Reviews

The Shoehorn Sonata

By John Misto. Squeaky Dog Productions. Directed by Joanna Joy. Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre (782 Kingsway, Gymea, Sydney). 3-9 February 2017

When John Misto wrote his play The Shoehorn Sonata in 1995, the Australian Government had not yet built a memorial to the forty-one Australian army nurses who suffered during World War II. It wasn’t until 1999 that a memorial was finally built in Canberra.

Labels

Directed by Joe Sellman-Leava. Worklight / Fringe World. Blue Room Theatre, Perth, WA. Jan 28 - Feb 4, 2017

Joe Sellman-Leava captivates his audience in this award-winning one-man show about labels that are placed upon people and the wider issues of racism, immigration and displaced people.

Jumping the Shark Fantastic

Directed by Malcolm Whittaker (Outside Eye - Jennifer Jamieson). Fringe World. PICA – Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Feb 1-4, 2017

Jumping the Shark Fantastic is an effort to discover what would constitute the best theatre ever.  An hour long presentation of ALL of the best ideas.

The Book of Mormon

Book, Music and Lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Directed by Trey Parker and Casey Nicholaw. Princess Theatre Melbourne – Opening Night, February 4, 2017.

Let me start with the tagline:- The Book Of Mormon Is Quite Simply The Funniest Musical Of All Time.

There! It’s just my opinion but I’ll take on any challengers (not that I expect there to be any). This marvellous piece of buffoonery, for all it’s crudity and brashness, is warm, endearing, positive and with a terrific score.

The slim storyline sees newly appointed missionaries sent to Uganda, where the population is dying from AIDS, poverty, neglect and terrorism. Can anything in the Book Of Mormon actually ease their plight?

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Book by Jeffrey Lane. Music and Lyrics by David Yazbeck. Phoenix Ensemble Inc. Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds, Queensland. February 3 – 25, 2017.

The story opens with the smooth and self-loving lothario Lawrence Jameson (played excellently by Frog Johnson) conning the rich and wonderful women of the French Riviera out of their jewels and cash quite happily, until the young and somewhat enthusiastic try-hard Freddy Benson (Trent Richards) arrives to try his luck. Into the mix is added Phillip Fitzjohn as Jameson's sidekick Andre Thibault and Danika Saal as Christine Colgate, the eventual main target for the two prime protagonists.

La Traviata

By Guiseppe Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave. Opera Australia. Directed by Elijah Moshinsky. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. February 3 to April 1, 2017.

Opera Australia's 200th performance of La Traviata had a decidedly international flavour. In the lead as Violetta was Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho, who gave such a masterclass in emotive performance that she prompted the usually reserved Opera Australia audience to their feet.  

She remained in character during the ovation at the curtain call – appearing utterly spent, just moments after a spectacular final collapse onto the stage. The highlights of her singing were the sustained low pianissimo and clarity of her highest notes.

Sad Digger Mad Mary

Written and performed by Tom Halls. Directed by Yvonne Virsik. Hotel Now / Midsumma Festival. Produced by Anastasia Ryan. La Mama Courthouse. February 3 – 5, 2017.

Did the Digger abandon his post or was he dismissed because of his sexual orientation? Was the Australian army in Gallipoli, or were the soldiers in a different conflict? It was not quite clear but irrelevant; whatever the reason for leaving and wherever it was set, Sad Digger Mad Mary highlights the all too often recurring theme of hypocrisy and non-acceptance of diversity, especially accentuated in extreme circumstances such as the military.

West of the Moon

Written and directed by Clare Testoni. Fringe World. The Blue Room Theatre, Northbridge WA. Jan 21 - Feb 4, 2017

West of the Moon is a fairy-tale for older children - a picture book treat, with a strong female heroine and a lovely message of self-belief and independence.

A Strategic Plan

By Ross Mueller. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre. Jan 27 – Mar 11, 2017

For those in the small-to-medium sector who survived George Brandis – and kept their sense of humour – there are big laughs in A Strategic Plan

In from the cold, rock muso Andrew (Justin Smith) is now the dedicated CEO of a music studio for teenagers, Staccato; he’s has just finished an ambitious Australia Council application. But Staccato’s sleazebag chairman Simon (Matt Day) recruits HR monster Linda (Briallen Clarke) to help roll Andrew as a failure in strategic planning.   

not a very good story

By May Jasper. Directed by Daniel Rice. Fringe World. The Blue Room Theatre, Northbridge, WA. Jan 31 - Feb 4, 2017

This is “not a very good story” begins Stephanie, as she proceeds to directly address the audience about events at her work place. It turns out to be a fascinating story that has the audience engrossed from beginning to end.

Solo performer May Jasper, has developed a beautifully realistic character in Stephanie. Stephanie has been ill and has returned to work at a call-centre after a long absence. A little bit shy, socially awkward and somewhat child-like, she brings a unique perspective, and what feels to be unintentional humour, to what is a disturbing tale.

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