Reviews

ALPHA

By Sebastian Robinson and Tamara Natt. The Old Fitz Theatre (NSW). February 9-20, 2016.

Following a sellout season at Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre as a part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, Red Line Productions have brought ALPHA to The Old Fitz. ALPHA is a new Australian work created and performed by Sebastian Robinson and Tamara Natt, with Robinson in the seat as director.

Inside We Hide

Directed by Scott Corbett. The Blue Room Theatre, Perth Cultural Centre, Fringe World, WA. Feb 9 - 13, 2015

Those familiar with The Blue Room Theatre will know that audience members (usually) need to walk completely across the stage to reach the seating area. As you enter for Inside We Hide, you need to be careful not only not to trip over potatoes on the floor, but to avoid treading on actors as well.

Ann-Marie Biagioni has created an intriguing thriller, where three people are being held prisoner in an unknown place, while someone of importance to them is being tortured on the outside. To add to the confusion, their captor appears to be a little girl.

The Village Bike

By Penelope Skinner. Directed by Ngaire Dawn Fair. Red Stitch (Vic). 2nd February-5th March 2016

Red Stitch kicks off the new year with a nicely focussed production of Penelope Skinner’s award winning play about sexual obsession and gender hypocrisy. It’s a bold play, and perhaps shocking to the elderly Sunday night audience I shared a performance with. Nevertheless, it has relevant things to say beneath the sledge-hammer approach and shock tactics of the text itself.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

By Oscar Wilde, adapted by Nathan Farrow. Directed by Stephen Lloyd-Coombs. Genesian Theatre, Sydney. February 6 – March 19, 2016

Oscar Wilde’s novel, an examination of youth, beauty and narcissism, has arguably found even greater relevance today. In the age of cinema – and indeed Facebook, instagram and Tindr – the potential for modern adaptation is clear.

Fame

Conceived and Developed by David De Silva. Book by Jose Fernandez. Lyrics by Jacques Levy. Music by Steve Margoshes. Title Song ‘Fame’ by Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore. APAN. Directed by Olivia Collier. Octagon Theatre, University of Western Australia. Feb 6-7, 2015

APAN, The Australian Performing Arts Network, is an organisation which has several arms including offering Certificates and Diplomas in Performing Arts, a Talent Development Program which allows high school students to intensively study dance or music theatre while continuing academic studies, and a network program which invites young performing artists from across the state to come together for performance opportunities.

The Little Mermaid

By Doug Wright and Alan Menken. Directed by Bradley Tudor and Natalie Burbage. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana, WA. 29 January - 13 February 2016

The Little Mermaid is a sumptuous production, beautifully directed and amazingly costumed that deserves its sell-out houses.

It is a little unusual to mention the costumes first in a review, but the costumes and wigs in The Little Mermaid are among the best I have ever seen in a community theatre show. Designed by Brad Tudor and brought to life by a team of thirteen, they were simply breathtaking; Cleverly designed, beautifully constructed and expertly coordinated.

Pennsylvania Avenue

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Directed by Simon Phillips, Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 21 January – 14 February 2016

The extraordinary one-woman show featuring Bernadette Robinson suggests that some of the more salacious intrigues at the White House sometimes involved some of the most illustrious vocalists in the era that begins with JFK and ends with Bill Clinton. The opening song sets the tone for the entire performance as Marilyn Monroe’s infamous “Happy Birthday Mr. President” wafts through the auditorium it is clear that US politics and the entertainment industry intersected in ways that has made for some fascinating and iconic history.

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë. Directed by Sally Cookson. National Theatre Live. In select cinemas, nationally, from 13 February, 2016.

Adapting Jane Eyre for the stage and broadcasting the performance in cinemas worldwide makes for an unusual turn of events given the numerous screen adaptations of the novel. However, Sally Cookson’s theatrical interpretation focuses on the persona in ways that allow Jane (Madeline Worrall) to stand out and set herself apart from the imposing presence of Rochester (Felix Hayes) or any of the other larger than life characters created for this profoundly romantic story. In this stage version Jane is without doubt the star of the show.

La Soirée

La Soirée. Spiegeltent, Perth Cultural Centre, Fringe World, WA. 22 January - 6 March, 2016

Perhaps the most popular of Fringe World's attractions, La Soirée won Best Cabaret at last year's Fringe World Festival, and with capacity crowds and an extended season, La Soirée is again the talk of the town.

With an exciting collection of circus, cabaret and burlesque performers, some of whom have Fringe World shows in their own right, the performance line-up can vary from night to night.

The Secret River

Adapted by Andrew Bovell, from the book by Kate Grenville. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Neil Armfield. Set Design by Stephen Curtis. Composer – Iain Grandage. Musical Director – Isaac Hayward. Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay. February 1 – 20, 2016, then touring.

There are times a quasi-theatre geek becomes aware of the circulation-restricting pleb pants they wear as they sit poised to review something that cannot be simply summed up with generic praise. It's daunting enough that this is a 'return' season of a benchmark production which achieved justifiably passionate reviews three years ago. It's a two-fold dilemma: what can be said that hasn't been said before? And how do you describe something that really needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated?

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