Reviews

Brand Spanking New

Various Writers. New Theatre, Newtown (NSW). Program 1 - October 27 – 30. Program 2 – November 3 to 6.

What an absolute thrill to see so much new Australian writing getting a life on stage in one evening.

And you can get that thrill twice - this week and next - in Newtown, Sydney.

At New Theatre, over the space of two weeks, and two separate programs, seventeen short Australian plays will receive a quality airing in New’s third annual showcase.

While the scripts vary in quality, with some feeling like works in progress, though the best are excellent.

Three Sisters

By Anton Chekhov, translated by Lawrence Senelick and David Mamet. Cry Havoc. ATYP Studio, The Wharf (NSW). Oct 14 – Nov 6.

It’s fresh, it’s funny and it’s modern. Very modern, to the point of having an ipod and an iphone present. This is Chekhov for our times, for the younger generation coming through, learning about the work of the masters. This production has all the modern colloquialisms, the expressions and social interactionism of now.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Bell Shakespeare.Directed by Lee Lewis. Playhouse, Canberra Theatre, Oct 12 - 23. Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, Oct 26 - Nov 27.

This most recent production of Twelfth Night by the Bell Shakespeare Company is in stark contrast to the last one by the same company that I remember seeing (oh, how many?) years ago. The old production starring John Bell as Malvolio, with discontent and lugubrious expression after being caught with yellow cross garters is but one of the highlights from another age.

When the Rain Stops Falling

By Andrew Bovell. Brink Production with QTC. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane. Oct 20 to Nov 6. Director: Chris Drummond.

Blackbird

Space Theatre. Flying Penguin Productions (SA). 21 to 30 Oct

Written by David Harrower and produced by Flying Penguin productions in association with the Adelaide Festival Centre’s InSPACE program, Blackbird is the revisited tale of an illicit relationship between Ray and Una. Set 16 years after the event, in a staff room at Ray’s place of employment, Una comes to confront him. Now an adult she has some unanswered questions, and despite the fact he has now changed his name to Peter, and moved on with his life, she has tracked him down via a photo she saw in a magazine.

Ben Hur - The Stadium Spectacular

Stadium Australia, Sydney. Directed and co-authored by Robert Hossein. Co-Authored by Alain Decaux.

Imagine spending $300 on a ticket to a big show and most of the dialogue is pre-recorded and way out of synch with the moving lips of the actors.

This was the reality for many in the crowd at Stadium Australia in a performance that I think should have been re-named Maximus Sillius.

This grand arena production of the famous movie and fable was slow and far too thin on the wow factor.

I understand the French Director had great difficulty with the language barrier, explaining what he wanted to cast, and it showed.

Wishful Drinking

Created and performed by Carrie Fisher. State Theatre, Sydney October 20 & 21, then touring nationally.

For anyone else, a stubbornly errant microphone might have taken some of the gloss of the performance. But Carrie Fisher responded to the calls of ‘We can’t hear you,’ in similar laconic style to all the questions she openly invited from the audience.

The Glass Menagerie

By Tennessee Williams. Genesian Theatre (NSW). Director / Designer / Composer: Timothy M Carter. October 16 – November 13.

Universal themes, including family, desertion, broken dreams, dealing (or not) with reality and the impact of our decisions on others, are at the heart of Tennessee Williams’ first great dramatic success, The Glass Menagerie, an autobiographically inspired memory play.

A slim plot provides the hook on which to hang an intense, complex psychological drama.

Aida

Music: Guiseppi Verdi. Libretto: Antonio Ghislanzoni. Opera Queensland. Director: Shane Placentino based on the original by Graeme Murphy. Conductor: Peter Robinson. Set & Costume Design: Roger Kirk. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane, Oct 16 – 30, 2010

Bingo: The Winning Musical

By Michael Heitzmann, Ilene Reid and David Holcenberg Pantseat Productions, at Theatre on Brunker, Newcastle (NSW). September 23 to October 2

The United States writers of Bingo offered Pantseat Productions the musical’s Australian premiere rights after seeing YouTube clips of songs from another offbeat show the Newcastle group staged last year. Pantseat’s delightful production certainly justified the faith shown in them. The musical focuses on the experiences at a weekly bingo tournament of three women who are so passionate about the game that they brave driving through a hurricane to get there.

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