Reviews

They Saw A Thylacine

Created & performed by Justine Campbell & Sarah Hamilton, with Matthew Lutton. Beckett Theatre, Malthouse, Melbourne 15 September – 4 October 2015.

They Saw A Thylacine tells two stories of Tasmanian tigers.  One is in the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart – her story told via the eyewitness account of Alison Reid (Justine Campbell), the zookeeper’s daughter.  Interwoven – or, more accurately, interspersed - with Alison’s tale is the account from an earlier time by a tough, no nonsense bush woman, Beatie or Beatrix (Sarah Hamilton), of her attempt to capture a solitary tiger so as to save and protect her.

Arms and the Man

By George Bernard Shaw. Sydney Theatre Company. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. September 14 – October 31, 2015.

In his program notes director Richard Cottrell uses extensive quotes from TS Eliot and Bertolt Brecht to affirm the talent and prescience of GB Shaw  - but it is just two sentences from Brecht that sum up Cottrell’s production of this insightful satire on false heroism and vanity – “He (Shaw) furnishes the theatre with as much fun as it can take. And it can take a lot”.

Company

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by George Furth. Directed by Kat Henry. Watch This Productions. 45 Downstairs. 17th September – 4th October, 2015

Sondheim’s writing is like an iced burnt cake. The bottom may be hard to swallow and bitter, but the icing on top is there for a reason, to make the cake palatable. Sondheim’s writing is so layered, so full of subtext and nuance that he deliberately uses the icing for a sweet mouthful, so that you won’t taste the bitterness lying just underneath until you’ve swallowed it. Company, the first concept musical, is the epitome of the iced layered cake. The sweet idealism on top…..the burnt bitterness of cynicism and failure underneath.

Torte e Mort: Songs of Cake and Death

Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnston Street, Collingwood (Vic). Thursday 17th September, 2015

You should know this if you didn’t already: Anya Anastasia is a major, major talent. Simpering haughtily onstage  (a tricky combination but she nailed it) in full 18thCentury faux fantasy French dress, towering wig and sequinned – well, everything as Marie Antoinette manquée , Ms Anastasia proceeded to spend the next hour charming, challenging, amusing, delighting and provoking her audience.

Cocktails With Noël and Gertie

Conceived and Directed by Kate Peters. Top Hat Productions. Spotlight Basement Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. September 17th – October 4th, 2015.

Noël Coward devotees have a reason to rejoice! Another opportunity to enjoy The Master’s “talent to amuse”.

Billed as A Marvellous Party, Gold Coast Entertainer Kate Peters has not only captured the essence of Coward’s witty repartee but presented it in style.

Guys and Dolls

Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser. Book by Jo Swerling & Abe Burrows. The Musical Theatre Crew. Director: Leiz Moore. Playouse Theatre, Hobart. 10 - 26 September 2015

It’s fascinating that a show for grownups - with themes of gambling, crime and corruption, set in the seedy, crazy world of 1950s New York gamblers and show girls - can be performed so sweetly and cleverly by a youth theatre group, and still seem authentic. Some of these themes are commonplace nowadays, but for the time in which it was set, Guys and Dolls was risqué.

Prize Fighter

By Future D. Fidel. La Boîte Theatre Company and The Brisbane Festival. Directed by Todd McDonald. Roundhouse Theatre. 9-26 September, 2015

The message behind this play is something one can't ignore. Based both in war-torn Congo and Australia, it's a mythical representation inspired by the author's own personal experiences and his attempt to weave the art of boxing into a symbolic gesture and demonstrate the post-trauma associated with the realities of his past.

Footloose

Book and lyrics by Dean Pitchford. Music by Tom Snow (and Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins, Jim Steinman, Eric Carmen). Directed by Jordan Barr. OCPAC Theatre. Carey Baptist Grammar School, Kew. 13th – 20th September, 2015.

Some terrific choreography, strong singing, excellent casting and lots of energy lift OCPAC’S production of Footloose to a standard far higher than that of the actual show itself, and make for a thoroughly enjoyable night’s entertainment.

Evita

Lyrics by Tim Rice. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. September 9 – 13, 2015.

Musically Evita is about as hard as it gets for a chorus. In the first act a fruity mixture of clashing chords, notes that needed to be plucked from no-where and a mixtures of styles make it hard to perform and difficult for the audience digest.  All this is swished together with regular refrains of the musical theme Don’t Cry for me Argentina and (in this production ) a coffin swinging around the stage with a plastic doll inside.

THEN

By Yve Blake & Co. ATYP Studio 1, The Wharf. Sep 9 – 19, 2015.

With a commitment to collaboration and story telling fueled by her early theatre experiences at ATYP, Yve Blake has created a performance based on over 1000 stories and comments collected on her website WhoWereWe.com. Some are funny, some weird, some very touching and Blake has woven them into a performance of characters that stretches across the generations.

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