Reviews

Dark Emu

Devised by Bangarra Dance Theatre. Based on the book by Bruce Pascoe. Directed by Stephen Page. Choreographed by Stephen Page, Daniel Riley, Yolanda Brown and the Dancers of the Bangarra Dance Theatre. QPAC Playhouse Theatre, 24 August – 1 September, 2018

Bangarra Dance Theatre’s latest production lives up to their reputation for creating compelling contemporary dance. The talented athletes making up the cast of 18 indigenous dancers should be applauded for their focus, passion and skill. These amazing artists under the guidance of Artistic Director Stephen Page are presenting enlightening history straight from Bruce Pascoe’s prizewinning book Dark Emu, Black Seeds: agriculture or accident? It’s wonderful to see such a unique work, telling the stories of Australia’s first people.

Hotel Bonegilla

By Tes Lyssiotis. Directed by Laurence Strangio. La Mama. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton VIC. 22 August – 2 September 2018

Here’s another revival of this often revived 1983 play by Tes Lyssiotis.  It still has much to say about Australia and Australians and immigrants and immigration, especially when given such a lively and engaging production as this.  The differences between the history – post WWII migration – and now is that back then Australia needed and invited white immigration, but now…  The similarities are the same - false expectations against Australian ineptitude, incomprehension and racism. 

Disgust

By Kat Moritz. La Mama. La Mama at Trades Hall, Meeting Room 1, Carlton VIC. 23 August – 2 September 2018

A couple (Michelle Robertson and Monty Burgess) lounge on a bare platform.  It is up to our imaginations to create the physical world of these people.  They may be married, they may not, but it seems – maybe – that they may have been together too long.  They’re recognisable people – people you might know – people who might be you.  They’re entering middle age, they’ve ‘let themselves go’ a little, and their lives have settled into a familiar if empty routine.  There’s a superficially relaxed, unhur

Mothermorphosis

By Liz Skitch. La Mama and debase productions. Trades Hall, Carlton. Aug 22 – Sep 2, 2018.

Mothermorphosisis a tale of a woman who wakes up one morning only to discover she has turned into a mother. It is a quirky and facetious metaphor of the Franz Kafka story (Metamorphosis).

This is a witty and clever new show written and performed by Liz Skitch from Debase Productions, and directed by Maude Davey.

Spring Awakening

Music: Duncan Sheik. Book & Lyrics: Steven Sater based on the play by Frank Wedekind (1891). Director: Tim Hill. Musical Director: Dominic Woodhead. Choreographer: Deanna Castellana. Underground Broadway, Metro Arts, Brisbane. 24 August – 2 September 2018

Since it premiered on Broadway in 2006 winning eight Tony awards,Spring Awakening has gone onto success after success on international stages. Perhaps not as well-known as its second-cousin Rent, (but in my opinion better and more coherent), this rock musical version of Frank Wedekind’s 1891 German play with its themes of adolescent sexuality, teen suicide, peer-pressure, abortion and homosexuality, still resonates with a contemporary immediacy.

Out of Sight Out of Murder

By Fred Carmichael. Tea Tree Players (SA). Tea Tree Players Theatre. August 22 - September 1, 2018.

When we read a book, we often speak of the author’s ability to ‘bring the characters to life’, to feel like they are ‘almost jumping off the pages’. In Out of Sight out of Murder, the latest offering by Tea Tree Players, this premise is very effectively given wings. This murder mystery is very familiar but at the same time, not quite like any other you will see.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert - the Musical

Book by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott. Based on the Latent Image/Specific Films Motion Picture Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Presented by Michael Cassel Group and Nullarbor Productions in association with MGM On Stage. Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. 19 August-15 September, 2018.

The gorgeously decorated treat that is Priscilla Queen of the Desert - the Musical has definitely not been ‘left out in the rain’ like the cake in the lyrics of one of its songs. This is a perfect, unspoiled confection of glitz, glamour, music, moments of poignancy and large servings of feel-good fun. Adelaide’s opening night audience consumed the delicious offering with relish and gave it a well-deserved standing ovation.

The Woman in Black

Adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt, based on the 1983 novella by Susan Hill. D and S Media Productions. Directed by David Wicks. Laycock Street Theatre, Don Craig Room - Aug 23-25, 2018 and The Art House Theatre, Wyong Sept 1, 2018

The anticipation levels prior to seeing this play were two-fold. Not only is it the second-longest running play in the history of London’s West End (31 years) but it is also legendarily purported to scare the pants off ya! 

The setting is a Victorian era theatre - a nervous old man enlists the assistance of a passionate young actor to help him formally re-tell a ghastly experience, from which he feels doomed never to recover. Thus begins a deliciously-written ‘play within a play’.

Venus in Fur

By David Ives. The Street Theatre, Childers Street, Canberra. Directed by Caroline Stacey. 21 August – 2 September 2018

I’d be careful if I were you. When you obtain your ideal, she may be more cruel than you care for.” Playwright Thomas Novachek (Craig Alexander) has spent the day auditioning actresses for his stage adaptation of Venus in Fur, based on the classic novel on sadomasochism by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Having rejected them all as shallow and unworldly, he’s preparing to meet his fiancée for dinner, when in bursts Vanda (Joanna Richards), crude, abrasive and assertive, two hours later than she was booked to arrive.

The Divine Miss Bette

With Catherine Alcorn. Neil Gooding Productions, Tenacious C Presents. The Studio, Sydney Opera House. 23 – 26 August 2018

With big hair and big voice Catherine Alcorn attacks the sacred memory of American star Bette Midler in the 70s and 80s – rumbustious, raucous, straight-out brilliant. Okay, she doesn’t quite make it – who could? – but she nevertheless has a damn good crack at the elusive title of Divine Miss Bette. 

In full kit, with huge honey blonde hair, overflowing chest and wickedly made-up eyes, she teeters on and, for two hours, sashays non-stop about the stage. She’s certainly a powerhouse. 

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