Reviews

Bad Jews

By Joshua Harmon. Aleksandar Vass & Vass Theatre Group Production. Director: Gary Abrahams. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 12 - 31 July 2016.

Joshua Harmon’s corrosively brutal comedy Bad Jews takes the dynamics of a dysfunctional family to the extreme. The day after their grandfather Poppy’s funeral, in a cramped New York studio apartment, two Jewish brothers, their cousin and a gentile squabble over a piece of religious jewellery that belonged to the deceased. Throughout his internment in a concentration camp Poppy hid the Chai (which in Hebrew means living) from the Nazi’s under his tongue.

House of Dreams

By Penelope Bartlau & Barking Spider Visual Theatre. Fairhall Exhibition House, The Johnston Collection, Melbourne. 12 July – 20 September 2016.

The Johnston Collection of Georgian, Regency and Louis XV paintings, furniture, objet d’art and bric-a-brac is held at ‘Fairhall’, an 1860s house in East Melbourne.  Now a private museum, it was the house of William Johnston (1911-1986), an antique dealer and collector.  He bequeathed his Collection and the house to the people of Victoria ‘as a place of historical and educational interest’.  He wished for his collection to be accessible – no velvet ropes and restricted areas – and for it to be regularly rearranged, which it h

Brief Encounter

By Noël Coward, adapted by Emma Rice. Directed by Jane Sherwood Stirling Theatre, Innaloo, WA. 1-16 July 2016

Based on the Noël Coward play, Still Life, Brief Encounter is an adaptation of the film of the same name. This adaptation is by Emma Rice, who enhances the story with songs by Noël Coward, set to music by Stu Baker.

Jane Sherwood has cast this show very well, her excellent choices giving lovely chemistry and very commendable performances.

Desire Under The Elms

By Eugene O’Neill. Directed by Andrei Schiller-Chan. Sol III Company. Chapel off Chapel. July 7 – 24, 2016

There is a small core of classic playwrights, but some are eternal, and some are of their time; not thematically, for they all use the same tropes and traditions of universal storytelling, but in terms of language, sophistication and their ability to connect with us years later. Shakespeare wrote for the masses 500 years ago, and yet is timeless. Eugene O’Neill wrote less than 100 years ago – yet seems dated in his storytelling, even though both wrote about the same themes many times over.

Harvey

Play by Mary Chase. Nash Theatre. Director: Bianca Butler Reynolds. Merthyr Road Uniting Church, New Farm, Brisbane. 9-30 July 2016

Until The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons revived Harvey on Broadway in 2012, productions of Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize winner had been thin on the ground. Formerlya staple on the community theatre circuit it now seems to be back in favour again. Nash Theatre’s production is the second I’ve reviewed this year.

Despite being written in 1944 the play about a man whose best friend is an imaginary six-foot rabbit still has currency. That’s because at its heart it’s a play about friendships, beliefs and morals.

Titanic

Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeaton. Story and Book by Peter Stone. Directed by James Cutler. StageArt. Chapel off Chapel. July 7 – 24, 2016

“Charming” is an odd word to use about a show which tells of the death of more than 1,000 people, but charming is the first word that comes to mind with Titanic. Maury Yeston’s lovely score (albeit a little repetitive) is poignant and evocative, and Peter Stone’s book quite brilliantly establishes 60 unique and very different characters in just a few vignettes each, creating people we actually care for. It’s also often witty and clever, providing much needed chuckles to break the tension of what is to come.

The Barber of Seville

Opera by Gioacchino Rossini. Libretto: Cesare Sterbini based on Le Barbier de Seville (1775) by Pierre Beaumarchais. Conductor: Roland Peelman. Director: Lindy Hume. Opera Q. Playhouse, QPAC. 9-23 July 2016

This year celebrates the 200th anniversary of Rossini’s beloved Barber of Seville and this Opera Q co-production with Seattle Opera and New Zealand Opera reminds us what a true sparkling confection it is and why it remains as popular today as it was back in the 1800s. A perfect example of Opera-Bouffa its story of mistaken identities and secret lover’s trysts has all the elements of farce and that’s what director Lindy Hume has given us in this highly choreographed door-slamming romp.

Titanic

Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeaton. Story and Book by Peter Stone. Directed by James Cutler. StageArt. Chapel off Chapel. July 7 – 24, 2016

“Charming” is an odd word to use about a show which tells of the death of more than 1,000 people, but charming is the first word that comes to mind with Titanic. Maury Yeston’s lovely score (albeit a little repetitive) is poignant and evocative, and Peter Stone’s book quite brilliantly establishes 60 unique and very different characters in just a few vignettes each, creating people we actually care for. It’s also often witty and clever, providing much needed chuckles to break the tension of what is to come.

The Laramie Project

By Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Company. Blackout Theatre Company. The Depot Theatre, Marrickville. July 6 – 9, 2016

Blackout Theatre Company’s production of The Laramie Project has shown the power of verbatim theatre  – and how movingly effective it can be in the hands of a director and cast who believe so strongly in the message they bring to the stage. Even on closing night, the intensity of the company’s conviction was strong and the emotional impact on the audience compelling.

Hurt

By Catherine McKinnon. Old 505 Theatre, Newtown, NSW. July 5 – 23, 2016

Playwright Catherine McKinnon explains that, as part of trilogy centred on the life-changing effects of traumatic events, “Hurt wrestles with the complexities of our actions towards one another at a time of crisis”.

Three people, implicated in an accident involving a child, face each other in the stark, impersonal space of a hospital waiting room. Their emotions and reactions, distorted by guilt and grief and fear, expose the fragility of the human psyche and the tensions that arise when self control crumbles.

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.