Reviews

Our House

Songs by Madness, book by Tim Firth. The Regional Institute of Performing Arts. Civic Playhouse, Newcastle. December 10-12, 2015.

THE songs of ska-pop group Madness generally fit well into this musical which was given a lively and enjoyable Australian premiere staging by the graduating Advanced Diploma in Arts (Acting) students at Hunter TAFE.

Tim Firth put together an unusual story, with the central character, Joe Casey, breaking into a new apartment building so that he can show the girl who is helping him celebrate his 16th birthday his family’s historic adjoining London suburban house.

A(f)fair Play

By Sam Floyd. Freshly Ground Theatre. The Mechanics Institute Brunswick. 9 – 19 December 2015

A bickering young couple, Trish and Craig (Lucy Norton and Remy Coll) prepares to welcome another young couple, Olivia and Sean (Anthea Greco and Sam Floyd) for dinner. Trish is snippy and brittle; Craig is jumpy and distracted.  Olivia and Sean arrive.  She’s shy and self-deprecating; he’s cocky and a little aggressive. The couples seem scarcely to know each other, but we quickly learn (spoiler alert) that Olivia and Craig are having an affair. 

Clancestry

Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Nov 30 – Dec 6, 2015.

Clancestry, A Celebration of Country, is back again at QPAC for a week of visual art, workshops, song, dance and market stalls, highlighting the continuation and dynamic evolution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in Australia.

Goblins

By Jeni Bezuidenhout & Cassandra-Elli Yiannacou, La Mama EXPLORATIONS, 205 Faraday Street 7, 8 & 9 December, 2015.

Panoptican Collective has extremely admirable goals that aim to increase social responsibility and raise awareness about social injustice. These objectives are fully fleshed out in this play. Six female stories trace the very long history of the abuse, oppression and marginalisation of women across of range of social and political contexts. Each story is inspired by literary and historical figures and told entirely from the perspective of the individual experience of persecution.

A Riff on Keef: The Human Myth

By Benito Di Fonzo. Ocelot Productions and Griffin Independent. SBW Stables Theatre. Nov 27 – Dec 12, 2015

Benito Di Fonzo has written three impossibly titled, poetical plays about his heroes – Bob Dylan, Lenny Bruce and now that shaman of guitarists, Keith Richards. 

A Riff on Keef: The Human Myth is no incisive exploration into Richards’ times, character or startling longevity; but more a wandering William Burroughs style mediation on his moods, his chemical and musical quest.

The One

By Vicky Jones. Directed by Tanya Dickson. Poppy Seed Festival. 45 Downstairs. 2nd-13th December, 2015

Poppy Seed Festival ends its inaugural (and interesting) event with Vicky Jones’ much lauded play The One. Truth be told, the play itself is a pale imitation of Edward Albee’s magnificent Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. But where the latter seethes and boils with molten lava of vitriol, the best The One can do is simmer, off the boil, without ever threatening or going over the edge, and so we remain always as observers, never involved in the tension or in any danger.

The Good Doctor

By Neil Simon. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). Director: Sandra Bates. Nov 27, 2015 to Jan 17, 2016, then Glen Street Theatre Jan19 – 24, 2016

In The Good Doctor Neil Simon uses several works by Chekhov to create a series of short plays linked by a conversation between the writer – obviously based on Chekov himself– and the audience. The stories – vignettes really – are typical Chekhovian insights into the Russia of his time. The way they are brought to the stage is typical Simon: clearly drawn characters and witty dialogue that relies for effect on good timing and creative direction.

The Contrabandista / Cavalleria Rusticana

By Arthur Sullivan and F. C. Burnand / Pietro Mascagni. GSOV. Director: Andrew Glaubert. Musical Director: Timothy Wilson. Malvern Theatre (Vic). Nov 26 – 29, 2015.

The first season of this double bill was so successful, that Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Victoria decided to repeat it at a different venue. Of course not everyone was available, so there were some performers new to their roles and, as it had been double cast in the first instance, many were new to me.

The Contrabandista was just as much fun the second time around, and the new Rita, Alison McIntosh-Deszcz, sang well and looked lovely. Her new Vasquez, Danny Starr, a musical theatre performer, has a very good voice, but struggled with the high tessitura.

Violet

Music by Jeanine Tesori, Book and lyrics by Brian Crawley. Directed by Mitchell Butel. Hayes Theatre, Sydney. Nov 27 - Dec 20, 2015

This is the type of show that we rarely see in Australia. Thankfully the Hayes (alongside venues like Theatre Works and Chapel Off Chapel in Melbourne) is providing a home for small-scale, independent musicals, often staged as dream projects of performers. In this case, it’s the first full musical by Blue Saint Productions, established by Joshua Robson (Les Miserables) and Damien Bermingham (Strictly Ballroom).

Hugh Jackman - Broadway to Oz

Sydney Entertainment Centre. Presented by Paul Dainty and Robert Fox.

It was his home town. His father, wife, daughter and close friends were in the audience. Hugh Jackman sang and spoke as if he was in a small cabaret venue, not a vast arena filled with ten thousand disciples.

His rendition of I’ve Been Everywhere Man was most apt. His father took his family on endless road trips around Australia as children. The song’s lyrics includes the suburb where he was raised … Turramurra.

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