Reviews

Cain and Abel

By Kate Davis, Emma Valente & Dana Miltins. The Rabble. At The Substation, Newport (VIC). 20-30 July 2016.

Cain and Abel: the Biblical, archetypal figures of fraternal conflict.  A story, say this show’s creators in their program notes, that has gone ‘beyond its religious beginnings… [and] has defined our contemporary understanding of violence’.  This very bloody production seeks to question stereotypes and the roots of masculine violence. 

God of Carnage

By Yasmina Reza. Pymble Players (NSW). July 20 – August 13, 2016

When one 10 year old boy hits another with a stick in a park in Paris, their parents agree to try to settle the matter amicably. As any parent – and playwright Yasmina Reza – knows, such encounters can be a little hazardous! From a strained but polite beginning, the tenor of the meeting declines until the behaviour of the boys is almost forgotten as tempers rise, accusations fly and etiquette is forgotten.

Edges: A Song Cycle

Music: Justin Paul. Lyrics: Benj Pasek. Understudy Productions. Director: Ian Good. Musical Director: Dominic Woodhead. Metro Arts, Brisbane. 20-23 July 2016

Edges: A Song Cycle was the first chance for Brisbane audiences to hear the work of Justin Paul and Benj Pasek, and although it showed the potential these two young American musical theatre writers would later achieve with their Dogfight and A Christmas Story scores, Edges was the work of two writers still in their embryonic stage. Written when they were 19 the cycle of songs were all about middle-class American youth coming-of-age and finding and losing love.

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Director: Chris Hamley. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. 15- 30 July 2016

In his reimagining of Macbeth, director Chris Hamley was inspired by elements of Japanese culture. He chose to feature live Taiko drummers, samurai-like warriors, ninja-like murderers, a geisha-like Lady Macbeth and five witches, creating a creepy and action packed Macbeth. These commanding and decisive new elements, especially the initial impact of the Taiko drumming, set the tone of menace and danger. Drum interludes, scene and act changes were riveting to watch and hear.

Suor Angelica

By Giacomo Puccini. Canberra Opera. Directed by Stephanie McAlister. Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest ACT. July 15 – 24, 2016.

This short opera is a little jewel of early 20th century opera, with melodies hearkening back to rich romanticism, and daring chromaticism used sparingly and with significant intent. It is the second part of Puccini’s triptych of operas (Il Trittico).  It is heartening to know that it is also appreciated by Canberra Opera who have chosen it for their 2016 production, held in the charming Wesley Uniting Church in Forrest, ACT.

Tell Me on a Sunday

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Don Black. Presented by Colin Foot. Ipswich Civic Centre, July 23, 2016 (reviewed at a preview on July 17).

Tell Me on a Sunday is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s less regularly performed shows, meaning when it is done – it is done well. Featuring the incredible talent of Lauren Lee Innis-Youren, this show takes you on a cycle of romantic misadventures from an English woman trying to find the love of her life in New York. Intertwined with wit, love and the evolution of a strong woman – this performance has been lifted above what you would expect from an independent production and taken into the realm of semi-professional theatre.

Seven Little Australians

Play by Anne Scott-Pendlebury, based on the novel by Ethel Turner (1894). Director: Leo Bradley. Villanova Players. FT Barrell Auditorium, Yeronga, Brisbane. 15 July – 7 August 2016

Villanova’s commitment to Australian plays and playwrights is commendable but Anne Scott-Pendlebury’s adaptation of Ethel Turner’s classic Seven Little Australians lacks dramatic strength. Written in short scenes with lots of incidents happening off-stage, it continually felt like a series of comings and goings with no substantial character development for an audience to relate to.

La Traviata

By Giuseppe Verdi, libretto Francesco Maria Piave. Adapted by Emotionworks Cut Opera. The Men’s Gallery, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 & 31 July 2016.

Verdi’s Traviata (‘fallen woman’) is a courtesan - so why not stage the opera in a strip club?  That’s what director Julie Edwardson and her Emotionworks Cut Opera have done.  The audience, attracted by the originality of the concept or perhaps the salacious nature of the venue, surrounds the stage where strippers and pole dancers do their thing at other times.  A four-piece blues’n’jazz combo, including Ms Edwardson herself on keyboard, supplies the music.  It’s not as Verdi and his librettist Francesco Maria Piave conc

The Marriage of Figaro

By Mozart. OAonTour. Director/Adaptor/Translator: Michael Gow. Conductor: Paul Fitzsimon. Drum Theatre, Dandenong, July 15 and 16, and touring nationally in 2016

OAonTour is the touring arm of Opera Australia. They have had a touring arm forever, bringing opera to the far reaches of this large country. Usually they perform with no chorus and minimalist sets.

This was different.

There was a small orchestra, but more importantly, a choir from a local primary school. What a great idea! The Marriage of Figaro has little to involve the chorus, and these young people got their opportunity to shine and to experience opera and hear some magnificent voices at very close range. This is an experience they will never forgot.

Menopause the Musical - Women On Fire

By Jeanie Linders. Lascorp Entertainment(Vic). Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. Director & Choreographer Tony Bartuccio. Melbourne 16th July – 6th August, 2016, and Brisbane (Twelfth Night Theatre) 26th August – 4th September.

Back in 2005 at its Melbourne debut, Menopause the Musical audiences were predominantly comprised of middle-aged women. But on opening night a decade or so later there were quite a number of gents prepared to expose themselves to a new frontier, along with a smattering of younger patrons.

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