Reviews

Noises Off

By Michael Frayn. Melbourne Theatre Company in partnership with Queensland Theatre. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 8 July – 12 August 2017.

As the title suggests, this play gives the audience a chance to hear, and see, what goes on offstage during a performance. Full of innuendo and fast-paced physical comedy, this is a show for those with a penchant for old-school British comedy. What begins as a series of close calls, deteriorates into outright disaster. It is every theatre person’s worst nightmares jam packed into one show.

Oliver!

Music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. CenterStage. Director: David Mackay. Musical Director: Phil Kearney. Choreographer: Michelle McDowall. Set Design: David Greenwood. Geelong, Victoria. Geelong Performing Arts Centre. July 14 - July 29, 2017

You asked for more… more CenterStage Geelong… and you’ve got it, in this colourful version of a classic musical.

Lionel Bart based his musical on either the novel, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, or David Lean’s 1948 film version of that book (no one is sure which). Either way, Oliver! tells the story of an orphan boy who flees indentured servitude to find his fortune.

Lady Windermere’s Fan

By Oscar Wilde. Directed by Greg Scurr Nash Theatre, New Farm. July 14 – August 5, 2017.

This interplay between various levels of society in a sea of gossip and scandal which causes both outrage and indignation makes for an interesting interpretation of this play, first produced in 1892.  Wilde set the play initially in London but director Greg Scurr has it in Brisbane in the summer of 1954. This meant the audience could relate to their own town, understand the accents and know the music played for background and atmosphere. For the most part, it worked well.

Raising ‘Ell!

Ella Filar. The Butterfly Club. July 12 – 16, 2017

This cabaret claims to chart a descent into Internet Hell.  The seven deadly sins in 2017 are now Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, Grindr and Youtube.   Ella Filar’s thesis is: “Are we real or VIRTUALOnce we’ve been posted, pinged, tweeted and swiped right, left and right again…..”

Enoch Arden

The Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. July 15th, 2017

I remember when I was a child my mother or father used to read to me every night. It was one of the highlights of my childhood. Enoch Arden is a welcome return to those days. It is story-telling for adults, heart-rending and sophisticated.

Next Fall

By Geoffrey Nauffts. Directed by Peter Blackburn. Presented by Boyslikeme at Chapel Off Chapel, Loft Theatre. 12-30 July 2017

In a New York hospital waiting room, a disparate group waits for the outcome of emergency surgery on young, gorgeous Luke (Mark Davis), victim of a random car accident.  Luke’s father, Butch (Paul Robertson) has flown up from Florida.  Luke’s Mom, Arlene (Kaarin Fairfax), absent for most of his growing-up but now repentant, fills every silence with chatter, driving Butch crazy.  Brandon (James Biasetto), a taciturn young man, sits reading a worn Bible.  We won’t find out why Brandon is there until Act 2.  Holly (Sharon Davis), Luke’s employer

This Much Is True

By Louis Nowra. Red Line Productions. Old Fitz Theatre (NSW). July 12 – August 12, 2017.

It’s taken a while but this is Louis Nowra’s final play in his loosely autobiographical trilogy, after Summer of the Aliens about a boyhood in a Melbourne housing commission flat and Cosi about directing Mozart in a mental asylum.

Here in the downstairs theatre of Sydney’s Old Fitz, we meet supposedly the same locals with whom Nowra has been drinking upstairs for the last decade.  In fact, Nowra spent the premiere of This Much Is True not with us but in the front bar in his usual place of inspiration.   

Shrek Jr

Book and Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. Music by Jeanine Tesori. Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig. Young Australian Broadway Chorus. Director: Robert Coates. Musical Director: Andy Coates. Choreographer: Jacqui Green. Union Theatre, Union House at Melbourne University, Parkville. July 12 – 15, 2017.

Having seen the film of Shrek with young grandchildren several years ago, I was pleased to take a student with young grandchildren to this production.

As I have come to expect from this company, there was a cast of thousands, with no weak links. Everyone, from quite young to late teenage, was fully involved, and it was a high energy show.

The costumes were amazing! We had all the nursery rhyme characters with amazing attention to detail.

Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse!

Music: Arthur Sullivan. Libretto: W.S. Gilbert. Opera Q Production. Director: Lindy Hume. Conductor: Roland Peelman with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Choreographer & Assistant Director: Rosetta Cook. Playhouse, QPAC. 14-29 July 2017

Ruddigore or the Witch’s Curse (1887) was Gilbert and Sullivan’s tenth collaboration and coming after the gigantic success of The Mikado it fared badly with the critics and was relegated to the rarely performed in their repertoire.

Australia hasn’t seen it for twenty years, so this new Opera Q production by Lindy Hume is a welcome revival. The piece trades in Victorian-era cloak-and-dagger melodrama with a delightful burlesque edge which Hume captured in some inventive Monty Python-esque sets by Richard Roberts.

Paris: A Rock Odyssey

By Jon English and David Mackay. Music Theatre Melbourne (In Association with Stella Entertainment). Melbourne Recital Centre. 13th to 15th July, 2017

A buzzing full house at the MRC was the perfect audience for the first professional performance of Jon English's passion project: a retelling of the Trojan Wars, with the spotlight thrown on the doomed love of Paris of Troy and the beautiful Helen.

A concert performance was the right choice to showcase this work.  The costumes were an eclectic blend of Greek legend meets rock legend, a fitting look for a tribute to the multi-talented, history-obsessed Jon English.  

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