Reviews

Bombshells

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Queensland Theatre Company. Cremorne Theatre. 17 March – 21 April, 2012.

I’m still undecided who was the star of this piece, performer Christen O’Leary or playwright Joanna Murray-Smith who challenged her with six real women across the age spectrum, with individual personalities, psyches and emotional responses. The dynamic little singer/actor/dancer invested each with every shred of talent she had.

Initially she captivated us with angst-ridden mother, Meryl who was bombarded with advice and criticisms from peers, parenting books, radio shows, TV and the social network. Expectations of mothers today have never been greater. 

Beyond the Neck

A Quartet on Loss and Violence. By Tom Holloway. Red Stitch (Vic) Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Designer: Dayna Morrissey. Lighting Designer: Richard Vabre: Sound Designer – Philip McLeod. Cast: Marcus McKenzie, Philippa Spicer, Emmaline Carroll and Roger Oakley. 14 March to 14 April, 2012.

There can be no doubt that significant courage is required to work with material as deeply disturbing as the Port Arthur Massacre. And yes perhaps “To acknowledge grief is to acknowledge love.” (Director’s program notes.)

Four actors, as actors, frame, and as assumed characters, re-enact in disjointed monologues form incidents, in individual lives, surrounding this profoundly traumatic event. A sense of dread and danger underlies the telling that is presented as a montage, not a narrative.

Anything Goes

Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter. Original Book by Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse. New Book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. March 21 – 25, 2012.

Anything Goes is archetypal 1930s musical comedy, pure and simple. Subsequently re-written on many occasions for regular Broadway revivals, the revised script retains the vaudeville shtick character of the original, while Cole Porter the score is supplemented by even more of the songwriter’s classic songs and standards.

The Gingerbread Lady

By Neil Simon. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). March 21 – April 28, 2012. Extended season - Smith Auditorium, Shore School, North May 4 & 5.

This is the  Ensemble’s third  ‘go’ at The Gingerbread Lady (1973, 1987, 2012) and whilst this production is lively and the set impressive, the play, as with most of Simon’s early work, does not sit well in contemporary times. Certainly, the clever, New York-Jewish-style humour still worked for many in the opening night audience. And the delivery of it is beautifully timed. But the play is long (there are two intervals), the dialogue is not economic, and the characters are overstated. This is Neil Simon!

Odyssey

Created by Andreas Litras and John Bolton. Open Stage Carlton (Vic). March 13 - 31, 2012

Andreas Litras created this one man-show about 14 years ago with director John Bolton and it has captured hearts from Hobart to the Melbourne Festival, and the world.

Returning to Melbourne as part of the Antipodes Festival, Odyssey is a beautifully realised story about one family's migration from Greece to Australia through the 50s and 60s. Litras tells his parents' story - their life in Greece before their migration, how they met, made the journey and came to terms with life in a new country.

Muckheap

(In Auslan and English). Polyglot Theatre. Director: Sue Giles. Cromwell Road Theatre, South Yarra (Vic) Mar 10, 2012. Touring Regionally.

This excellent unassuming and energetic work prompts delighted spontaneous laughter form children and adults alike.

David (David Pidd) and Jodie (Jodee Mundy) have to move house and time to pack is running out with a removalist’s truck arriving in about thirty minutes. They are having difficulty sorting things out and deciding what to take and what to throw away, partly due to reluctance to move and partly due to Jodie’s subversive cheeky irreverence. 

Songs for a New World

Rockdale Musical Society. Bexley RSL Club. Director: Osman Kabbara. Musical Director: Greg Jones. March 16- 24, 2012.

Every younger musical theatre performer almost certainly has a Jason Robert Brown song among their audition and party pieces. The American composer / lyricist writes great character and journey songs, which stand alone outside a theatrical context. They are a popular staple on the cabaret circuit. This show is a celebration of Brown’s early songs.

Songs for a New World had its original off-Broadway production in 1995.

A Chorus Line

Conceived by Michael Bennett, Songs by Marvin Hamlisch & Edward Kleban. Gosford Musical Society (NSW). Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford. Director: Chris King. March 9-24, 2012.

The Rake’s Progress

By Igor Stravinsky. Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Gill. Director: John Bell. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. March 17 – 27, 2012.

The Victorian Opera charter is to concentrate on the less familiar operas and so fill in the gaps left by OA. The Rake’s Progressfits this niche nicely and Victorian Opera did themselves proud.

I had seen an OA production with Robert Gard and John Pringle, and recall long scene changes and detailed sets. This production had one simple set with a marble floor and back wall which changed with the lighting. Various pieces of furniture were brought out by the chorus who acted as observers in many scenes. This worked very well.

THE MAIDS

By Jean Genet. The Tap Gallery (NSW). 15 to 19 March 2012. Director: Steven Hopley. Assistant Director: Lucy Bailes.Costume Design: Rain&Hale. Lighting & Sound: Terrance Maxwell.

When the Mistress is away, her Minions will role-play!

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