Reviews

The Wizard of Oz

Original book by L. Frank Baum. Book adaptation by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. Director: Lucy Nicolson. MLOC. Phoenix Theatre, Elwood. 9th-17th Nov, 2012

The Wizard of Oz is an iconic musical from the childhood of just about all of us. Who hasn’t, in their childhood, sat at a window and wondered what lies beyond the rainbow? Who hasn’t heard Judy Garland sing the song? And how many of us called a much loved pet “Toto”? It’s part of our makeup, our psyche. Beautifully realised on film, with a huge budget, it sets the bar for fantasy so high that it takes a brave theatre company to even attempt to match it.

Next to Normal

Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Music by Tom Kitt. Directed by Shaun Kingma. WMTC – Williamstown Musical Theatre Company (Vic). Nov 9th-24th, 2012.

When Next to Normal won 3 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for a musical about death, grief, suicide, drugs and mental illness, reactions were mixed. Here was an absolutely stunning score but a book and lyrics that were confronting at every turn. It is not, nor will it ever be, to everybody’s taste. Yet it is a musical that all lovers of Music Theatre should see.

Ruby Moon

By Matt Cameron. Dramac. Macquarie University. Lighthouse Theatre. Nov 7 – 10, 2012

Matt Cameron’s play about the isolation of suburbia and the “darker recesses of human nature” (Matt Cameron) is haunting and confronting and, in the macabre manner of black comedy and absurdism, sometimes funny. Because its scenes interconnect and inter-relate, it is important that it be run, as the playwright instructs, “strictly without an interval”.

I'll Break My Own Heart.

Devised and performed by Rose Grayson. Tasmanian Theatre Company Cascade Indie Program. Theatre Royal Backspace, Hobart. Director: Andrew Kotatko. Musical Director: Peter Dasent. Wednesday 7th to 9th November, 2102

Think of cabaret, think of burlesque – then forget the bump and grind! From the moment Rose Grayson sashayed on stage in her cut-away tux-and-tails, black satin and lace corselet, top hat, high heels and fish-net stockings, she radiated burlesque vamp, but in a very classy way, darling. The long-awaited Tasmanian premiere season of I’ll Break My Own Heart, the sexy cabaret show that wowed audiences at Sydney Fringe Festival last year had arrived.

Everything Must Go

Written and performed by Rachel Leary. Presented with the support of the Tasmanian Theatre Company Cascade Indie Program. Theatre Royal Backspace (Hobart). Director: Damian Callinan. November 7 – 11, 2102.

Times are changing, and Nancy Browne, comic creation of Rachel Leary, must make sense of her shifting world. The quirky play Everything Must Go has evolved, over almost five years, out of a series of comedy sketches performed by Rachel Leary. It has received wide praise from critics and comic peers during its seasons at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Rachel was a finalist of Victorian Raw Comedy in 2007.

The Drowsy Chaperone.

Book by Don Martin and Don Kellar. Music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. Director: Karl McNamara. Fab Nobs, Bayswater (Vic). 9th-24th November, 2012.

It’s Fabulous! There you go, my shortest review ever. Oh, you want details? Well if you insist. This is the slightly goofy story of a shy agoraphobic man – The Man in the Chair - who rarely goes out of his run down apartment, instead playing his Broadway show records….yes, vinyl ones….for comfort. He includes us, the audience, as confidantes and shares with us his favourite little known show, the 1928 musical “The Drowsy Chaperone”. As he does, the musical comes to life in his tiny apartment.

Signs of Life.

By Tim Winton. Sydney Theatre Company and Black Swan Theatre Company. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. November 7 - December 22, 2012

We were spoiled by Cloudstreet, an epic novel filled with wonderful characters that was also a sensation as a stage play. Tim Winton’s novel Dirt Music has a similar epic and broad brushed landscape. It concludes with a plane crash.

If you are expecting an exhilarating night of action in this style you might be a little underwhelmed by the scope and pace of Signs of Life.

Tim Winton picks the story up after Dirt Music is finished. 

Hell Hath No Fury

By Wayne Tunks. Revolt Melbourne. 8 – 24 November, 2012

Hell Hath No Fury, written, produced and directed by Wayne Tunks, is a solid effort at contemporary theatre and, whilst engaging enough for a mainstream audience, sadly misses the mark in delivering an insightful, bold work.

A theatre space in Revolt Melbourne is transformed into a beauty salon where sixteen female staff and customers are all having relationship woes. Roberta, the salon’s owner, is at the centre of the play. 

Bare Witness

By Mari Lourey. Bare Witness Company. Director Nadja Kostich. The Street Theatre, Canberra, and touring the eastern states till 23 November 2012

Less a play than a sequence of sketches in reverse chronological order, Bare Witness portrays impressions of photojournalism in a war zone: the daily confrontation with killing, maiming, and dying; the characters inhabiting these regions for a photograph; and its effects on them.

Soulmates

By David Williamson. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. Director: Meredith McQueen. 26 October – 10 November, 2102

Revenge is a dish best served funny. What better way for a playwright to get back at critics than to write a thinly disguised dig at his enemy? Hobart Repertory Theatre took on the David Williamson play Soulmates and imbued it with humour but possibly less spite than the original version in 2002.

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