Reviews

Bookworms

By Bernard Farrell. Centenary Theatre Group (Qld). 6 – 27 September 2014.

This sterling piece of Irish theatre, imagined by Bernard Farrell, is an inspired choice for this company: an Australian premiere, its style appeals to the loyal patrons, CTG attracts splendid acting and directing personnel, so we expect top entertainment. That’s just what they gave us!

Aida

Music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang. UMMTA (Vic). Director: Grace Agnew. Musical Director: Anthony Cardamone. Choreographer: Ammalee Meisels. Union Theatre, University of Melbourne. September 19 - 27, 2014

I am very familiar with the opera Aida and aware that Elton John had written a musical on the same subject, so was interested to finally catch a production. And what a production it was!

Though we have the same characters and same basic story, it is quite a different take, starting before the opera does, so we see Aida being captured, and there are a number of sub-plots which do not appear in the opera. It worked very well, and there was a lovely twist at the end which eased the tragic ending.

The Dream

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Peter Evans. Bell Shakespeare. Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. Sept 18th – Oct 4th, 2014.

If every primary school-aged child were to see this production, we would have a generation of Shakespeare fans for all time, so wondrously witty and innovative is it. Bottom says, in Shakespeare’s words, “I have had a most rare vision.” Well so has Director Peter Evans; and those of us who only came to love The Bard in adulthood can only mourn the fact that Bell Shakespeare wasn’t around to inspire us in childhood.

Hook Up

Music, Lyrics and book by Nick Hedger and Ben Nicholson. With Michelle Brasier. Directed by Ben Nicholson. Melbourne Fringe Festival. The Lithuanian Club Ballroom. 19-21 and 23-26 September, 2014.

There are some unfathomables in the Universe….

How do clouds know how to make themselves into balloon animals?

How many stars are there altogether in the firmament (and can I have one?)?

How can two 23 year olds – Nick Hedger and Ben Nicholson – be so insanely talented in Musical Theatre?

Four Dogs and A Bone

By John Patrick Shanley. Brief Candle Productions. Directed by Kate Gaul. Sydney Fringe. Old Fitzroy Theatre (NSW). September 16 – 27, 2014.

John Patrick Shanley makes no mistakes in this witty one act satire of the movie business. Though it is biting and cruelly critical it is also very funny – and that’s probably why it ran for 230 performances when it premiered in New York in 1993.

The ‘four dogs’, actors Brenda and Collette, producer Bradley and first-time screenplay writer, Victor scheme and fight over the ‘bone’ that is the movie. Brenda and Collette both want to star. Bradley wants to cut expenses. All three want to convince Victor to cut scenes and re-write the script.

The Last Continent

By Terry Pratchett. Directed by Pamela Munt. The Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide. September 19-October 4, 2014

Since its formation in 1999, Adelaide’s Unseen Theatre Company has staged 25 plays based on the work of beloved fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett. Having attained something of a cult following in the process, Unseen asked their regular patrons to vote on which of their back catalogue was worthy of an encore performance.

Motherf**ker

Created by Jane Miller & Beng Oh; text by Jane Miller adapted from Sophocles, Seneca and two Ted Hughes poems. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton (VIC). 17 – 28 September 2014

It asks a lot of an audience to suspend their disbelief so far as to imagine the imperial court of ancient Thebes played on a small and rickety, creaking platform, mounted on scaffolding and backed by black plastic drapes that don’t quite close.  I couldn’t suspend mine.  The creaky platform is unfortunately just one of the many artistic misjudgments in this version of the Oedipus story. 

Point and Shoot

Holland Street Productions. La Boite Studio, Kelvin Grove; 17-20 September 2014

Brisbane Festival and the QUT Creative Industries have set up Theatre Republic, a selection of venues with a surreal 'a-tyr-ed' outdoor bar (with real tyres), to showcase a multitude of cutting edge displays of theatre, cabaret, live-art, comedy and even a musical, Point and Shoot.

Reception the Musical

Performer: Bethany Simons. Accompanist: Peter de Jager. Choreographer: Joseph Simons. The Butterfly Club, Melbourne. 17 – 22 September, 2014

Reception the Musical sounded like it could be fun, and it was! Based on Bethany’s own experience as a receptionist, this was obviously a job she enjoyed and this came across.

It was quite a tour de force to sustain the character for a full hour and Bethany managed that with ease and never wore out her welcome. Sometime she would take on the persona of the person she was speaking to, either directly or on the phone, and she displayed a superb talent for mimicry.

Baroness Bianka's Bloodsongs

Written and performed by Joanna Weinberg. Hayes Theatre Co. Sundays September 14 – 28, 2014.

Joanna Weinberg writes such clever songs that it leaves you wanting to press rewind and re-listen to the lyrics to drink them in. Her latest musical is a wicked one woman cabaret about a spooky character with a fetish for blood.

Baroness Bianka sniffs the audience members, lustily trying to guess what their blood types are.

Just as a passionate wine expert (red of course ) could swish around the drink and name the brand, she too has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the make-up of man-made claret.

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