Reviews

Short + Sweet Canberra

Play Festival – Gala Final. Festival Director: Trevar Alan Chilver. Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra ACT. August 20, 2016

Short + Sweet is exactly as it’s named: plays that are no longer than 10 minutes. That concentrates the playwright’s mind marvellously, and spurs the director to ingenious solutions. The ten plays shown in the final are the best of a gruelling process over two weeks. Plays come from Canberra, local and interstate theatre companies, and one play from the USA.

Something’s Afoot

Book, Music & Lyrics: James McDonald, David Vos, Robert Gerlach; additional music by Ed Linderman. Directed by: Leah Venattacci and Robert Manion. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Playhouse, Hobart. 2- 17 September 2016

If you love a good murder mystery, Agatha Christie-style, a special treat is the hilarious whodunit Something’s Afoot. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society brings the spoof to the Playhouse Theatre for a good laugh to a good tune or two. Forget laugh-out-loud, this is guffaw-out-loud. How the cast didn’t crack up was a miracle – they certainly threw themselves into the silliness with energy and enjoyment.

Wit

By Margaret Edson. The Artisan Collective. fortyfivedownstairs theatre, Melbourne. 1 – 17 September 2016

This play uses the poetry of John Donne, a nod towards Shakespeare, beautiful music, a spare set, a dynamic soundscape and masterful acting to explore the journey towards death. At the beginning of the play Professor Vivian Bearing (Jane Montgomery Griffiths) announces she has stage four metastatic ovarian cancer and is very likely to die. She reflects on the contribution her teacher, Professor E. M.

Snow White

Ballet by Angelin Preljocaj. Music: Gustav Mahler. Additional Music: 79 D. Ballet Preljocaj. Costumes: Jean Paul Gaultier. Set Design: Thierry Leproust. Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Conductor: Johannes Fritzsch. QPAC, Brisbane Festival Production. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 2-11 September 2016

With abseiling dwarfs, a dominatrix stepmother, and a score that mixed Mahler with electronic riffs, Angelin Preljocaj’s Snow White would seem to have covered all exploitative bases.

A contemporary dance take on the Brothers Grimm 1812 fable, it ran the whole gamut of emotions from jealousy and rage to love and despair, but despite some affecting passages, never truly conveyed the all elusive heart.

Gloria

By Benedict Andrews. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre, Darlinghurst. August 26 – October 8, 2016.

This is the second play written by the celebrated director Benedict Andrews, now running a global career from Iceland.  Critics shredded his first play, Every Breath at Belvoir, about an indulged, bullying family living behind top security.

In Gloria, this time a star actress (Marta Dusseldorp) and her fractious family live high in a penthouse as a dystopian city below explodes into civic mayhem.

Much Ado About Nothing

By William Shakespeare. Presented by Third Door Theatre, Doncaster Playhouse, 679 Doncaster Road, 31 August - 11 September, 2016

Third Door Theatre produce a well-polished and orchestrated performance of this delightful comedy. The modern setting allows for some very clever adaptations of the script. The masquerade ball resonates particularly well with the themes of duplicity and dishonour that dominate the play. Beatrice (Claire Abagia) is undoubtedly the star of the show. Abagia executes a good measure of both the lightness and the drama of her character and this enables her to show a great range and depth of emotion.

Rent

Music, lyrics, and book by Jonathan Larson. Marie Clark Musical Theatre. Goodwood Institute, Adelaide. 30 August - 3 September, 2016.

When a stage musical achieves, at multiple moments, the kind of electricity and warmth that Marie Clark's production of Rent does, one naturally wants to offer a wholehearted recommendation to get along and see it.

Oscar and Felix

By Neil Simon. The Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Arts Theatre. September 1-10th 2016

Why mess with perfection? Neil Simon wrote his smash hit, The Odd Couple in 1965. A story of flawed friendships, it became a huge hit on Broadway and later as a movie and television series. In 2002 Simon reworked his masterpiece to produce an updated version, Oscar and Felix.

Barefoot In The Park

By Neil Simon. Director: Mark Kilmurry. Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli. From 31st August 2016.

Ensemble Theatre’s classy and tasteful production proves that Neil Simon’s 50 year-old comedy classic is just as relevant as ever. Sure, some parts of the script definitely reflect their late ’60’s time frame but what the show is really about hasn’t dated. Neil Simon’s one–liners and quips still zing and the Cast breath zesty life into these characters.

The Beast

By Eddie Perfect. Directed by Simon Phillips. The Comedy Theatre, Melbourne. August 25 – September 10, 2016

Eddie Perfect would be considered a major talent anywhere in the solar system. When The Beast burst onto the scene in 2013 at MTC, it took everyone by surprise. Carefully handled by Director Iain Sinclair, it was perhaps the best offering from MTC that year. Personally I believed we were witnessing the birth of a major new playwright in the style of Edward Albee. The play was flawed, but the potential was breath-taking.

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