Reviews

The Lighthouse Girl

By Hellie Turner. A Rio Tinto Black Swan co-commission, in association with Albany Entertainment Centre. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Directed by Stuart Halusz. Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia. 28 Apr - 14 May, 2017

Black Swan State Theatre Company's world premiere of The Lighthouse Girl by Hellie Turner is adapted from the Dianne Wolfer books Lighthouse Girl and Light Horse Boy, and is a beautiful telling of a lovely, if sad, Australian First World War story.

Set on a single set, an inspired design by Lawrie Cullen Tait - a rocky outcrop that is predominantly the barren Breaksea Island - but with the assistance of lighting designed by Joe Lui and sound by Brett Smith, it becomes the lighthouse cottage, rural Victoria, Egypt and Anzac Cove.

Design for Living

By Noël Coward. Directed by Barry Park. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth, WA. April 21 - May 6, 2017

This once controversial, and even banned, play by Noël Coward, is a delightful time capsule of upper class life in the 1930s. Still funny and cleverly penned, it is playing to capacity audiences at the Old Mill Theatre.

Werther

By Massenet. Blanke Knochen Opera. Director: Kate Millett. Musical Director: James Penn. Abbotsford Masonic Hall. April 26 – May 7, 2017.

There are a number of opera companies around Melbourne. The larger ones do more lavish productions, while the smaller ones need to be innovative to compete. This Klanke Knochen Opera certainly do.

This is Eden

Written and performed by Emily Goddard. Directed by Susie Dee. fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 27 April – 7 May 2017.

In discussing her collaboration with Goddard, Dee explains that, “From the outset, neither of us wanted to create a ‘bonnet drama’.” This beautifully and thoughtfully presented play is in no danger of appearing superficial in its depiction of the dark side of Australia’s colonial past.

The story is based on a chance discovery of Goddard’s previously unknown convict ancestor and the hardships she endured during her seven-year sentence in the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart Town during the 1830s-1840s.

Two Weddings, One Bride

By Robert Andrew Greene. Music by Strauss, Offenbach, Lehar, Kalman and Stolz  Opera Australia. Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. April 27 – October 22, 2017

With the Sydney Opera House starting long renovations on its opera theatre, Opera Australia now moves to the smaller playhouse with a modest experiment to match.

Two Weddings, One Bride is a hit collage of European operetta from more than a century ago, a juke-box of ancient show tunes but with new lyrics and the bedding of a new story by operetta expert, Robert Andrew Greene. 

With no orchestra, it’s all up to Greene on grand as music director with just violinist Yuhki Mayne. 

Mr Burns

By Anne Washburn. State Theatre Company of S.A. and Belvoir. Space Theatre. April 22nd – May 13th, 2017.

Yes, it is THAT Mr Burns!

For the uninitiated, Mr Burns is a character in the long running animated series The Simpsons. Written by Anne Washburn, and presented by State Theatre Company and Belvoir, Mr Burns entertains perfectly for those with no Simpsons knowledge and adds a whole new layer for the majority who do.

Dracula

Shake & Stir Theatre Co. Directed by Michael Futcher. The Playhouse, Canberra. 26–29 June 2017, and touring nationally until 20 September 2017

Shake & Stir's production of Dracula, an adaptation by cast members Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij that won it two Matilda awards in 2016, is touring for the majority of the year, including an unfortunately short season in Canberra.

 

Once in Royal David's City

By Michael Gow. Queensland Theatre. Directed by Sam Strong. Playhouse, QPAC Brisbane. 22 April - 14 May, 2017

There was in an intriguing blend of comedy and pathos last night at the Playhouse with central character Will Drummond, a director and exponent of Brechtian theory, introducing us to that difficult and emotional time we can experience with the loss of a loved one.

M. Butterfly

By David Henry Hwang. St Jude’s Players. St Jude’s Hall. April 27-May 6, 2017

Due to the company’s name and its church hall venue, some people may wrongly believe that St Jude’s Players is aligned to the church. They may also therefore think it unlikely the company would risk producing plays with content that may shock, such as nudity or sexually explicit dialogue. The company’s current production of David Henry Hwang’s Tony Award-winning M. Butterfly dispels all such misapprehension; St. Jude’s has demonstrated that, like all fine and independent theatre companies, they will never shy away from a good script.

Forbidden Broadway: Greatest Hits

By Gerard Alessandrini. Playback Productions. Director: Monica Cioccia. Musical Director: Minna Ikonen. Kindred Studios, Yarraville (Vic). April 27 – 29, 2017.

Forbidden Broadway is a cabaret show which pokes fun at the Broadway genre by changing the words of well-known numbers. I fondly remember a professional production a couple of decades ago and haven’t caught another one since.

So I was really looking forward to this production, and I wasn’t disappointed. Though not at the standard of the professionals I’d seen previously, there was an enthusiasm and sense of fun that was contagious.

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