Reviews

Writer’s Block

Written and directed by Kellie Eatock. World Premiere. Javeenbah Theatre, Nerang, Gold Coast. January 29 – February 13, 2016

Writer’s Block tells of the struggle between Writer, Jane (Libby Bancroft) and her characters to create a story line where everyone is happy with the plot; not an easy situation when the characters are self opinionated and determined to get the outcomes that they believe are rightfully theirs.

Meow Meow's Little Mermaid

Created by Meow Meow. Directed by Michael Kantor. Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse Theatre (Vic). Jan 28 – Feb 14, 2016; then Perth International Arts Festival, 24 - 28 Feb 2016 at Octagon Theatre, UWA

When you take a highly intelligent, very beautiful and multi-talented performer and give her free range over her own creation, you would expect the results to be spectacular and, for the most part, they are.

Herstory

Directed by Imogen Kelly. De Parel Spiegeltent, Urban Orchard, FringeWorld, Perth WA. 27-31 January, 2015

Herstory makes its WA premiere as a late night show night show in De Parel Spiegeltent at FringeWorld.

Part Burlesque, part fun women's history lesson, Imogen Kelly, Burlesque Queen (2012) plays Marlene Dietrich who introduces an hour long show which explores some of history's most notorious women.

A fabulously eclectic production which includes satire, puppetry, singing, amazing aerials, clever short films, stripping and audience interaction, it would be impossible to be bored in this swift ever-changing show.

The Angel of Death

Written and directed by Matthew Briggs. Composed by Josh Heaysman. B&H Theatre Co. The Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide. 26-30 January, 2015.

Where and how did the legend of the Grim Reaper - as spooky as it is indelible - first originate, and what must it be like to have to carry out the duties of the job? B&H Theatre Company have attempted to answer these (and other) questions in a musical theatrical package which, despite more than its share of bumpy and wobbly passages, ultimately sent this reviewer home with a smile.

The Barber of Seville

By Gioachino Rossini and Cesare Sterbini.. Opera Australia. Directed by Elijah Moshinsky. Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 28 – March 22, 2016.

The Barber of Seville is the jewel in Opera Australia’s crown – a seamless and sublime blend of words, music and production.

This is THE opera to take someone a little reluctant on the art form.

It has none of the less attractive features of opera. No-one is stabbed, strangled or commits suicide.  There are no moments of unnecessary repetition. The narrative is purely comedic and has not dated. The tunes are joyous and plentiful. Even the overture is an exciting event.

DivaLicious and the Impresario

Directed by Ian Toyne. The Art Gallery of Western Australia Concourse, Perth Cultural Centre, Fringeworld, WA. 28-30 January, 2016

The first thing that one notices about DivaLicious and the Impresario, apart from the lovely venue, is that the audience is decidedly more mature than the average FringeWorld show, with nary a hipster beard or blue hairdo in sight. In some ways this is a shame, as I feel that this is a show that would be enjoyed by all, and the few teens and twenties in the audience clearly had a ball.

Untitled, or The Seat of Narcissa

By Sofia Chapman. Burning Deck Theatre Company. Part of the 2016 MIDSUMMA Festival. La Mama Theatre. Jan 19 – 31, 2016

Untitled, or The Seat of Narcissa is a rollicking, queer period romp with a talented cast.  It is presented by Burning Deck Theatre Company, who had a success with The Four Accordionists of the Apocalypse at Melbourne Fringe in 2012. Like The Four Horses, Narcissa looks at issues with a musical comedy approach wrapped around mythology.

ABCs Of Growing Up

Directed by Joe Mooney. Four5Nine Bar, North Perth, WA. FringeWorld. 26-31 January, 2016

Joe Mooney presents his comedy show, ABCs Of Growing Up, in the cosy Four5Nine Bar at the Rosemount Hotel, as part of FringeWorld.

Comedy is exceedingly difficult to play to a small crowd, and the audience numbered just nine (at least a third of whom were media), at the 5.30pm show that I attended. Nevertheless the solo performer worked the small crowd beautifully, and while laughs weren't raucous, they were steady and a good time was had by all.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman & Glenn Slater. Book by Doug Wright. Adelaide Youth Theatre. Directed by Thomas Phillips. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide, 28-31 January, 2016

Given the inherent limitations of youth theatre, this production of Disney’s  The Little Mermaid is an impressively staged, delightfully spirited affair. Those adults who retain affection for the source material, and are willing to be generous enough in their suspension of disbelief to accept performers playing above their age, will be rewarded with a musically accomplished and emotionally astute rendition of this comfortably familiar piece. Children who come to see this will be rewarded with an intelligent production that does not talk down to them.

The Secret Garden

Book & Lyrics by Marsha Norman. Music by Lucy Simon. Based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Young Australian Broadway Chorus. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler. January 22 – 30, 2016.

The Secret Garden was written in 1909 by Frances Hodgson Burnett and adapted as a musical in 1989. It ran on Broadway for 709 performances and has been adapted several times for TV and film. The 1993 film version directed by Agnieszka Holland is a particular favourite of this reviewer. The story is a Victorian fairy tale about a young girl, Mary Lennox (with a strong central performance by Alexandra Denovan) is sent to live with her Uncle when her parents die of cholera. Her Uncle’s house in North Yorkshire is a vast mansion full of secrets.

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