Reviews

Tosca

By Puccini. Opera Australia. Director: John Bell. Conductor: Andrea Battistoni. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. April 24 – May 10, 2018.

I’d seen this lavish production before, and it still wears well. In Act 1 the church of Sant' Andrea della Valle looked magnificent with layers of gold on the walls, and in the gaol of Act 3 a guard patrolled the upper level as some frightened Jews try to sleep below.

Setting the opera in Nazi Germany worked well. I particularly liked the “shepherd boy” being a young Jewish lad inside the gaol, with an uncertain future. In the second act Scarpia molests an embarrassed female officer in front of the other soldiers.

 

The Time Machine

By Frank Gauntlett, based on the novella by H. G. Wells. Strange Duck Productions. Directed by Gareth Boylan. The Playhouse, NIDA Theatres, Kensington. April 11 – May 2, 2018.

Playwright Frank Gauntlett’s adaptation of H. G . Wells’ novella The Time Machine is based on the 1960s version of Wells’ original storyline for the film. Gauntlett’s play brings the themes of both H.G. Wells’ film and novella from the setting of the 1900s to present day issues of climate change and extinction.

Mark Lee, as the scientist and inventor of a time machine, discovers going into a future, 802,701 AD precisely, that there are no animal life present.

 

Hold Your Breath (Count to Ten)

By Daley King. Antifragile. Directed by Susie Conte. The Studio, The Blue Room, Northbridge, WA. April 23 - May 12, 2018

Daley King, writer of Hold Your Breath (Count to Ten), has issues. Fed up with the inability of theatre to tackle some issues, he is determined to make a theatre piece that deals with his own emotional, mental and physical debilities.

This doesn’t sound like the most uplifting premise for a play, and regular theatre-goers have all seen sagas of the depressed or broken artist before, but Hold Your Breath (Count to Ten) has a wonderfully fresh approach and this World Premiere from Antifragile is thoroughly engaging from start to finish.

The 78-Storey Treehouse

Adapted for the stage by Richard Tulloch from the book by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton. CDP Kids Production. Adelaide Festival Centre. April 24 – May 5, 2018

I was really looking forward to seeing The 78-Storey Treehouse because the books are a best sellers and boys in particular love them. However, I have to admit to being underwhelmed by the production and the adaptation generally.

The Cunning Little Vixen

by Leoš Janáček. West Australian Opera. Directed by Stuart Maunder. His Majesty’s Theatre, Hay St, Perth, WA. 21-28 April, 2018

In the first few moments of West Australian Opera’s latest production, a collection of gorgeously attired forest animals crawl, slide and bound on to the stage. It is the first sign that The Cunning Little Vixen is not your usual opera.

Mozart Requiem

Australian Chamber Choir. Conductor: Douglas Lawrence. Scot’s Church, Melbourne. April 22, 2018

The Australian Chamber Choir is one of the best small auditioned choirs in Melbourne, and has extensive experience touring Europe to critical acclaim. This was the first time I had encountered them.

The concert opened with Palestrina’s Stabat Mater, a short, eight part a capella work, sung exquisitely. There was lots of light and shade.

Right Now

By Catherine-Anne Toupin, translated by Chris Campbell. Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre. Red Stitch, East St Kilda VIC. 17 April – 20 May 2018

As this rather discombobulating play begins and you try to get a handle on it – or at least a reference point in the ‘real world’- you might be thinking, ‘Yasmina Reza… meets Harold Pinter?’  There is the polite bourgeois surface – about to be disrupted; there is the sense of imminent menace.  A previous reviewer cited Joe Orton and Rosemary’s Baby.  All these apply – and then some.  Meaning or comprehension keep dissolving, slipping away.  The seemingly banal becomes bizarre.  Normal social niceti

Madagascar

Book by Kevin Del Aquila; Original Music & Lyrics by George Noriega & Joel Someillan. South Australian Premiere. Adelaide Youth Theatre. The Arts Theatre. 19-21 April 2018

The Adelaide Youth Theatre is one of the best ‘youth theatres’ in Australia. In viewing this South Australian Premiere production of Madagascar, based on the 2005 Dreamworks animated film, it is easy to see why. The high standard of excellence in all fields – the singing, dancing and the acting. This hour-long original adaptation allows for a relatively large cast of young performers to excel – and excel they most certainly did.

Disney Beauty And The Beast Jr

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tim Rice. Book by Linda Woolverton. Playhouse Theatre Inc. Directed by Matt Billington. The Playhouse Theatre Glen Eden. April 21 to 28, 2018

PTI’s production of Disney Beauty And The Beast is a ground-breaking initiative. The entire production team, on and off stage, are aged between 6 -27 years old. This is Next Gen Theatre in action.

Private Lives

By Noël Coward. Elanora Players. April 20 – 28, 2018.

Elanora Players brings Private Lives into the 21st Century on a stylish set where silver, red and black predominate. Electronic devices are used to provide contemporary music for the tango and argument in Act 2, and by the maid Louise (Iwona Abramowicz), who dances to her iPod as she cleverly converts the balcony to an apartment between Act 1 and 2.

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