Reviews

The Gruffalo’s Child

Adapted by Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchel from the children’s book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Score by Jon Fiber, Andy Shaw and Olivia Jacobs. Christine Dunstan Productions and Tall Stories. Seymour Centre, Sydney. April 8 – 21, 2011.

This adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s sequel to The Gruffalo brings the original characters back to the stage with the addition of the curious, daring and very engaging, Gruffalo’s child. Played by Chandel Brandmarti, this brave little offspring of the Gruffalo is vibrant and bouncy, wide-eyed  and expressive, capturing the young audience and keeping it entranced, from the moment she slips off her sleeping father’s knee to find The Big Bad Mouse until she races back into his embrace after her adventures.

Dein Perry's Tap Dogs.

15th Anniversary Season. Directed and Designed by Nigel Triffitt. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Five week season from January 5, 2011.

The last time I saw the Tap Dogs my son tapped away from inside the womb...  or so my wife reliably informs me.

So it was appropriate that, now aged 12, he accompany me to the company's latest production which debuted in Sydney.

It was tough to convince him to come, as sport not the arts, dominates his psyche.

But very soon he thanked me for dragging him along, as this show was as tough and physical as any titanic sporting contest.

Wish I'd Said That

Written and Performed by Henri Szeps. Ensemble Theatre. Until January 29, 2011.

Henri Szeps would make a fabulous dinner party guest.

Erudite, witty, bright as a button with a sharp memory, you could imagine him holding court into the wee hours. For that reason alone Wish I'd Said That is a thoroughly enjoyable night of theatre.

He covers territory and musings ranging from an excerpt of King Lear's speech to his three daughters, pearls of wisdom about science, sprinkled with jokes including my favourite, about a Jewish man with a stutter auditioning for a job as a newsreader.

The Diary of a Madman

By Nikolai Gogol, adapted by David Holman, with Neil Armfield and Geoffrey Rush. Belvoir (NSW). Director: Neil Armfield. Composer: Alan John. Designer: Catherine Martin. Lighting Design: Mark Shelton. Sound Design: Paul Charlier. December 8, 2010 to February 6, 2011.

Ah, the prestige of sharpening the boss’s quills! This is the proud career pinnacle of Poprishchin, a lowly clerk in the Russian civil service, much to the envy, real or imagined, of his colleagues.

Surely enough to send anyone around the twist, but when Geoffrey Rush interprets Gogol’s Madman, madness equals virtuoso theatrical pyrotechnics.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Brisbane Arts Theatre (Qld). Nov 27 – Dec 18, 2010

I was looking forward to this premiere, a musical reworking of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. With book by Tony Millett and Sally Daly, music and lyrics by Shane and Sally Daly, it is a big cast, glamorous extravaganza aimed mainly at adults. (In parallel BAT is presenting matinee seasons of The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus for families).

Nine

By Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit. Director: Paul Treasure. Roleystone Theatre, WA. Nov 19 – Dec 4.

Many, many years after its appearance elsewhere, the musical Nine finally had its WA Premiere, with this fine version directed by Paul Treasure.

Solid musical direction by Sarah Cosstick leading a small live band and well-executed choreography by Emma David, backed a well selected and talented cast.

The single set, designed by Stephen Carr, was striking and beautifully constructed, and its multiple levels were well used.

Looking Through a Glass Onion

John Lennon In Word and Music. John Waters and Stewart D’Arrietta. Playhouse – Sydney Opera House. Nov 30 – Dec 12, 2010

A Day in the Life, Norwegian Wood, Come Together, Revolution, Strawberry Fields, Starting Over, Jealous Guy and Imagine are some of the greats featured in John Waters’ production of John Lennon in Word and Music Looking Through A Glass Onion. Waters’ voice sounds a lot like Lennon and in some songs, particularly ballads, you could close your eyes and think you’re hearing the man himself.

Spring Awakening

By Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, based on the play by Frank Wedekind. The Little Theatre, Adelaide University (SA). Dec 2 to 11, 2010.

In their theatre debut, Gin and Vodka Productions have tackled a challenging piece with the Broadway Musical adaptation of controversial 1891 German play Spring Awakening. Luckily, both company and cast are up to task 

Krash Test Kulture

La Mama Courthouse (VIC). Komissar Kabaret & Canto Coro. December 2 – 19, 2010

“MULTIMEDIA… KABARET… CHOIR… MULTICULTURAL ENSEMBLE… NEW CUTTING-EDGED INTERKULTURAL KABAOPERA”

And Then There Were None

By Agatha Christie. Canberra Repertory. Director: Duncan Ley. Theatre 3, Acton. 26 November to 11 December 2010

Who'd have thought that a murder mystery could be such fun!

Agatha Christie's setup has seven guests and three newly hired hands, apparently none knowing their host, arrive on an isolated island for a weekend as weather sets in.  The relaxed atmosphere is rather ruined when the host, via a recording, announces their past crimes.

And then the deaths begin. And the murderer is one of the party.

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