Reviews

The Cherry Orchard

By Simon Stone, after Anton Chekhov. Melbourne Theatre Company. Directed by Simon Stone. Set and Costume Designer – Alice Babidge. Lighting Designer Niklas Pajati. Composer/Sound Designer – Stefan Gregory. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. August 10 – September 25, 2013.

Simon Stone’s contemporized production of The Cherry Orchard is bright, lively and delightfully accessible.  For those who have studied it, and seen it a number of times, or for those who have no idea what it is about, this is the production to catch.  It is funny and rewarding, and may even win over the purists, in its capacity to elucidate the complex emotional quandaries it explores and character flaws it reveals.

Hedda

Directed by Renato Fabretti. Blue Room Theatre, Northbridge, WA. Aug 13-31, 2013.

Hedda is a reconstruction of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler by Norwegian actress-producer Marthe Snoresdotter Rovik. Her aim was to "expose Australian audiences to Hedda, the way Ibsen intended."

A Conversation

By David Williamson. Director: Brendan Ellis. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth (WA). August 2-17, 2013.

A Conversation is the second play in David Williamson's Jack Manning trilogy about community conferencing, the first being Face to Face, which director Brendan Ellis directed last year at Stirling Theatre to some acclaim.

A more disturbing story than its predecessor, A Conversation follows a community conference after the rape and murder of a young woman Donna Milsom, between her parents and the family of the perpetrator.

Wunderkammer

Directed by Yaron Lifschitz. Presented by Circa. Malthouse Theatre (Vic). August 15 - September 1, 2013.

Wunderkammer (literally ‘wonder-room’, or “a cabinet of curiosities” according to Circa’s Artistic Director Yaran Lifschitz), is an ideal concept for this outstanding, Brisbane-born, contemporary circus ensemble to explore.

The pact that circus performers make with their audience, themselves, and each other, is one of death-defying precision – built on significant levels of almost innate trust.

Other Desert Cities

By Jon Robert Baitz. Black Swan State Theatre Company/ Queensland Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC. 10 Aug – 1 Sept 2013

This opulent set design by Christina Smith must be one of the most beautiful created in recent years. It is the Wyeths’ Palm Springs mansion where the family are gathered for a Christmas reunion.

Like similar reunions the play opens slowly, but quickly we discover the cracks appearing in the façade of this glamour family. Author-daughter Brooke (Rebecca David) has returned after living for six years at Sag Harbour, bearing the final draft of a family memoir containing details of an event during the first Iraq war that had a profound emotional effect on her.

Blue Man Group

Created, written and directed by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink. Blue Man Group Productions, LLC and Rodney Rigby. Lyric Theatre, The Star, Sydney. Opening Night: August 14, 2013.

They’re unique and quirky, merging rock'n'roll percussion with naive, engaging comedy.

Sophisticated multi-media joyously meets primal vaudeville slapstick.

They’re weird, childlike, playful and yucky-messy.

Bald, blue and funny-looking, these three guys embody inner child.

And my inner kid sorta kinda envies the audience members they invite up to play, even as the adult Neil says, 'please, not me!'

Freud’s Last Session

By Mark St Germain. Produced by Strange Duck Productions. Theatre Royal, Sydney. Director: Adam Cook. 15-31 August, 2013.

The excellent Freud’s Last Session program reveals that first-time-ever producer Adam Liberman, a seriously experienced lawyer, travelled to New York to acquire the Australian rights for this award-winning off-Broadway play. You’ve got to admire his taste and his determination while worrying about his bank balance.

TaikoDeck

By TaikOz. Glen Street Theatre, NSW. August 13-18, 2013.

TaikoDeck is a collaboration between brothers Max and Tom Royce-Hampton. The brothers’ vision for this production is to blend East and West, but they succeed not only in blending sounds from opposite ends of the globe, but also in fusing young and ancient, synthetic and acoustic.

Delectable Shelter

By Benedict Hardie. Critical Stages and The Hayloft Project. Seymour Centre (NSW). Aug 13 – 17, 2013

This is the kind of wacky show where the writer/director Benedict Hardie was probably stoned when it was written or if he wasn't then it makes you want to spend a few hours with him to find out what makes him so naturally high.

Sleuth

By Anthony Shaffer. Directed by Malcolm Sussman. 1812 Theatre (Vic). 8th - 31st August, 2013.

It sounds like a plotline in itself. Identical twin brothers both become highly successful playwrights, feted by their generation. But whilst Peter went for the intellectual and emotional complexities of Amadeus and Equus, Anthony opted for the equally complex but less cerebral thriller; and Sleuth is a masterful example of his art.

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