Reviews

Thérèse Raquin

By Emile Zola, adapted by Helen Howard and Michael Futcher.. ZenZenZo. Old Museum Building, Brisbane. 22 Nov – 8 Dec 2012

It’s exciting when a new play comes on the scene. Community theatres seem to be swamped by shows newly released for amateur production, so I was looking forward to this professional company’s new translation of Thérèse Raquin.

NORMIE The Musical

Book and Original Lyrics by Graeme Johnstone. Original Music by Peter Sullivan. Directed by Simon Eales. OSMaD – Geoffrey McComas Theatre, Scotch College. Nov 23 - Dec 1, 2012.

Normie The Musical has three spectacular things going for it. Normie Rowe, who proves himself the consummate professional throughout in the role of Harold Holt; the fabulous songs of the sixties – if you ever doubted that pop music was better then, you have only to listen to this score to change your mind. The third thing is the amazing young Musical Director and Orchestrator David Wisken - a “wunderkind” of great proportions, who leads his orchestra through his own terrific orchestrations with great style and skill.

Under Milk Wood

By Dylan Thomas. Presented by Wild Voices and The Street Theatre. The Street Theatre, Childers Street Acton, Canberra. 14-17 November 2012

Wild Voices presents a lively reading of this set piece loved for its gorgeous scansion and humanity. Not minimalist so much as sound oriented, the main actors sat in a row on stage under simple warm spots, and the audience was told to close their eyes and let it all wash over them. Behind the row of seats, a few audience members , who had been invited to lie on a bed of several mattresses pushed together, would have had the full surround-sound experience. Rounding off the experience were perfectly timed sound effects provided by a teenaged crew under the direction of Vanessa Nimmo.

DOWNTOWN – The Mod Musical

Created by Phillip George, David Lowenstein, Peter Charles Morris. Auckland Music Theatre, Westpoint Performing Arts Centre, Pt Chevalier, Auckland, New Zealand. November 17th – December 1st 2012.

DOWNTOWN flips through the years like a musical magazine and takes you back to the music, the fashion and the freedom of the 60's. This smashing revue tracks five groovy gals as they come of age during those liberating days that made England swing, using the infectious and soulful pop anthems and ballads that made household names of stars like Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield and Lulu.

Beautiful One Day

Devised and produced by Belvoir, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and version 1.0. Belvoir St. Theatre, Sydney. 17 November – 23 December, 2012

The nine co-devisors of this heartfelt theatre documentary about Palm Island proudly tell us in a program note that “there has been no writer or director... the work has been led at different times by each member of the company”. It’s a fine social process, maybe, but rarely the begetter of focussed, passionate art. As challenging as it is, Beautiful One Day could have done with a good writer’s vision, a good director’s single-mindedness.

Into the Mirror

By Shelley Wall. Damshell Productions. King Street Theatre (Newtown NSW). November 21 – December 15, 2012.

It is Damshel Productions' aim to “produce theatre that addresses social issues and the complexities of the human condition”. This play certainly does that. Without being at all confronting, it uses theatre to raise awareness of the complexities of gender transition – for the individuals and for those they love.

All Shook Up

Inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley. Book by Joe DiPietro. Harlequin Musical Theatre. Director/Choreographer: Susanne Dell Musical Director: Lynnette Leggett. Harlequin Theatre, Pakuranga, Auckland, NZ. November 17 – December 1, 2012.

Inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley with book by Joe DiPietro (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) All Shook Up,with a story line close to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, with its employment of star-crossed lovers, mistaken sexual identity and such is setin Smalltown, USA circa 1955. The townsfolk’s  humdrum existence is rocked when Chad “a rolling roustabout with a song in his soul and an eye for the ladies” rambles into town on his motorcycle, wearing his leather jacket wit

Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert.

Book and lyrics by Doug MacLeod. Music by Yuri Worontschak. Directed by Bryce Ives and Nathan Gilkes. Theatreworks (Vic). Nov 21 – Dec 1, 2012.

The entrée was as kitsch as a pumpkin scone at a nouvelle cuisine bistro:- the cast handing out Anzac biscuits and plastic Australian flags as the audience took their seats, whilst the very excellent band and back-up singers repeated energetically a 4 bar riff of a song called 1988. (The Anzac biscuits would not have passed Margaret’s test….she insists they should be crispy, but they were soft….and delicious!) It’s Bi-Centennial year and we’re discovering who we really are.

The Greening of Grace

By William Zappa. Wildie Creative. Theatre 19 (formerly The Darlinghurst Theatre). Nov 16 – Dec 9, 2012

After performing his own solo play, Winter’s Discontent, about an actor preparing, actor William Zappa picks up his keyboard again to put a grandmother centre stage.  Grace is a knitting, cardy-clad granny who is fondly eye-rolling about her class warrior husband, an angry Labor man, and his battles with their only child, Jane; she’s found new life and new marriage with a banker and the brittle certainties of Christian capitalism.

I, Animal

World Premiere. The Border Project. Zoos Victoria. Melbourne Zoo. Directors: Sam Haren and Daniel Koerner. Producers: Nichola Miles and Katherine Fyffe. Technology by Art Processors. Nightly at 6.30pm from 23rd November, 2012.

Don’t bring the children to this adults-only experience at Melbourne Zoo. Seriously, don’t. I, Animal is an irresistible piece of interactive performance art, utilising patrons and zoo creatures as cast, and the environs of Melbourne Zoo as stage and set. 

Following the success of I Am Not An Animal (Ruby Award for Innovation 2012), Adelaide company The Border Project was commissioned by Zoos Victoria to create what is a unique interactive experience.

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