Reviews

Picnic at Hanging Rock

By Tom Wright, from the novel by Joan Lindsay. Black Swan State Theatre Company, with Malthouse Theatre. Directed by Matthew Lutton. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, WA. April 1 – 17, 2016

Picnic at Hanging Rock is an interesting, modern interpretation of the Joan Lindsay novel, presented on a stark stage This co-production of Black Swan State Theatre Company, with Malthouse Theatre, uses five actors, all of whom play multiple roles.

Playhouse Creatures

By April De Angelis. Directed by Jordan Best. Produced by Pigeonhole Theatre. Q Theatre, Queanbeyan. March 31 – April 9, 2016

Playhouse Creatures makes wonderful debut by Canberra’s new theatre company, Pigeonhole Theatre.

Cirque Adrenaline

Directed by Neil Allan Dorward. Arts Centre Melbourne. April 1 – 10, 2016

For a century they were called “Speciality” or “Spesh” acts. They appeared not just in circuses and side-shows but also on stage in Vaudeville/Variety shows. They were the mainstay of breaking up the more traditional or high profile acts - after all, who can compete with a Pop Star or dancing elephants? Then, in the late 20th century, Cirque du Soleil changed the game and made the “Spesh Act” into an Art Form, and everybody else followed.

Ariadne Auf Naxos

By Richard Strauss. CitiOpera. Director: Stella Axarlis AM. Musical Director: Dr David Kram. Hawthorn Arts Centre. April 2 – 10, 2016.

My previous experience of Ariadne Auf Naxos was the Victorian Opera production in 2009, which was very impressive. It is not the sort of opera one would expect from a semi-professional company like CitiOpera.

However, they did a surprisingly creditable job.

A lot of this was due to the conducting of David Kram, who coaxed a full Straussian sound from the small orchestra. There was a lovely sweep to the music, but the singers were still able to be heard. Partly this was to do with the quality of the performers.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Ballet by Liam Scarlett. Based on the play by William Shakespeare. Music: Felix Mendelssohn. Arrangements & Additional Orchestration: Nigel Gaynor. Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Conductor: Nigel Gaynor. Queensland Ballet & Royal New Zealand Ballet Co-Production @ Playhouse, QPAC. 1-16 April 2016

Everyone loves a happy ending and A Midsummer Night’s Dream gives us not one but three. Maybe that’s the reason Shakespeare’s comedy has been so popular for over 400 years. The combination of fairies, rustics and lovers has been irresistible to choreographers for decades and Liam Scarlett’s new vision of their escapades has all of the magic of a master conjurer.

Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Directed by Peter Evans. Designer Anna Cordingly. Playhouse, Canberra Theatre, 1-9 April 2016

Heads and maidenheads allude to murder and rape. That is made clear by the testosterone-fueled speech given a bearded Capulet servant, setting the tone for the play from the outset.  Peter Evans’ take eschews simpering romance, restoring Romeo and Juliet to its violent and lustful essence. The servant is a composite of Shakespeare’s characters Sampson and Gregory, and what was dialogue between two becomes a spoken inner monologue full of sex, rage and brittle bravado. The speech is just one example of the sheer genius of the editing.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

By Christopher Hampton, based on the 1782 novel by Choderlos de Laclos. National Theatre Live at Donmar Warehouse. Nova Cinema, Carlton (VIC) and other cinemas nationally from 9 April, 2016

The source material for this enduring play is Choderlos de Laclos’ novel, Les Liaisons Dangerous, first published in 1782.  It is a tale of deceit, betrayal, hypocrisy and sex games among the French aristocracy.  Although frequently banned, the novel has been in print ever since, probably because the world and people don’t change that much – and the baroque trappings, the lace and the stays, and the amorality of these 18th century aristos all enable us to contemplate these vices with some objectivity.  And it has an implicit feminist argu

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Music by Richard Rodgers. Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Northern Light Theatre Company. Shedley Theatre. Director: Lauren Scarfe. Musical Director: Helen Loveday. Choreographer: Thomas Phillips. April 1-April 16, 2016.

She's been the belle of the ball for so many years, the archetypal underdog through innumerable versions of her story...Can Cinders still manage to entertain us after all this time? You bet she can.

Minefields & Miniskirts

By Terrence O’Connell. Javeenbah Theatre, Gold Coast. Directed by Gaye Gay. Apr 1 – 16, 2016.

Adapted from the original book of Siobhan McHugh, Minefields & Miniskirts represents the reminiscences and experiences of the Vietnam War of five different women from various walks of life.

Originally produced and directed by Terrence O’Connell in 2004, it gives us a look inside these women – retelling real stories about real people who crossed their paths in Vietnam during the conflict.

King Charles III

By Mike Bartlett. Almeida Theatre Production. Sydney Theatre Company. Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay. Mar 31 – Apr 30, 2016

He thought the day would never come. At last Charles III has ascended to the throne and we meet his ever so familiar family mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II. There was no need to waste time introducing most of the characters. We know Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry already. Each eliciting a laugh when we recognised them.

The playwright could cut to the chase of an epic constitutional crisis making November 11, 1975 look civilised.

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