Reviews

School Dance

By Matthew Whittet. Windmill Theatre / Sydney Festival / Sydney Theatre Company. Director: Rosemary Myers. Wharf 1, Theatre (NSW). January 10 – February 3, 2013.

School Dance is a lot of fun; it encompasses a range of emotions, schoolyard politics, stereotypes, egos and personas that we’ve all known, been a part of, or been on the wrong side of at some stage in our lives.

The premise of this play is that three friends meet outside the school dance and as they wait to go in, they invite us into their world of hormones, angst, fear, home-life, identity and emotion. While I quite liked the play, it was fairly predictable. 

Peter Pan

By J.M. Barrie. Adapted by Tommy Murphy. Director: Ralph Myers.. Set Design by Robert Cousins. Belvoir (NSW) January 9 - February 10, 2013.

The first thing that crossed my mind was how are they going to fly and where will the Pirate ship come from?  The Belvoir Street Theatre was once a tomato sauce factory and has never been converted into a regular theatre with curtains and proscenium.  

The bedroom of Wendy, Michael and John was the one and only set for this production.

On the shelves were board games with no electronic gadgetry in sight (This was the way bedrooms looked like when I was a lad). But how could this be turned into the backdrop for the adventures of Peter Pan?

The Wind in the Willows

By Kenneth Grahame. Glenn Elston / Australian Shakespeare Company. The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. January 4 – 27, 2013.

“That was fun!” A bit understated, but still not a bad review from a six year old, though, for his agehe is a fairly seasoned theatre-goer. The main thing is that he knows the story backwards and was not disappointed about anything being omitted. To be able to include all the main events, even losing little Portly Otter, means that this adaptation doesn’t disappoint kids – or parents, or grandparents – who know the characters and their little idiosyncrasies so well.

Rust and Bone

By Caleb Lewis. Griffin Independent and Stories Like These. SBW Stables Theatre (NSW). January 12 – February 2, 2013.

Peter Gahan and Luke Rogers explain that Stories Like These is “dedicated to creating imaginative, challenging and compelling theatre with a commitment to Australian artists and voices”. Rust and Bone is all of the above. It is adapted by celebrated Australian playwright Caleb Lewis from the writing of Craig Davidson. It is directed by young South Australian theatre practitioner, Corey McMahon, and demands challenging performances from its three actors, Wade Briggs, Renato Musolino and Sam Smith.

Out Damn Snot

La Boite and Shake and Stir (Qld). Roundhouse Theatre, 8-19 February, 2013.

Interest in this show began building from November last year. I can’t recall a premiere that attracted such anticipation, or such an overflow audience! 

Not unlike Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Mackenzie, Kimmy and Heath are transported into a fantastic place where they meet amazing characters before they return to reality. 

La bohème

Opera by Giacomo Puccini. Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Director: Gale Edwards. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. December 31, 2012 to Mar 21, 2013

The bittersweet bohemian lifestyle of 1830s Paris, background for Puccini’s great opera, is relocated to 1920s Berlin in Gale Edwards’ production now returning with new principals to the Sydney Opera House. The move between centuries and European capitals brings significant benefit. Puccini’s six ‘arty brats’ seem under even more pressure to join an even nastier mainstream society.

My First Time

By Ken Davenport and ‘Real People Just Like You’. Produced by Andrew Kay and Liza McLean with the Sydney Opera House. Director: Jo Turner. Featuring Sharon Millerchip, Josef Ber, Annie Maynard and Kristian Schmid. Sydney Opera House Jan 4-13, 2012

Hailed as being 'Direct from New York' and with a poster depicting the four actors nude but for strategically placed iPads - My First Time - which was derived from a blog comprising a vast collection of true life stories dedicated to the topic of losing one's virginity - promises to be a titillating, cutting edge production - and for the most part it does deliver. The ensemble cast demonstrates a relaxed, easy rapport and an impressive grasp on the multitude of characterisations set before them.

The Royal George Christmas Cabaret

With Tina Del Twist, Cliff Hanger and a Special Mystery Guest. Friday 22 December, 2012.

In Kyneton residents are privileged to have a hotel that schedules some excellent cabaret and comedy.  It is one of the many great things about living in a town that is its own unique, and growing, cultural oasis.

South Pacific

Music: Richard Rodgers. Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd. Book: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd & Joshua Logan based on novel Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener. Opera Australia & John Frost presentation of the Lincoln Center Theater Production. Director: Bartlett Sher. Music Director: Andrew Greene. Choreographer: Christopher Gattelli. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 2 – 27 January, 2013

Rodgers and Hammerstein virtually created the ‘musical play’ and there’s no better example of their genius than South Pacific. The story of a middle-aged French plantation owner, Emile de Becque, and a young American nurse, Nellie Forbush, who fall in love against a background of the Second World War has drama, comedy and probably the most glorious score the team ever wrote.

War Horse

Written by Nick Stafford from the novel by Michael Morpurgo. National Theatre of Great Britain, Handspring Puppet Company and Global Creatures. Directed by Drew Barr (Australia) from Original Direction by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. December 31, 2012 - March 3, 2013, then Sydney and Brisbane.

Live theatre has the power to suspend disbelief and nurture evocative imagination. It can create magic. We should always be grateful for that. Last night a huge chestnut hunter called Joey was caught in barbed wire and his legs were being cut to pieces. I was crying into my partner’s handkerchief, unaware and uncaring that this was theatre and I wasn’t even crying for a horse – I was crying for a puppet. That, in itself, is magic.

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