Reviews

Bartleby

By Julian Hobba, after Herman Melville. The Street Theatre, Canberra. 26 July – 3 August 2014

Herman Melville’s 1853 short story “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street” tells of a subdued law copyist, or scrivener, who, after several days of hard work in a law office, withholds all cooperation, responding with little more than “I would prefer not to”.  The tale is somewhat unsatisfying in failing to reveal a credible cause of the conflict and so being unable to resolve it.

 

The Wizard of Oz

By L Frank Baum. The John Kane revised version based on the 1939 movie. Redcliffe Musical Theatre (Qld). Redcliffe Cultural Centre. July 25 – August 10, 2014

This company prides itself on uncompromising professional training. So, one gets the impression the Moreton Bay area in Queensland breeds disproportionate numbers of musical theatre stars.

This show, with its 90-strong cast (70 below 16 years of age) cements the RMT reputation. The experience provided here is invaluable experience of a fully professional nature for these youngsters (all of whom, I should add, acquit themselves admirably).

Morning Sacrifice

By Dymphna Cusack. Javeenbah Theatre Company, Nerang, Gold Coast. Director: Jim Dickson. 25th July – 9th August, 2014

Sydney 1938: the education system and teacher/student expectations were quite different to the present day. Morning Sacrifice is based on the actual experience of the playwright.

Jim Dickson’s production took us into the Staff Room of a respectable school for young ladies and introduced us to idiosyncrasies and malicious snipes of women divided in their

ideals and views on punishment and the place of young girls in society. The atmosphere was cold and uninviting.

Don Giovanni

By Mozart. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. July 25 – August 30, 2014.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Shane Lowrencev bring an enormous amount of energy and comic relief to this rather dark and gloomy production of Mozart and Da Ponte’s musical morality tale. As Don Giovanni, Rhodes is everything the infamous rake should be: seductive, ruthless, manipulative, cruel … and terribly attractive!

Green Screen

By Nicola Gunn / SANS HOTEL with collaboration from the cast. MTC Neon. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler. 24 July – 3 August 2014.

At the very end of Green Screen (and I don’t think I’m giving much away) some text is projected on a strip of, yes, green screen, like a surtitle.  The last sentence reads something like, ‘…there was a good feeling between us, even though nothing had happened.’  That statement pretty much covers what we’d seen – although, like so much else here, the very fact that ‘nothing had happened’ is exactly the point.  ‘Nothing happened’, it is implied, because human beings are inadequate to the task of saving

Purgatorio

By Ariel Dorfman. 5pound theatre and Attic Erratic. The Owl and the Pussycat, Richmond, Vic. July 23 – August 2, 2014.

All that is needed for fine theatre is a space to perform, a good text, a connected audience, and talented people on a quest for excellence. 5pound theatre and Attic Erratic have brought all those elements together for Purgatorio, by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, and the result is a stunning piece of theatre on a shoestring budget.

Gloria

By Elaine Acworth. Queensland Theatre Company. Bille Brown Studio. 19 July – 16 August 2014

Two premieres in successive nights – we are spoilt for excesses in Brisbane at present.

No spoiler alert needed to reveal Gloria is about a middle-aged woman struck down recently by a stroke and struggling through her diminished memory to make contact with a son she recalls abandoning for adoption before she took off to Europe to establish a reputation as a cabaret star.

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Kip Williams. Sydney Theatre. July 25 - September 27, 2014.

Double, double toil and trouble – sayeth the famous witches, and likewise with this hotly anticipated production of the Scottish play the question kept recurring - was it worth the trouble of turning the Sydney Theatre inside out?

The audience was shoe horned into a temporary seating structure on the stage – staring at the 900 empty seats.  Some of those slightly above average height reported a little discomfort at the squeeze.

 

Playing Sinatra

By Bernard Kops. St Jude’s Players (SA). St Jude’s Hall, Brighton. July 24-August 2, 2014

With its fine production of Bernard Kops’ disturbing drama, Playing Sinatra, Adelaide’s St Jude’s Players have proven that amateur theatre groups can create spine-chilling psychological ‘atmosphere’ just as effectively as the professionals, even without the technical resources to which the latter companies have access.

Ugly Mugs

By Peta Brady. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross. July 25 – August 23, 2014

Melbourne playwright and actor Peta Brady has also spent years working as an outreach worker amongst sex workers.  Her new play sharply captures that underbelly world with the same rough diamond bravado, wit and street poetry which Daniel Keene first brought to his disadvantaged characters two decades ago.  

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