Reviews

Summer Season 2019

The Australian Ballet School. Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne 6 and 7 December, 2019

Following Australian Government decisions that have many arts professionals concerned about the sector’s future, the young artists of The Australian Ballet School offer some hope. 100 performers delivered the annual Summer Season, a timely reminder of the local talent being brewed, and the importance of not letting it go cold.

Almost Face to Face

Written and Performed by Stephen House. Directed by Peter Green. Bakehouse Studio Theatre, Angas Street, Adelaide. 4-14 Dec, 2019.

Stephen House is a performer with the skills to sustain interest in a monologue over the course of an hour and to still leave his audience potentially wanting more.

In a style somewhere between that of a casual raconteur and an intense confessional poet, House takes us vividly into a world that will be largely unfamiliar to most; a world of compulsive sex and easy access to drugs, of sad reclusive lives looking for comfort in the arms of fellow misfits, of communal activities leading to a dance with death…

Punk Rock

By Simon Stephens. Patalog Theatre. At fortyfivedownstairs, Flinders Lane. 4 – 15 December 2019

This 2009 play has not dated at all.  If anything, it is more timely, more plugged into the zeitgeist than ever.  Perhaps that is one reason there is another production of it somewhere, every couple of years, including in Spain and France.  It is set in an English private school, specifically in the seniors’ library, which no adult – at least in the play – ever enters.  The characters are teenagers, but this is not The O.C.

Dick Whittington and His Cat

By Vicky Orman. Roleystone Theatre. Directed by Nicola Beard. Roleystone Community Hall, WA. Dec 7-15, 2019

Perth has experienced some charming pantomimes recently, and Roleystone Theatre’s Dick Whittington and His Cat is a lovely show which embodies community spirit and goodwill.

The Ghost Train

By Arnold Ridley. Harbour Theatre. Directed by Ann Speicher. Camelot Theatre, Mosman Park, WA. Dec 6-14, 2019

The Ghost Train, said to be “one of the scariest plays of all time”, is brought to life with lots of chills by Harbour Theatre.

The story of a collection of travellers, stranded at an isolated station overnight in some very spooky circumstances, is given credibility with some of the best technical teamwork of the year, with lighting and sound design by Rob Tagliaferri and Vanessa Gudgeon helping to create some frightening effects.

The Return Of Grazie Fibonacci

The Butterfly Club, Melbourne. Dec 2 – 7, 2019

 A mild mannered Mark Gambino greets his audience in a laid-back, unassuming  confident style. Lights down, the show begins. He introduces himself as Grazie Fibonacci and sings an Italian version of “Luna Mezzo Mare” in this encore season of his show The Return of Gracie Fibonacci.

The Split

By Sarah Hamilton. House of Sand and Old 505 Theatre. Dec 3 – 14, 2019

A heterosexual, millennial couple are adrift on a boat playing out their last days together before their inevitable split.  

An easy, even touching familiarity, some aimless chat, binds them together, but irritabilities flare and we see they rarely touch each other.  Tom glumly strums guitar, Jules draws and gazes at the horizon; there’s sunbaking, card-games and silly aping of musical favourites.

The Wiz

Music & Lyrics: Charlie Smalls. Book: William F. Brown. Based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. QPAC & ACPA. Director/Choreographer: Simon Lind. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 5-7 December 2019

Stages around the country have been awash with musicals in green costumes about the land of Oz for years (Wicked/The Wizard of Oz) but this black version, except for a live Christmas outing on NBC in 2015, has rarely been seen despite a good score by Charlie Smalls. Bravely, ACPA (Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts) have now redressed the situation mounting an ambitious but enjoyable student production.

The Father

By Florian Zeller. Translated by Christopher Hampton, Townsville Little Theatre. Pimpac Theatre, Townsville. 4- 7 Dec 2019.

IT IS A very brave move for an amateur company to tackle an intense play of this nature, but thanks to an excellent play and a strong central performance, by and large this production was reasonably successful.

Gianni Schicchi

Music: Puccini. Libretto: Forzano. Gold Coast Opera. Director: Doug Gehike. Cultural Centre, Helensvale G.C. November 29th & 30th, 2019.

The conniving relatives (pictured) of the dying Gianni Schicchi are like many families who have crossed our paths; pleasant on the surface but self-centred underneath and it was on show for all to see.

Doug Gehike’s direction of this popular Puccini one act comic opera was a joyous experience. The vitriolic family members were individually and collectively out for everything they could lay their hands on.

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