Reviews

The Bold, The Young and the Murdered

By Don Zolidis. Bankstown Theatre Company. Bankstown Arts Centre. March 24 - April 2, 2017.

It is often good to see new works, and credit must be given to Bankstown Theatre Company for staging The Bold, The Young and the Murdered, new to me and I suspect other community theatre groups and audiences.

The reputation of the author suggested we were not about to see a literary masterpiece. My research tells me that he specialises in writing spoofs, mostly staged by high school and college groups in the USA.

It therefore becomes an interesting choice by BTC to stage this work. They really have turned a sow’s ear into almost a silk purse.

As Told By The Boys Who Fed Me Apples

By R. Johns. Directed by Greg Caroll. La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton. 22 March – 2 April 2017.

This is a sensational show in all its aspects. The text is beautifully written and is rich with the historical details of the horrors of serving as a light-horseman. All the pathos of the incredible strength of the bond between humans and animals is fully explored in this piece. The play tells the story of the misadventures of the only surviving Australian light horse from WWI, Sandy. The extremely evocative set captures the dangers and the mystique of the battlefield effectively with a realism that has cinematic quality. The lighting and staging techniques are simple, yet striking.

A Comedy of Errors

By William Shakespeare. Melbourne Shakespeare Company. 25 March – 2 April 2017.

Shakespeare’s beloved tale of Egeon, the Merchant of Syracuse, who has arrived illegally in Ephesus in search of his long-lost son. He has two sons, twins both named Antipholus. When they were born, he bought another set of twins, both named Dromio, to be their slaves. But Egeon lost half his family in a ship-wreck when the boys were still babies. Unbeknown to him and the rest of the cast, one Antipholus and one Dromio survived in Ephesus. Hilarity ensues when the family is reunited, but it takes an entire day for everyone to realise the double-up.

The Princess and the Pea

By Ernst Toch. Victorian Opera. Arts Centre Mellbourne, Playhouse. 25th March 2017

In choosing this particular retelling of the famous fairytale, and aiming it squarely at families, Victorian Opera seemed to have succeeded audience-wise – excited children of all ages abounded through the foyer in the Arts Centre, and filled the Playhouse for the 40-minute one-act opera.

Divercity

By Mariaa Randall. Dance Massive 2017. Arts House Melbourne. 22 – 26 March, 2017

A moving exploration of contemporary Aboriginal life, celebrating women and culture, this performance combined dance, language and visual art to share their stories.

To begin the show, Randall invites female-identifying audience members into the performance space. We learn some simple steps and words meaning “woman” in different Aboriginal languages. Moving, speaking together, a collective feeling of pride and empowerment fills the room.

Cockfight

By The Farm. Dance Massive 2017. Meat Market, Melbourne. 24 – 26 March 2017.

A combination of dialogue, dance and physical comedy, Cockfight is a highly amusing exploration of male competitiveness, created by Gold Coast-based artists’ collaboration The Farm and brought to Melbourne by Dance Massive 2017.

It took me a while to warm up to the concept. I questioned why the two characters, an older man and a younger man, were competing with each other. Eventually I gave into it as a humorous reflection of the absurdity of human behaviour.

 

That Face

By Polly Stenham. Directed by Sharon Greenock. Stirling Theatre, Innaloo, WA. March 17- April 1, 2017

The WA Premiere of Polly Stenham’s That Face is currently playing at Stirling Theatre. This fascinating, little-known play, which had a West End run, and was written when the author was just nineteen, features a strong cast.

Fifteen year old Mia is at boarding school and has her mother’s drugs. When she over-doses a younger student during a hazing, Mia is sent home pending expulsion. We find her mother and brother. He has left school to care for her as she is alcoholic and mentally unstable and their relationship is unhealthy on many levels.

The Tempest

By William Shakespeare. WAAPA 3rd Year Acting Students. Directed by Stuart Halusz. State Theatre Centre Courtyard, Perth, WA. 17-23 March, 2017

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, playing outdoors at the State Theatre Centre of WA, was twice thwarted by real-life tempests - but managed to perform most evenings during its short run. Featuring a cast of WAAPA 3rd Year Acting Students, and designed, built and crewed by Production and Design Students, this free production was a wonderful outreach opportunity to find new audiences.

 

Trainspotting Live

Adapted by Harry Gibson. Directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Greg Esplin, presented by Andrew Kay and Associates – a Kings Head and In Your Face production. fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne. 22 March -13 April 2017.

In Your Face Theatre is an ensemble that truly lives up to its name. Trainspotting Live is an immersive theatrical experience like no other. Trainspotting has not only returned as a film sequel but also a live stage production. All the confronting elements of the original story are transformed into a highly visceral experience of the personal degradation related to a drug addicted existence. No audience member is spared direct and palpable contact with this frequently distasteful, yet mesmerising material.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Nate Butler's Studio. Directed by Nicholas Christo. Musical Direction Andrew Swan. Performed by Full-time Musical Theatre Students. Laycock Street Theatre. March 23-25, 2017

It's difficult to know where to start with this review. As a life-long fan of this 45 year old rock opera, I was literally jumping out of my skin when promotional videos of this production sprang up a couple of months ago, advertising that the roles of Jesus, Judas (et al) would be portrayed by females and Mary Magdalene by a male performer. Given this twist, it's almost unthinkable to remember that the original concept album and stage production garnered a wave of controversy for its presumed blasphemy.

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