Reviews

Blithe Spirit

By Noël Coward. Canberra Repertory. Directed by Kate Blackhurst. Theatre 3, Canberra, 21 November – 6 December 2014.

The inaugural season, in 1941 London, of Noël Coward’s tale (set in 1941) of the catastrophic results of a seance was so successful in raising war-weary spirits—so to speak—that it ran for years.  Surely Canberra Rep’s present production would have been equally successful, hitting, as it does, all the right notes.  Deadpan lines are delivered to devastating humorous effect.

Still Point Turning

FORM Dance Projects. Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres Parramatta. November 27 – 29, 2014.

Choreographer and performer Linda Luke’s “dance poem” was initially inspired by TS Eliot’s poem Burnt Norton, that describes the changes brought about by the cyclical effects of time and the seasons in the garden of a house in the Cotswolds. It takes its title from the line “At the still point of the turning world”.

Freud’s Last Session

By Mark St Germain. Director: Adam Cook. Strange Duck Productions. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 26 Nov – 7 Dec 2014

When one of the world’s most infamous atheists meets a Christianity convert the scene is set for a powerful meeting of the minds. When the atheist is the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud and the Christian convert is Oxford Professor C.J. Lewis then the notches on the intellectual debate rise dramatically.

Kiss Me, Kate

Music and lyrics by Cole Porter. Book: Samuel and Bella Spewack. Darlington Theatre Players. Marloo Theatre, Greenmount WA. 21 November - 13 December, 2014

Darlington Theatre Players have chosen Kiss Me, Kate as the ultimate production in their year of Shakespeare inspired productions. a lovely bright, choice to close the season, it is directed by Neroli Burton, musically directed by (her son-in-law) Justin Freind and choreographed by Jessica Russell.

James Joyce’s The Dead

Music: Shaun Daley. Lyrics: Richard Nelson & Shaun Davey. Book: Richard Nelson based on James Joyce’s The Dead. Villanova Players. Director: Rod Thompson. Musical Director: Mary Greathead. Choreography: Lynette Wockner. The Theatre, TAFE, Morningside. Brisbane, 21 Nov – 6 Dec 2014

The musical version of James Joyce’s acclaimed short-story The Dead from the Dubliners is not your typical piece of musical theatre. More a play with songs, the work recalls an earlier time when families gathered around the piano and sang favourite tunes. There was no traditional orchestra as such with members of the cast playing various musical instruments on stage; piano, fiddle, flute, concertina and a bodhran (an Irish Frame Drum).

Jumpers for Goalposts

By Tom Wells. Directed by Tom Healey. Red Stitch Theatre Company, St Kilda. November 19 – December 20, 2014

Jumpers for Goalposts is a beautifully written, thought-provoking play – the title refers to the predilection of English folk to improvise a game of soccer using whatever facilities are to hand. ‘Barely Athletic’ are an amateur soccer team consisting of three gay men and one token straight, none of whom appear to be any great shakes as players. This doesn’t stop their lesbian coach Viv from being determined that they’re going to win a trophy which she can proudly display on the wall of her pub.

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress

By Alan Ball. Javeenbah Theatre Company, Gold Coast. Director: Dawn China. November 21st – December 6th, 2014

Alan Ball, the creator of TV shows and films like Six Feet Under, True Blood and American Beauty has penned this very witty dark comedy, set at the home wedding reception of Tracey and Scott: She is despised by all the Bridesmaids – the Five Women Wearing the Same Dressand he has had a fling (of sorts) with each of the Bridesmaids.

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Hugh Wheeler. New Theatre (NSW). Director: Giles Gartrell-Mills. Musical Director: Liam Kemp. Choreographer: Trent Kidd. November 18 – December 20, 2014.

Adapted from a blood and thunder melodrama, Sweeney Todd tells the tale of a barber, a former convict who returns to London from Australia bent on revenge for his unjust transportation, and proceeds slit the throats his customers, who are subsequently baked into pies by his accomplice Mrs Lovett.

Farndale Avenue … A Christmas Carol

Written and composed by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jnr. Tambourine Mountain Little Theatre, Gold Coast. Director: Joan Stalker Brown. Nov 7th to 22nd, 2014.

The “girls” were at it again.... The members of The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Town’s Women Guild Dramatic Society decided to present Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol with the usual dysfunctional results.

Joan Stalker Brown obviously had a ‘ball’ at rehearsals with this odd assortment of characters in the hands of the 5 ‘well intentioned’ members of the Guild.

The talented cast of Laney McLean, Linda Simister, Sonia Wagstaff, Tony Hall and Steve Silansky between them, tackled 24 characters.

Tosca

By Giacomo Puccini. Yarra Opera. Conductor: Nigel McBain. Memorial Hall, Healesville (Vic) November 22 & 23, 2014.

I well remember the impressive Dido and Aeneas by the forerunner of Yarra Opera, so I was looking forward to this foray into Puccini. I was only partly satisfied.

The orchestra of less than twenty did very well. This particularly applied to the brass and woodwinds. There were a couple of keyboards to fill in for missing instruments and everything was quite tight until a couple of loose moments in Act 3.

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