Reviews

The River

By Jez Butterworth. Red Stitch. Directed by John Kachoyan. 29th April – 28th May, 2016.

Much like the river itself after dark, Butterworth’s newest play is deep, mysterious and mesmerising. The restlessness of peripatetic flow is explored through those things we see on the surface, often minutiae and deceptive – the movement of the furniture, the gutting of a fish – but submerged at unfathomable depths there is menace, and secrets, and possibly even danger. And, like the river, the playwright only hints at how deep that menace lies.

Noises Off

By Michael Frayn. Beenleigh Theatre Group. Crete Street Theatre. April 29 – May 7, 2016.

The quintessential theatre-lover’s play, Noises Off arrives at Beenleigh Theatre Group, directed by Roslyn Johnson and Samuel Gregory. It is loaded with F’s…frantic, frolicking, and farcical. It was touted by many as the most hilarious show ever put onstage. Yet, with an amazing script come large expectations and the need for top talent.

Twelve Angry Men

By Reginald Rose. Heidelberg Theatre Company. Directed by Chris Baldock. APRIL 29 - May 14, 2016.

Some may question the validity of another revival of Rose’s classic 1950s play about prejudice and  persistence. Those people really need to see this production, and their question will be answered for all time.

Rose’s claustrophobic drama is set in a jury room, and the problem has largely been, for stage, that the audience is too removed to feel truly connected to what is happening. It’s one of the reasons why the film was more successful; it allowed us to get in close, to see the beads of sweat on a top lip – to see the doubt in a man’s eyes.

The Last Romance

By Joe DiPietro. Toowoomba Repertory Theatre. Direction: Mike Taylor. 29 April – 14 May 2016

Joe DiPietro’s The Last Romance is a charming, sweet play about love in your twilight years. Set in New Jersey, Ralph, an 80-year-old widower, whose passion is opera and who at one-time auditioned for the Met, unexpectedly meets Carol, a former executive secretary in a dog park where’s she’s walking her Chihuahua, Peaches.

Disney's Aladdin Jr.

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tim Rice. Book adapted & additional lyrics by Jim Luigs. Music adapted and arranged by Brian Louiselle. Based on the screenplay by Ron Clements and John Musker, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. Adelaide Youth Theatre. Arts Theatre. 28-30 April, 2016.

Can a wild and wonderful animated movie musical translate successfully to the stage? You bet it can; in the hands of Adelaide Youth Theatre, Disney’s Aladdin becomes a genuine treat.

Dad's Army

By Jimmy Perry and David Croft. Launceston Players. Directed by Jeff Hockley, co-directed by Mark Horner. Earl Arts Centre, Launceston. 26th April – 7th May 2016

Recreating the popular BBC television sitcom Dad’s Army could be risky business, unless you have a large pool of males to draw on. For Launceston Players director Jeff Hockley, there was a good choice and casting was spot-on. Dad’s Army is a much-loved production, with the crowds enjoying the fun and nostalgia.

Pennsylvania Avenue

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Starring Bernadette Robinson. Directed by Simon Phillips. Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. April 28 – May 22, 2016

Bernadette Robinson’s one-woman show Songs for Nobodies turned her into a theatrical star, with critics searching for superlatives, wondering where she’d been hiding all these years. So the next idea had to be a good one.

It’s a risky idea too: she and her Australian creative team devised a particularly American show, drawing inevitable comparisons to Broadway and off-Broadway performers, who are, after all, rather good at this kind of thing.

Henry IV Part I

By William Shakespeare. Directed by James Christensen. Melbourne University Shakespeare Company. Guild Theatre: 1st Floor, Union House, University of Melbourne. 28 April – 7 May, 2016.

This production contributes to the calendar of events organised by the University of Melbourne to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, which celebrates his literary and theatrical legacy. Christensen has devised an unusual modern adaptation with Queen Henry IV (Adelaide Greig) reigning on the throne and looking to her daughter Princess Hal (Kate Weston) to step up to the role of fortifying their position.

The Full Monty

Music & Lyrics by David Yazbek. Book by Terrence McNally. Based upon the screenplay by Simon Beaufoy. The Hills Musical Company (SA). Directed by Max Rayner. Stirling Community Theatre. April 29 – May 14, 2016

Feel-good crowd pleaser The Full Monty is treated to a small-scale, but big-hearted revival from The Hills Musical Society.

Sets are minimalist, with the production often relying upon projected imagery to set the scene. But that isn't too much of an issue, as the show is primarily a character piece and the high-energy dance choreography delivers the goods in terms of visual spectacle. 

Uncle Vanya

By Anton Chekhov, adapted by David Mamet. Canberra Repertory Society. Directed by Geoffrey Borny. Theatre 3, Acton. 28 April – 14 May, 2016

In vino veritas: in wine is truth. One of the most beautiful, truthful moments in Rep’s production comes when Voynitzky (the Uncle Vanya of the title), drunk on vodka, drops his emotional shield of sarcasm and flippant humour, and speaks softly, from the heart, of his love for Yelena. His bravado vanishes and his cadence changes in a way that is natural, familiar and unstereotyped. Less sensitive direction could have made had Vanya a regular loud drunk, stumbling and slurring words, but instead the vodka leaves him disarmed.

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