Reviews

Ruben Guthrie

By Brendan Cowell. Directed by Shaun Wykes. National University Theatre Society. ANU Arts Centre Drama Lab. 22 – 25 May, 2013.

Ruben Guthrie is an advertising creative with the world at his feet. He knows everyone who’s everyone in Sydney, he’s engaged to a glamorous model, and his addiction to drink and drugs makes him spark with creativity.  With NUTS’ production and ACT premiere of Ruben Guthrie by the Australian playwright Brendan Cowell, the audience joins Ruben and those who know him in a journey through sobriety, pain, history and a hazy future. The intimacy of the small stage and limited seating of the Drama Lab heighten the emotional effect drawn by the actors.

Lineage

Form Dance Projects. Lennox Theatre, Paramatta Riverside (NSW). May 23 – 25, 2013.

With the multiplicity of nations and cultures coming together in contemporary Australia, it is gratifying that a company such as FORM Dance Projects is emphasisng the multi-cultural influence of traditional dance forms. In Dance Bites 2013, Lineage presents traditional Indian and contemporary Australian indigenous dancers in a program that reflects the creative forces that are building contemporary Australian performance.

 

Phèdre

Written by Jean Racine. Translated by Ted Hughes. Bell Shakespeare. Directed by Peter Evans. Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne - May 17 to June 2, 2013. Sydney Opera House, Playhouse – June 6 – 19.

Bell Shakespeare continues to raise the bar in presenting us “The Classics.” This time it’s Racine’s play of Euripedes’ Greek tragedy Phèdre, translated by Ted Hughes. Much of it is not a literal poetic translation, and just as well, for Racine’s play is a product of its time and teeters between Tragedy and Melodrama. So, although the story and most of the exquisite language remains intact, Hughes has taken some of the edge off the OTT tragedy and allowed us the relief of some black comedy instead.

Carousel

Music: Richard Rodgers. Book & Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd based on Ferenc Molnar’s play Liliom. Queensland Conservatorium Musical Theatre Production. Director: Brendan Ross. Musical Director: Matthew Samer. Princess Theatre, Brisbane, 22 – 25 May 2013.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel is considered one of the classics of the American musical theatre and quite possibly the best musical to emerge from their collaboration. If today it appears dated that’s because it is. Written in 1945, Rodgers’ music is as lilting as ever with Hammerstein’s lyrics as fresh as newly mown hay, but Hammerstein’s book, while ground-breaking in 1945, today seems morally heavy-handed.

The Woman Tamer

By Louis Esson. Director: Rob Reid. Assistant Direction and Chorography Kate Brennan. The Owl and the Pussycat. 21 – 25 May, 2013.

Rob Reid is nothing if not courageous. So often one hears it said that real Art is born of taking risks. Couched in ambiguity this fascinating production risks being rebuffed for being obscure.

The Death of Peter Pan.

By Barry Lowe. Directed by Robert Chuter. Fly-on-the-Wall Theatre Co. Chapel off Chapel, Vic. 22 May – 2 June, 2013

Being unfamiliar with this play, I was a little perturbed by its title. To my great relief, The Death of Peter Pan turned out not to be an attempt to skewer one of my cherished childhood heroes. Instead, this multilayered, elegantly written and often challenging play tells the sad true story of 1920s Oxford University student Michael Llewelyn Davies - one of the adoptive sons of Peter Pan author JM Barrie - and his tragic love affair with attractively brash and outspoken Rupert Buxton.

flowerchildren

By Peter Fitzpatrick. Magnormos (Vic). Comedy Theatre, Melbourne. Director/Musical Arranger: Aaron Joyner. Producer: Margaret Fisk. Music Director Sophie Thomas. Set/Costume Design: Christina Logan-Bell. 23rd May – 23rd June, 2013.

flowerchildren is a triumph with glorious singing, wonderful writing, and eye-catching visuals. Peter Fitzpatrick’s musical about 1960’s musical sensation The Mamas and The Papas, is an original delight.

flowerchildren’s narrative follows the success and self-destruction of The Mamas and The Papas between 1965–68 when they released five albums and had eleven Top 40 hit singles including California Dreamin’, Monday Monday, and Go Where You Wanna Go.

A Storm in a D Cup

Written and Performed by Amelia Ryan. Director Ben Pfeiffer. Musical Director Cameron Thomas. The Butterfly Club (Vic) – May 22 – 26 & Kew Court House – June 29 & 30, 2013.

Amelia Ryan is all ringlets and sparkle as she presents her one-woman show.

Ryan, a 2012 Australian Cabaret Showcase Prize Winner, is a generous performer who invests great energy and passion into this performance. The show begins with the childhood discovery that her father is gay, and his relationship with a transgender step-mother, before we are led through a litany of personal mishaps, parking fines, driving debacles, pole dancing injuries, romantic exploits and physical ailments.

One Man, Two Guvnors

By Richard Bean, from Goldoni’s Servant of Two Masters. Director Nicholas Hynter. The National Theatre of Great Britain. Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. May 17 – June 22, 2013.

Take a classic Comedia dell’Arte play, transport it to Brighton in 1963 – the time when the infamous Kray Twins were at their peak, throw in every piece of Music Hall/vaudeville shtick and every gag from the golden years of revue and variety, add a skiffle band and shake vigorously and you have what is billed as “The Funniest Show in the World?” Is it? Well, yes, if the opening night audience was anything to go by. There’s not one original line or piece of business in the show, but that just adds to the homage of the bye-gone variety days.

Pack of Lies

By Hugh Whitemore. Centenary Theatre Group (Qld). 4 – 25 May, 2013

The strengths of this Cold War spy docudrama are splendidly conceived dialogue played expertly by a shrewdly chosen cast. It was slick, entertaining and engaging. Congratulations, director, Dale Murison.

It is based on reality. In the paranoia period, 1961,when both Britain and the USA were obsessed with Russian spies, an American couple (masquerading as Canadians) in suburban London were suspected by MI5 of spying. Names of all characters in the play have been changed.

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