Reviews

Rust and Bone

By Caleb Lewis based on three stories by Craig Davidson. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton, VIC. 16 – 27 November, 2016.

The rust is the taste of your own blood in your mouth.  The bones are what get broken, smashed and crushed.  This is a play about fighting, about male aggression and violence.  About being robbed of power.  Caleb Lewis has taken stories by Craig Davidson of three men – a boxer, a fighting dog breeder/trainer, and an Orca trainer at Sea World - and woven them together into a sort of contrapuntal aural montage so that the three stories and the three men who tell them bounce off each other, illuminating, contrasting and yet revealing what they have in common.

The Accused

By Jeffrey Archer. Castle Hill Players. The Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill Showground. 18 November to 10 December, 2016.

Director Bernard Teuben brings the tension and theatricality of the courtroom to the stage in this absorbing drama by well-known novelist (and one time guest of Her Majesty’s prisons) Jeffrey Archer. With the Scales of Justice towering above on a huge and colourful backdrop, the stage transforms to the pomp and be-wigged ceremony of the Old Bailey and the trial of cardiologist Patrick Sherwood (Jason Spindlow) – charged with murdering his wife by administering the poison potassium chloride.

Songs for a New World

Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown. New World Theatre. Director: Melanie Evans. Musical Director: Andrew Wadley. Act 1 Theatre, Strathpine, Qld. 17-20 Nov 2016

Sometimes a production comes along that sparkles like a true gem. New World Theatre’s Songs for a New World is just that.

Four experienced performers, Lara Boyle, Simon Chamberlain, Liam J. O’Byrne and Natalie Ridoutt, all with great voices and acting chops, brought Jason Robert Brown’s popular song cycle thrillingly to life. There was no denying their passion for the material, or the brilliance of the four-piece orchestra under musical director Andrew Wadley on keyboard.

Seminar

By Theresa Rebeck. Artefact Theatre Co. Directed by Martin Cox. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). November 9 – 26, 2016.

Theresa Rebeck, famous for her television writing but also a Pulitzer Prize nominee, has written a fine play in Seminar. Full of snappy one-liners to please a main stage audience, it also delves deeply into the psyche of the writer and the constant struggle between art and craft. Real writers - true storytellers - are born, not made.

Tartuffe

Play by Moliere. Adaptation: Justin Fleming. Queensland Theatre/Black Swan Theatre Company. Director: Kate Cherry. Playhouse, QPAC. 12 Nov – 4 Dec 2016.

Moliere’s Tartuffe seems to be flavour of the month at the moment with Sydney Theatre Company joining forces with the State Theatre Company of South Australia to present a version adapted by Phillip Kavanagh, and this co-production between Queensland Theatre and Black Swan Theatre Company by Justin Fleming.

Shining City

By Conor McPherson. Directed by Gabrielle-Rose Carter. Q44 Theatre. November 8 – 27, 2016

Conor McPherson is a deceptive playwright who brilliantly marries a witty and accessible primary level of storytelling with deep subtext that often takes us to places we would rather not go. Simple dialogue is openly accessible, but to reach the depth of McPherson’s subtext and philosophy is like taking a giant leap down a well. It takes highly skilled actors and a fine director to go down that well and discover just how deep it is. Fortunately Q44 – a little company that continually mines the well in its quest for excellence – has those actors, and that director.

Calendar Girls

By Tim Firth. St Jude's Players (SA). November 17 – 26, 2016

Director Brian Knott has assembled a stellar cast to bring the heart-warming story of Calendar Girls to life for St Jude’s Players. Based on a true story, it follows the attempts of six mature lasses from the Women’s Institute in the North of England, who, after experiencing loss, find themselves raising money for a settee in a cancer ward at the nearby hospital.

LadyCake

Written, performed & directed by Candace Miles, Madelaine Nunn & Anna Rodway. Three Birds Theatre. Poppy Seed Theatre Festival. Trades Hall, New Ballroom. 15 – 27 November 2016

They are the gracefully gliding, giggling, girlish devoted handmaidens to Princess-then-Queen Marie Antoinette – she who famously said (or did she?) ‘Let them eat cake.’  Marie Antoinette - the political pawn, child bride, queen, breeder, fashion icon, hobby farmer, adulteress, dilettante, victim and dead.  Her handmaidens live vicariously, each convinced that Marie is her best friend (‘This morning, when I was emptying her chamber pot, she touched my hand!’), but all sharing with her every high, every low, every triumph, every disappointment

Tiny Remarkable Bramble

By Jessica Tuckwell. Invisible Circus / The Impending Room. Kings Cross Theatre. Nov 6 – 25, 2016

Jessica Tuckwell’s play is as strange as its title suggests. It’s very absurdist, a little farcical and even a little moralistic … I think! It’s the sort of play you think you’ve worked out until you start talking about it and realise that other people saw it from a completely different angle. But that’s the sort of play that directors and actors love. A play that allows the chance for creative workshopping and even a little whacky characterisation, but one that also requires really tight direction and concentrated pace.

Chess: The Musical

Music by Benny Andersson & Bjorn Ulvaeus. Lyrics: Tim Rice. GSODA Inc. Director: Debbie Fraser. Vocal Director: Adelle Gregory. Musical Director: Damien Montalto. Choreographer: Jules Hart. Playhouse Theatre, Geelong Performing Arts Centre. October 7-15, 2016.

As a classic musical, everyone knows at least one or two songs from Chess (‘One Night in Bangkok’, ‘I Know Him So Well’) – even if you’ve never seen it.

Inspired by the life of Russian chess player, Garry Kasparov, the story looks at how global politics play out in something as innocuous as a chess competition.

In every scene, an unexpected level of detail and professionalism pervades GSODA’s version of Chess.

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