Reviews

Cynical Ballads

Luke Wright. Melbourne Festival. The Malthouse. Oct 23 - 27, 2012

An evening with Luke Wright is like curling up in front of the fire with a good book, a bottle of wine - and the occasional flying ember. He is young, charming and equipped with beautifully observed ballads delivered with the verve and sass of a rap singer. Wright is a natural performer, confident and skilled at bringing the audience into the darkly comic worlds he has created in his ballads. With each story, Wright's words are accompanied by Sam Ratcliffe's illustrations, which give a wonderfully scruffy, fairytale quality to the performance.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to The Forum

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Director: Simon Phillips. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne. From Oct 27th, 2012 for 12 weeks.

So much has been written about this production that it’s hard to know how to approach it. I’m guessing those with a sense of theatrical ennui, or the depressingly cynical, will find fault at every turn. But this is populist entertainment. If you want Goethe or Schiller, you won’t find them at The Maj.

Carmen

Opera by Georges Bizet. Libretto: Henri Meilhac & Ludovic Halevy. Opera Queensland. Conductor: Emmanuel Joel-Hornak. Original Director: Francesca Zambello. Revival Director: Mathew Barclay. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. Oct 26 – Nov 10, 2012.

Ask the man on the street to whistle a tune from an opera and most likely he will whistle something from Carmen. With its score of “Opera’s Greatest Hits,” “The Toreador Song”, “The Flower Song” and “Habanera”, Bizet’s love triangle between a gypsy, matador and soldier has never failed to capture and enrapture an audience since it first premiered in Paris in 1875.

The Laramie Project

By Moises Kaufman. Director: Chris Baldock. Mockingbird Theatre. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). Oct 26th – Nov 11th, 2012

Great theatre is rarely about expensive sets, or state theatres, or marquee names in lead roles. Great Theatre is about truth, and emotional connection, passion and spiritual elevation and it can (and should) be a life changing event. Last night Great Theatre was about a sky backcloth, eight wooden chairs, some creative lighting (Douglas Montgomery) and an ensemble cast of eight superlative actors sharing the vision of a gifted director to honour the text of a truly important and relevant play.

Up The Ladder

By Roger Bennett. The Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA) and Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC). Cremorne Theatre. 24-27 October, 2012

Beat that Drum! Ring the Bell! This is a boisterous, adrenaline-charged collage of drama, music, song, and dance performed by a huge all-indigenous cast. Inescapably infectious entertainment!

The Wharf Revue 2012 - Red Wharf: Beyond the Rings of Satire

By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott. Sydney Theatre Company. Wharf 2 Theatre. November 1 - December 22, 2012.

Those clever writers from the Wharf Review are in fine form.

First there was a spoon full of sugar for Julia: “With my negotiating skills I passed an awful lot of bills in a parliament that teeters on the edge, but no-one ever mentioned those. They just ridicule my nose, my voice, my hair, my girlish derriere.”

King Lear

By William Shakespeare. TheatreiNQ Company (formerly Shakespeare Under the Stars). Director: Terri Brabon. Designer: Brendan O'Connor. Townsville 18 - 29 September.

Arriving at the stately gates of Queen’s Gardens at dusk and walking along flame-lit paths to the performance space, members of the audience could easily believe that they had entered another time and place for the performance of “King Lear” by THEATREiNQ.

Director Terri Brabon assembled an accomplished and talented cast who rose to the challenge of presenting this classic Shakespearian tragedy in an open-air setting.

Brabon was successful in maintaining the clarity of plot and sub-plot through astute direction and effective dove-tailing of scenes.

Oliver!

Book, Music & Lyrics: Lionel Bart. PRIMA (Pine Rivers Musical Association Inc., @ Holy Spirit Auditorium, Bray Park, Qld. Director: Melanie Evans. Music Director: Terry Million. Choreographer: Shelley Marshall. Oct 19 – 27, 2012.

Charles Dickens Oliver Twist is one of the great British novels and Lionel Bart’s musical adaptation of it is one of the great British musicals. PRIMA’s production ticked all the right boxes, with Bart’s score the strength of the performance.

Michael Forman was a very impressive Fagin, bringing out the Jewishness of the character, dancing impishly, and singing the role with conviction. His “Pick a Pocket or Two” and “Reviewing the Situation” were a delight.

An Act of Now

Chunky Move. Melbourne Festival. Sidney Myer Music Bowl.18-27 October 2012

Beautiful and risky, disturbing and passionate are just some of the ways in which to describe Chunky Move's new contemporary dance piece, An Act of Now. As the very first production by the company's new artistic director Anouk Van Dijk, An Act of Now is a thrilling moment for anyone who cares about dance and its possibilities.

Elaine Paige in Concert

Riverside Theatre, Perth. 20 October 2012, then touring nationally.

Elaine Paige has a beautiful natural warmth that quickly endears her to her audience, and a relaxed natural performance style that translates well to Australian audiences. In her first performance on the Australian leg of her tour, she was troubled by technical difficulties, but delivered an excellent program.

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