

Past brutalities inevitably lurk within all historic sites beloved by tourists. Every castellated beauty across Europe hides some hideous story within its dungeons and some places, like Auschwitz and Port Arthur, are even more powerfully etched with human depravity.  How does the tourist travel through this reality behind the brochures?

STOP KISS

By Diana Son. Unlikely Productions, in association with the 2014 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. ATYP Studio 1, The Wharf. Mar 5 – 22, 2014.

STOP KISS is hands-down the best play in this year’s Mardi Gras Festival. Diana Son’s beautiful love story under the inspired direction of Anthony Skuse charms, excites and provokes. Amidst a homophobic act of violence, two women fall unexpectedly in love in what becomes one of the most honest, detailed and heartfelt explorations of same-sex attraction to hit the mainstream stage.

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