Reviews

After Dinner

By Andrew Bovell. State Theatre Company of South Australia. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide. April 7-29, 2018.

With his comedy After Dinner acclaimed Australian playwright Andrew Bovell takes us on a step back, to a time before social media and mobile phones, when if you were looking for love you had to drag yourself out of the house to the local pub or nightclub.

Designer Jonathon Oxlade has done a fine job in capturing the pub dining room of the 80s for this State Theatre of South Australia production; from the apricot tablecloths to the single fake carnation placed in the centre of each table, from the wood panelling on the walls to the insipid pale green carpet.

Constellations

By Nick Payne. 1812 Theatre in association with RedFox3. Director: Justin Stephens. 5th – 28th April, 2018.

It is near on impossible to describe the plot of Nick Payne’s Constellations. The only clear identifiable feature is that there are two characters – Roland and Marianne - and that over the course of the play, their lives intersect innumerable times. They connect via infinite possibilities, sometimes with similar results, sometimes vastly different.

It’s Not Funny

Written & performed by Fiannah de Rue. Directed by Hayley Tantau. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tasma Terrace, Melbourne CBD. 10 – 22 April 2018

It’s a risky title – and could prompt a one-word review.  Fortunately, Fiannah de Rue’s show is funny.  What isn’t funny (usually) is death.  This show is, she says, her response to the recent death of her beloved larrikin father, as in, ‘You have to laugh…’  There isn’t, in fact, a lot about her Dad in the show, although there is a running gag about his ashes and a brilliant sequence about the wake she organised and supervised to ensure that it stayed sad.  Watching her patrol the wake and remind pe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By Joseph Robinette. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. The Playhouse. Directed by Ben Armitage. April 6-28, 2018

Just in time for the school holidays, this production will appeal to equally to children and the adults who recall the book with fondness. Playwright, Joseph Robinette, is much acclaimed but the writing is often declamatory and stilted. Armitage, however, has done wonderful things in this production. The show is visually satisfying. Projections, lighting and a soundscape are used to create atmosphere on what might otherwise be a stark stage. The Wardrobe, itself, is charming. Costumes and makeup are effective and well considered.

The Crucible

By Arthur Miller. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Directed by Brenda White. April 7 – May 19, 2018

When the town Salem is mentioned, most people think of the witch hunts of 1692/93 in what is now the state of Massachusetts, USA.  The mass hysteria based on rumour, revenge and a fanatical belief in the Puritan religion led to the execution of over twenty innocent people. Arthur Miller has taken this historical event as an allegory of what was happening in 1953, when the play was first performed, with a similar witch hunt for communists under the guidance of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Faure Requiem

Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Stefan Parkman. Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Morgan England Jones, The Australian Voices. Director: Gordon Hamilton. Concert Hall, QPAC. 7 April 2018.

Seascapes, rainstorms and funerals coalesced in an eclectic mix of sound in this smartly devised choral concert by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The Flick

By Annie Baker. Outhouse Theatre Co. Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre (NSW). April 5 – 21, 2018

The raked seating of the Reginald Theatre is mirrored by a similar rake of red plush seating. Red and black cinema style carpet stretches up steps to an aisle. Above it, in a high, dark-curtained wall are the windows of the projection box of The Flick, a cinema in Worcester, Massachusetts. Both theatre and cinema black out simultaneously. Loud music heralds the credits of a movie. Lights come up on the empty cinema, littered with spilt popcorn.

The Wizard of Oz

Music: Harold Arlen. Lyrics: E.Y. Harburg. Additional Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Additional Lyrics: Tim Rice. Adaptation: Andrew Lloyd Webber & Jeremy Sams. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s New Production, produced by John Frost and Suzanne Jones, by arrangement with The Production Company. Adelaide Festival Centre. April 1 – 29.

You can be pretty sure sentimental childhood memories are in play when there are more adults than youngsters in an audience for a production that is, in reality, a children’s story. The Wizard of Oz is such a show and it’s magical.

The current touring production is now in Adelaide and locals are heading to Oz in droves to see what the fuss is about for this new Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams adaptation, which is based on the London Palladium production.

Les Mamelles de Tirésias

By Francis Poulenc. Lyric Opera of Melbourne. Director: Cathy Hunt. Conductor: Simon Bruckard. Chapel off Chapel. April 7 – 14, 2018.

With Les Mamelles de Tirésias Lyric Opera have continued their practice of performing obscure works. Written at the end of the World War II, this surreal opera features Therese, the title character, railing against being a woman. So she discards her breasts (balloons) and goes into the world in search of a more fulfilling life.

Her husband takes on the female role and decides to have babies – thousands of them! The moral of the story was that, at the end of the war, France was to populate or perish.

It was a delightful romp.

Julius Caesar

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Nicholas Hytner. National Theatre Live from The Bridge Theatre, London. Nova Cinemas, Carlton VIC (& other participating venues). 14 – 25 April 2018

This National Theatre Live presentation of the Bridge Theatre production of Julius Caesar is a model of clarity and focussed emotion.  While the play is an uncanny paradigm for some sadly familiar political disasters, at its centre is the figure of Brutus – it is, in textbook terms, ‘Brutus’ story’.

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