Reviews

Head Full of Love

By Alana Valentine. Directed by Wesley Enoch. Queensland Theatre Company / Performing Lines. The Street Theatre, Canberra 3-4 July 2015 and touring regional Australia through 2015.

This play is a warm hug on a chilly winter’s night. With a backdrop of the wonderfully idiosyncratic Alice Springs Beanie Festival, Head Full of Love is about the unlikely friendship between a traditional Aboriginal woman living with renal failure in the absolute poverty of an Alice Springs town camp, and an older white woman running away from Sydney and her family.

Bugsy Malone

By Paul Williams and Alan Parker. Directed by Jodie Innes, Musical Direction by Krispin Maesalu. Phoenix Theatre, Memorial Hall, Spearwood, WA. 11-18 July 2015

Bugsy Malone, presented by Phoenix Theatre, is perfectly timed to coincide with school holidays and would make a great holiday treat for families. It features an enthusiastic cast of kids whose joy of performing is contagious.

Shining in the title role is Connor Gosatti who has the skills to carry a show, a perfect Bronx accent and more charm than a young Scott Baio.

Ashley Garner, a little slim for Fat Sam, handles the gangster role beautifully and is a standout performer.

Gruesome Playground Injuries

By Rajiv Joseph. Playlovers. Directed by Kristen Twynam-Perkins. Hackett Hall, Floreat, WA. 10- 25 July 2015

Playlovers' Gruesome Playground Injuries is billed as "an unsentimental non-linear anti romance" by Rajiv Joseph. This shortish two-hander is beautifully presented and makes an entertaining evening.

Director Kristen Twynam-Perkins takes a Brechtian approach to the production, and between scenes we watch as the actors transform their characters with changes of ages, emotional state and in the case of the character Doug, creating a variety of bizaare injuries. The characters appear at various ages between 8 and 38.

Country Song

By Reg Cribb. Directed by Wesley Enoch. Original concept by Michael Tuahine. Queensland Theatre Company and QPAC. Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane. 4 July to 8 August, 2015

I really enjoyed this show. It has a thoughtful and moving script and is a fitting tribute to the legendary singer Jimmy Little who also played an integral part in bringing Aboriginal Australians into the spotlight. This is a biographical journey full of humanity and insight and it is more than just the life of an entertainer: it is also an entertainment in itself.

Hotel Sorrento

By Hannie Rayson. Javeenbah Theatre Co, Nerang, Gold Coast. Director: Joan Stalker-Brown. July 11th – 25th, 2015

Hannie Rayson’s plot revolves around three sisters, reunited after a number of years, and the turmoil that has arisen from a novel written by one of them, Meg, which has been based on this dysfunctional family – of course, the names have been changed. This book has been short- listed for the prestigious Booker Prize much to the family’s chagrin.

The Little Mermaid Jr

By Doug Wright, Howard Ashman, Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. Eltham Little Theatre. Director: John Leahy. Musical Director: Nicola Ramsay. Choreographer: Amanda Byron. July 3 – 12, 2015

Eltham Little Theatre’s annual junior musical was The Little Mermaid Jr and it was another resounding success. This was the youngest cast they had featured in some time, with no one over sixteen, but they were very good.

West Side Story

Music by Leonard Bernstein. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Arthur Laurents. Conceived by Jerome Robbins. Directed by Gale Edwards. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. 11th-19th July, 2015

If there was ever any question about the towering, innovative qualities of excellence that abound in this justifiably iconic musical, they are laid to rest once and for all in this, The Production Company’s, 50th production. Other musicals may pale and grow old or dated; their books may lose their lustre; their characterisations become stilted and cardboard 2D like over time; but not so West Side Story.

Into The Woods

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Fab Nobs Theatre. Bayswater (Vic). July 10-25, 2015

One of the joys of reviewing good community theatre is the exhilaration of seeing companies with miniscule budgets present full blown multi million dollar musicals, and sharing the passion that they imbue each show with.

Merrily We Roll Along

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by George Furth. Riverside Lyric Ensemble. Parramatta Riverside Theatre. July 10 – 18, 2015.

This precision-paced production is a fine example of what community theatre can achieve. The direction is as creative and tight as the score itself. There are many great songs in this musical, all of which are quintessential to the characters and the tale they tell – and this production shows understanding of and respect for the special rhythms and juxtapositions that make Sondheim’s works that little bit different.

Cuckoo

By Jane Miller. 15 Minutes from Anywhere Company. At fortyfive downstairs, Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 8 – 28 July 2015

Mel (Natalie Carr) and Leo (Matthew Molony) are a suburban couple alienated from each other.  He plays with Lego; she does crossword puzzles on her computer.  They talk past each other.  He wants a dog; she doesn’t.  There’s talk of getting away somewhere, but it’s just talk.  Suddenly, they are confronted with ‘Johno’ (Samuel Russo) – a man-child – who claims to have been in a bike accident just outside, but asks if they can make him some toast.  Who is this guy?  ‘You know who I am,’ says Johno. 

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