Reviews

Kid Stakes

Written by Ray Lawler. Directed by Christine Grant. The Basin Theatre Group. Aug 16th- Sept 8th, 2013.

No-one would deny that Lawler’s Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll is an iconic Australian play, but the prequel, Kid Stakes, written twenty years later, is not in the same league. In fact, it’s so mundane that it seems like an episode of a 1937 soapie. Therein lies the problem for TBTG, who have given me so many hours of enjoyment. Christine Grant is a very good director, I know that from previous offerings, yet she has chosen a very “middle of the road” – and thus uninspiring – approach to Lawler’s character and text.

The Comedy of Errors

Written by William Shakespeare. Directed by Imara Savage. Bell Shakespeare Fairfax Studio. Arts Centre Melbourne from Aug 20 to 31, 2013 and touring until December 7.

Most of we drama lovers are so in awe of William Shakespeare that we tend to forget that not every play is a masterpiece. Indeed, some of them are downright clunky, full of plot holes, awful exposition and are as subtle as an episode of “Mrs Brown’s Boys”.  The Comedy of Errors is one such play, written early in Will’s career as a crowdpleaser for the masses. The plot may have been new 500 years ago, but now the story of mistaken identity and separated twins, of coincidence and convenience, is just overworked.

How to Survive an Earthquake.

Written by Christine Croyden. Directed by Glenda Linscott. Presented by Melbourne Writers’ Theatre. La Mama Courthouse (Vic). Until September 1, 2013.

On the surface, Ms Croyden’s reunion drama about two sisters Stephanie (Jessica Gerger) and Jane (Sarah Plummer) reuniting on the eve of their mother’s funeral wears its dark and damaged heart immovably on its sleeve. There is the typical point-scoring banter about who did what to whom and how much more difficult life has been for one more so than the other.

Seminar

By Theresa Rebeck. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Anna Crawford. 21 August – 14 September, 2013

Here’s a fine, sparky 2011 Broadway play that has slipped through the STC/MTC net and been snaffled by an alert Ensemble programming team. Theresa Rebeck’s fizzing dialogue keeps the audience alert throughout a 100-minute discussion on writers and the modern novel.

Set and direction are first rate, and the excellent 5-actor ensemble shows the Ensemble at its best. Up very close and personal, these actors give tense, truthful, often very funny performances, revelling in the crisp New York exchanges, plot twists and character surprises.

 

Stomp 13

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions (UK). Melbourne August 20 – 25, 2013; Adelaide from Aug 27 to Sept 1; Canberra from Sept 3 – 8; Sydney from Sept 10.

Stomp ’13, a sublime blend of dance, comedy, percussion, juggling, and martial arts, challenges easy categorisation.

 

Storm Boy

By Colin Thiele, adapted for the stage by Tom Holloway. Sydney Theatre Company and Barking Gecko Theatre. Director: John Sheedy. Wharf 1 Theatre, Sydney. Aug 8 - Sept 11, 2013. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA. September 21 - October 5, 2013 5.

From the moment this play opens - fittingly with a storm, this is a captivating, beautifully realised production lovingly retells Colin Thiele's children's novel, for audiences of any age.

This first collaboration between Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company is a worthy one - with Barking Gecko's artistic director at the directive helm of this stunning play.

The set - evocative of a whale skeleton, cliff top, sand dune and wave is a beautiful canvas for this production, an earthy organic design by Michael Scott-Mitchell.

Outside The Box

A Candlelight Production in conjunction with Servants Community Housing. Chapel off Chapel. Director Mardee Kaylock. 16th-31st August, 2013.

Fringe theatre in Melbourne tends to fall largely (though not always) into two categories:- the self indulgent, undercooked, and amateurish; and the pretentious, obscure, and alienating. Outside The Box is different, and truly lives up to its title. For one thing Candlelight Productions is a non-profit arts organisation that is truly trying to change community perceptions. Servants is a group which provides community housing to those isolated, alienated, marginalised…mostly by mental illness.

night maybe

By Kit Brookman. Stuck Pigs Squealing. TheatreWorks (Vic). 15 August – 1 September, 2013

Sasha is left in the dark when her brother walks off. As she hunts him down she meets several characters – are they manifestations of the brother, or herself? Is this reality or subconscious?

This production is visually outstanding. The first eerie lighting change from house lights draws us onstage through the drifting haze to reveal a park at night with real trees and grass. The actors are side lit throughout most of the performance and this works beautifully, with the actors never missing their marks. 

The Little Black Dress Suite

Choreographer: Martin del Amo. Form Dance Projects and Riverside. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. Aug 15 – 17, 2013.

In this suite of solo performances, Martin del Amo’s contribution to Dance Bites 2013 brings together four pieces for which, over the past two years, the Little Black Dress was the recurring costume.

In each piece, the iconic costume is taken out of its usual glamorous context into choreography that is ultra contemporary, highly interpretative and tightly controlled.

The Phantom of the Opera

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics: Charles Hart; additional lyrics: Richard Stilgoe; book: Richard Stilgoe, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Presented by Craig Wellington Productions and The Tasmanian Theatre Unit Trust In Association with The Old Nick Company Inc. Director: Ingrid Ganley. Musical Director: Aaron Powell. Theatre Royal, Hobart. 9 -24 August 2013 (with season extended by one week to August 31).

With theatre rights for The Phantom of the Opera recently being made available for performance by amateur/community theatre production in Australia, Craig Wellington Productions was quick to secure the rights for performance in Hobart. The Craig Wellington production is pro-am, or “an amateur company production, although the majority of the principals are professionals, giving their services for free”. 

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