Reviews

Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare. Sydney Theatre Company. Director: Kip Williams. Designer: David Fleischer. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. September 20 to November 2, 2013

This classic is set not in Verona, but in a contemporary mansion, where children of the filthy rich swing from chandeliers and push around shopping trolleys of alcohol. Aided by contemporary rock music the fast paced action is engaging.

The opening of the season was slightly delayed when the stage revolve played up during rehearsals, and it’s not difficult to see why it would take a while to get the spin right. In the first act, the set moves round at such a rapid pace that at times a brisk jog is needed to keep up.  

Camp

By Gary Baxter. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). Director: Mark Kilmurry. September 19 – October 26, 2013 at the Ensemble, followed by October 30 – November 2 at Q Theatre, Penrith.

The Ensemble has brought a varied palette of well-written plays to the Sydney theatre scene this year, and Camp is no exception. But, unlike more serious and thought-provoking productions, this is a rollicking situation-type comedy that is so very typically Australian and yet universal in its appeal.

Untapped

Raw Dance Company / Brisbane Festival. QUT Gardens Theatre. September 25 – 29, 2013.

It's not often a reviewer can write about the choreography of a tongue, a set of vocal chords, hands and even flippers, but along with ten tapping feet, thumping bass, guitar and percussion, Brisbane-based Raw Dance Company performed with all of the above and more in this rhythmic extravaganza of dazzling sight and sound.

The Peach Season

By Debra Oswald. Castle Hill Players (NSW). Pavilion Theatre. September 27 – October 19, 2013.

Previews are really final rehearsals that give the cast, the crew and the director a gauge of audience reaction and the chance to make last minute ‘twitches’. Yet no one in the small preview audience seemed aware of any of this as they were taken in by the very recognizable characters and timeless themes in this production of Debra Oswald’s play about family ties, teenage rebellion, young love and sibling responsibility.

Children of Eden

Book by John Caird (Based on a concept by Charles Lisanby). Music and Lyrics Stephen Schwartz. Magnormos (Vic). Director: Aaron Joyner. Musical Director: Cameron Thomas. Melbourne Recital Centre. Monday 23rd September, 2013.

Children of Eden is all about the beginning, but it played last in the triptych of Stephen Schwartz’s musicals, preceded by Godspell and Pippin, all presented by Magnormos this September.

The narrative focuses on the two Biblical creation stories in the book of Genesis: Adam, Eve, the Garden of Eden, their banishment into the wilderness, and their sons Cain and Abel in the first half, and then the story of Noah and the flood after interval.

City of Shadows

A Song Cycle of Murder, Misfortune and Forensics by Rachael Dease. For Helium – Malthouse. The Tower, Malthouse Theatre. September 21 to October 5, 2013.

The cumulative effect of City of Shadows is atmospheric, mystifying and fascinatingly haunting. It is something of a shared guilty pleasure to clinically contemplate projected forensic photographic records of disarmingly frank images of faces of the ‘wicked’ caught in that Grand Old Dame and ‘City of Sin’ – Sydney. 

The photographs are generally from the 1920s, an era with its evocative sense of romance still to this day intrinsically deeply embedded in the character and feel of Sydney.

The Phantom of the Opera

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Charles Hart. Directed by Col Peet. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. September 20 – 29, 2013.

It is a thrill to see a musical which is so fiendishly difficult to stage – produced with such panache by a community theatre for the first time in Sydney.

The Miranda Musical Society had the additional challenge of staging the work in a venue without a fly tower – which limited the famous chandeliers to a hoist -  and inadequate space for the orchestra.

Instead the audience could see the off stage musicians corralled next to the entrance to the dress circle, with the music piped back into the venue.  

Heart Thy Neighbour

By Camilla Maxwell. ReAction Theatre. Melbourne Fringe Festival. Director: Louise Howlett. September 18 – 27, 2013.

In a suburban back yard neighbours catch up over a barbeque and a few drinks, and a few more drinks, and we witness the effects of too much alcohol on a neighbourhood feud.

Annie

By Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. SQUIDS. Redcliffe Entertainment Centre (Q). 19 - 28 September 2013

This musical, based on Harold Gray’s 1930s comic strip featuring the feisty, ever-optimistic eleven-year-old red-haired orphan, Annie, gives us an insight into life and politics in New York during the Great Depression.

From a Black Sky

Composer, Sandra France; Librettist, Helen Nourse. The Street Theatre, Canberra. 20–22 September 2013

This modern opera, set in Canberra’s January 2003 bushfires, conveys modern materialist sentiments and emotional shallowness through appropriately banal lyrics and atonal music.

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