Reviews

Uncle Vanya

By Anton Chekhov. Adapted by Andrew Upton. Sydney Theatre Company. Sydney Theatre. Director: Tamas Ascher. Designer: Zsolt Khell. November 13, 2010 – January 1, 2011

Characters trapped in their terminally dull lives skull vodka shots with abandon in theatre that is anything but dull, as a cast of Australia’s finest actors rampage deliciously through Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.

Uncle Vanya is my favourite play, stretching, as it does, seamlessly across the boundary between drama and comedy, and the fine membrane between surface wit and depressive pain.

Spamalot

By Eric Idle and John Du Prez. Playlovers Inc. Director: Kimberley Shaw. Choreographer: Kristen Twynam-Perkins. Musical Director: David Hardie. Hackett Hall, Floreat (WA) November 5 – 26, 2010

Godspell

By Stephen Schwartz. Malanda Theatre Company. Director: Gill Harrington and Erin Barrett. Choreographer: Felicity Stoetzel. November 6 – 14, 2010.

Brilliant!  What a night of entertainment. This would have to be the best musical produced by the Malanda Theatre Company in a long time. It’s that good it wouldn’t look out of place in an off-Broadway production. The young cast gave it everything, including powerful singing and fast-paced choreography. Full credit must go to directors Gill Harrington, Erin Barrett and choreographer Felicity Stoetzel for their vision, hard work and ability to get the best out of a highly talented cast.

Grimm Tales

Adapted by Carol Ann Duffy, dramatised by Tim Supple. Queensland Theatre Company. November 8 – December 11, 2010

This is the most joy-filled, exuberant show I have seen all year.

Folk tale characters greet you warmly as you enter the theatre; one glance at the set transports you to fantasy land.

Director Michael Futcher and his merry band of players: Liz Buchanan, Dan Crestani, Eugene Gilfedder, Emma Pursey, Lucas Stibbard, Scott Witt, and Melanie Zanetti breathe life into eight of Grimms’ tales in their nineteenth century versions.

Get It Into Ya! - Tom Gleeson

Sydney Comedy Store - Entertainment Quarter (NSW). Nov 10 – 21.

In what seems like an awfully quick one hour. Tom Gleeson takes us on a rollicking ride of personal stories - everything from moving into a former morgue in Romsey, Victoria, to stories about the village oddball who knocks on people’s doors late at night announcing “Where’s Jeff?” (you have to see the show to ‘get it’). Gleeson has us wrapped around his animated little finger from the word go.

Annie

By Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. MLOC Productions. Director: Lucy Nicolson. Musical Director: Geoff Earle. Choreographer: Leah Osburn. November 4 – 13.

If it wasn’t for the kids Annie would not survive. This is one of the few musicals with a large cast of kids, and they get all the good songs. The adults have songs which are difficult to pull off and some scenes are not well written.

Angela’s Kitchen

By Paul Capsis and Hilary Bell. Griffin Theatre Company. Director: Julian Meyrick. Designer: Louise McCarthy. Composer / Sound Designer: Alister Spence. SBW Stables Theatre (NSW). Nov 10 – Dec 18.

Delightful evenings like Angela’s Kitchen are a reminder of just how powerful, engaging and charming theatre at its simplest storytelling levels can be.

The Grenade

By Tony McNamara. Sydney Theatre Company / MTC Production. Director: Peter Evans. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Nov 4 – Dec 12.

Lots of very unlikely things seem to happen to Busby McTavish.

The character  played by Garry McDonald finds a grenade in his living room, without any explanation as to how it got there, then even though there are children in the house decides to keep it in his lounge room.

His wife Sally, a former nun, is co-writing a trashy novel with a retired special commando – called Randy Savage – who has 12 positions of the karma sutra tattooed onto his muscled torso.

True West by Sam Shepard.

Director: Philip Seymour Hoffman. Set Designer: Richard Roberts. Costume designer: Alice Babidge. Sydney Theatre Company. Wharf 1 Sydney. Nov 2-Dec 18, 2010.

Violence begins at home, as does the STC’s production of Sam Shepard’s True West. This modern fable of conflict between brothers updates the Cain and Abel tale and sets it in the kitsch kitchen of a bungalow in the sprawling suburbs of Los Angeles in 1980. Brenan Cowell plays Austin (Abel), a budding screenwriter, who has left his family behind in Oregon to stay at his mother’s house whilst she is away in Alaska. His older brother Lee (Cain), played to the hilt by Wayne Blair, drops by and visits havoc upon the lives of others.

My Name is Rachel Corrie

Edited by Katherine Viner and Alan Rickman from the writings of Rachel Corrie. fortyfivedownstairs (Vic) Nov 3 to 14.

My Name is Rachel Corrieis a play based on the diaries and e-mails of Rachel Corrie, a young woman with a passion for the Palestinian cause in the Gaza Strip, that led to her violent death whilst protesting. To create the play Katherine Viner and Alan Rickman edited Rachel’s writing, which in places contains sharp enigmatic poetic imagery and sensitive insights.  It was first produced at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2005.   

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