Reviews

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Music and Lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman. Adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams and Ray Roderick. Directed by Roger Hodgman. Her Majesty’s Theatre. Melbourne Opening Night: 2nd February, 2013

If Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is more a delightfully fluffy and well decorated confection than a sumptuous feast, it’s certainly not the fault of this production, which started its official Melbourne run last night. Director Roger Hodgman has maximised the delights for children while still maintaining adult interest, no mean achievement. But, put simply, there’s a fabulous car, and it floats, and it flies; and once you’ve seen that (and it truly is spectacular), the rest of the show no longer seems that important.

HAIR

Book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado. Music by Galt McDermott StageArt. Directed by Robbie Carmelotti. Chapel off Chapel. February 1 – 17, 2013.

When live theatre really works it is the most joyous and uplifting experience in the world…and this latest production of the 1968 Tony Award winning musical really works. Despite abysmal sound problems (feedback and booming. Guys…I know you rehearsed it, but stop patting each others faces and hair when the radio mikes are on, or reposition the mikes) nothing could dull the sheer exhilaration of this marvellous psychedelic celebration of life. It should feel dated, but instead it feels fresh, and raw, and passionate, and NOW.

As You Like It

By William Shakespeare. Sydney Shakespeare Festival. Bicentennial Park, Glebe Foreshore. January 17 – February 24, 2013.

There are a lot of ways a person can spend their Friday nights in summer in Sydney. One that I highly recommend is to spend it watching a Shakespearian comedy: outdoors, atop a picnic blanket, champagne in hand.

The Other Place.

By Sharr White. Directed by Nadia Tass. Set Design – Shaun Gurton, Costume Designer – Edie Kurzer, Lighting Designer – Nigel Levings, Composer – Paul Grabowsky, Sound Designer – Russell Goldsmith, Voice and Dialect Coach – Suzanne Heywood. Melbourne Theatre Company. The Playhouse, Arts Centre, Melbourne. 26 January – 2 March, 2013

Catherine McClements’s work as Juliana, a convincingly dynamic and successful woman in her early fifties, is remarkably strong and rich in this beautifully complex work by American writer Sharr White.  It reveals as it unfolds in twists and turns, by degrees - in a seemingly effortless manner due to Nadia Tass’s directorial precision.

The Other Place is presented on a neutral, uncluttered set by Shaun Gurton and lit to create various and varied atmospheres by Nigel Levings.

The Dead Ones

Written & Performed by Margie Fischer. Directed by Katherine Fitzgerald. Designer Kathryn Sproul. Theatre Works. 29 January to 3 February, 2013.

The Dead Ones is a moving work about sorting the goods, chattels and memories of deceased parents. It is about what to keep, and what to dispose of, and how. In a way it is the reconciling of a daughter with the memory of her childhood, youth, history and strong, hardworking and determined Jewish parents and paternal grandparents. It is a solitary journey by an only child, due to the premature loss of her brother from a rare illness in his early twenties.

Salome

By Oscar Wilde. TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst (NSW). January 28 – February 3, 2013.

Courage, mon brave!” was my first response to a production of Salome. The biblical language, the difficult phrasing, a plethora of ‘extras’ (soldiers, pages) not to mention a decapitated John the Baptist – all would tend to deter one from a production of this very un-Wilde-ish play.

The Giraffe’s Uncle (The Les Robinson Story)

By Kieran Carroll. La Mama Theatre (Vic). Director: Ron Hadley. Music: Darryl Emmerson. January 31st – February 10th, 2013

Essentially a one-hander, The Giraffe’s Uncle explores the life and person of Les Robinson, an absurdist writer in Sydney’s bohemian scene between the 1920s and 60s. Robinson was infamous for living in derelict houses and caves, writing, fishing and playing his gramophone, and refusing to pay rent.

Following the Sydney premiere in 2011, Kieran Carroll’s thirteenth play, restaged and revised for the Melbourne season, once again features actor Martin Portus who consolidates his return to the stage after 30 years.

Casablanca

A Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the classic film. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 25 January-14 February, 2013.

The film Casablanca hit the screens in late 1942 and immediately became a great wartime love story. Lux Radio Theatre capitalised on its success to broadcast a radio adaptation of the film in 1944.

Il trovatore

By Giuseppe Verdi. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Jan 29 – Mar 5, 2013.

Verdi’s opposition to oppression is certainly evident in Il trovatore, and the setting of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s makes it even more poignant because the oppression is historically closer. The persecution of artists (the troubadour, Manrico), gyspsies (Azucena and her mother before her) prevailed into the twentieth century, as did the conflict between rich and the poor.

Blaze

PANdADDY Production. Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne. Director: Anthony van Laast. Artistic Director: Chris Baldock. Set Designer: Es Devlin. Lighting: Designer Patrick Woodroffe. 23- 27 January, 2013

Pumping out any number of impressive moves, head spinning, and one armed hand stands this week comes Blaze, a celebration of street dancing, in Melbourne after its premiere in London’s West End, and tours of the Netherlands and the UK.

MC Tony Mills urges those gathered to ‘make some noise’ as sixteen dancers and breakers take the stage. After a rather languid opening we are thrust into a high energy and mega volume affair that maintains pace by launching into new songs before the previous one ends.

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