Reviews

The Glass Menagerie

By Tennessee Williams. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport (Qld). Director: Noella Johnson. September 7th – 28th, 2013.

The Glass Menagerie is a classic from the pen of American playwright Tennessee Williams.

Set in St Louis in the ‘30s the play is said to be reminiscent of Williams own upbringing.

A small cast of four worked hard to create the dysfunctional family and the Gentleman Caller with a minimalistic set with sombre overtones.

Lifeforce

The Mother of All Musicals - By Joanna Weinberg. Directed by Lisa Freshwater. King Street Theatre, Newtown. September 6 – 21, 2013

At first blush the journey of a 40 year old woman through the highs and lows of fertility treatment  might seem an unlikely subject for a musical.

Yet from this real life drama has emerged one of the brightest new Australian musicals for years, with many a song  seamlessly blending words, music and emotion.

Natalie Lotkin plays the leading lady Ruth, a 40-year-old magazine editor who decides to have a child on her own.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman. Book by Alex Timbers. Squabbalogic. The Factory Floor, Marrickville (NSW). Director: Craig Stewart. Musical Director: Mark Chamberlain. Choreographer: Monique Sallé. August 14 – September 1, 2013.

Raucous rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson celebrates the controversial seventh US president in entertaining style, and in very contemporary vernacular. The raw modern language and driving rock music give the renegade populist politician of 200 years ago a voice of today.

An off-Broadway success in 2009, the show had a short-lived Broadway transfer.

When Time Stops

Natalie Weir / Ian Grandage. Expressions Dance Company with Camerata of St John's. QPAC in association with Brisbane Festival. Playhouse, QPAC. 6-14 September 2013

The greatest triumph of this new work is Iain Grandage’s music, a 70 minute composition for strings played impeccably by the Camerata of St John’s. Contributing to that was Natalie Weir’s concept to choreograph the musicians into the ballet itself. They emerge and disappear as solos, groups or as all twelve players according to Grandage’s demands for each of 14 short scenes that flow together to represent life events that flash past in the final moments of a woman’s life.

Return to Earth

By Lally Katz. ARTHUR and Griffin Independent. SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross. September 4 – 28, 2013

Neither an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, nor the playwright’s note in the program really prepares one for this play, so it’s probably better to go unprepared - and let the play unsettle and confuse you, just as the protagonist, Alice (or is it Erica?) is unsettled and confused.

Kiss of The Spider Woman

Written by Manuel Puig. Translated by Allan Baker. Directed by Chris Baldock. Mockingbird Theatre. The Owl and the Pussycat (Richmond, Vic). Sept 6 – 15, 2013.

No matter how much you talk about the William Hurt – Raul Julia movie; or the somewhat bizarre re-imagining as a musical; or the political climate in Argentina in the 50s, Manuel Puig’s delicate play, from his own novel, is essentially a poignant love story.

Downtown! The Mod Musical

Created by Phillip George, David Lowenstein and Peter Charles Morris. St George Theatre Company (NSW). Hurstville Entertainment Centre. September 5 – 7, 2013.

St George Theatre Company's Downtown! is a slick, vibrant production. Highly entertaining.

Set in England during the swinging 60s, Downtown! is not so much a jukebox musical as it is a revusical (remember those?) using pop hits of the era. This may bother those who aren't familiar with the revue format and prefer strong narrative with loads of subtext. With the songs of Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, plus a bit of Nancy Sinatra, Lulu, and others, the audience is taken on a fast-paced, brightly coloured tour of the social mores of the time.

Sleeping Beauty

A Gothic Romance. Choreographed and Directed by Matthew Bourne. Music by Tchaikovsky. Directed for the screen by Ross Fitzgibbon. Sharmill Films. Limited cinema release Australia-wide September 8th and 9th, 2013

If the Federal election seems like an ugly reality tomorrow, lose yourself in the exquisite fantasy of Sleeping Beauty and feel your imagination and love of true art revitalised on Sunday. Matthew Bourne takes enormous risks with his ballets/theatrical experiences. Purists may object to the contemporary choreography; the fuller body shapes; the lack of stiff tutus and point shoes; the liberties taken with story. Purists need to take their blinkers off.

Shrine

By Tim Winton. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Directed by Kate Cherry. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA, August 31 - September 15, 2013; Albany Entertainment Centre, September 18 & 19 & Canberra Theatre Centre, September 26 – 29.

Given Western Australia's long stretches of dangerous country roads, it is highly likely that we have more than our fair share of roadside shrines, memorialising victims of car accidents.

Written by Tim Winton, Shrine tells of a couple struggling to recover from the loss of their son and a girl who knows a great deal about his final hours.

Spring Comedy Double Bill

Brad Checks In by Paula Noble and Summer of Blood by Robert Armstrong. Blancmange. Tap Gallery, Darlinghurst (NSW). August 27 – September 7, 2013

Reviewing productions involving other Stage Whispers reviewers is an interesting challenge. Stephen Carnell has his producer’s hat on for this double bill of new Australian comedies, as well as directing one of them.

This short season is the very first staging of two new comedies with commercial aspirations (the writers are also co-producers), and both feel in need of further dramaturgy, with Summer of Blood clearly the stronger of the two offerings as they stand.

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