Reviews

The Wild Women of Comedy

Ciel Stowe, Sarah Levett, Amanda Gray and Bev Killick. Paddington RSL NSW, 14-15 October 2011, then on national tour

Holding the Man

By Tommy Murphy, from Tim Conigrave's memoir. State Theatre Company of South Australia. Dunstan Playhouse. 21 Oct to 13 Nov, 2011

Tommy Murphy’s Holding the Man adaptation has all the elements of great theatre: a contemporary issue, a powerful message and an ensemble.

In 1995, shortly after he died, Timothy Conigrave’s memoir was published, telling of his lifelong love with high school football captain, John Caleo.

Conigrave wrote like a playwright: lots of dialogue making it easy to read and the story itself was powerful. Those elements combined to make it a bestseller and a classic Australian love story – people dubbed it gay Mills & Boon.

The Love of the Nightingale

By Richard Mills. Libretto by Timberlake Wertenbaker. Opera Australia. Conductor: Richard Mills. Director: Tama Matheson. Set and Projection Designer: Dan Potra. Original Costume Designer: Kate Hawley. Lighting Designer: Nigel Levings. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House NSW. 21 October – 1 November 2011.

The Gods must be crazy!

First performed in Perth in 2007, this newish Australian opera opened in Sydney on October 21st 2011.

The synopsis by composer Richard Mills reads: The Love of the Nightingale is a myth about men and women, and explores the condition and experience of women in an oppressive patriarchy. Through a crucible of suffering the mythological moment of metamorphosis is achieved, and the play finds its moral resolution in the freedom of uninhibited inquiry. Not a lite night. But does Nightingale deliver on this promise?

A Stranger in Town.

Written by Christine Croyden. Directed and designed by Alice Bishop. Inspired by the original musical diary of Otto Lampel. Original score and musical direction by Matt Lotherington. Lighting design by Richard Vabre. With Amanda LaBonte, Sophie Lampel, Jamie McDonald and Drew Tingwell. Presented by Essential Theatre. fortyfive downstairs, Melbourne. 27 October to 13 November, 2011.

Precious memories are at play in this eloquent and involving memory play – imaginatively, impeccably, lovingly, and often quite beautifully, delivered to the stage by Ms Bishop and performed by a uniformly excellent cast, who handle their challenging multiple roles with pure theatrical instinct and immense skill.

A New Brain

Music and lyrics by William Finn, with a book by Finn and James Lapine. Squabbalogic. Sidetrack Theatre. October 26 to November 12, 2011.

Want to be thoroughly entertained and moved by a well-produced, off-beat, quirky little musical?

A New Brain is just the thing!

Who writes a vaudeville-styled, through-sung musical about a songwriter suffering from arteriovenous malformation (a potentially fatal brain disorder) and the subsequent life-threatening surgery and coma, making it entertaining to boot?

The songwriter who lived through it!

Julius Caesar

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare Company. Director: Peter Evans. Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. October 25 to November 26, 2011.

For four months this trimmed down and modernised adaptation of Julius Caesar has toured regional and metropolitan Australia,  to land at the Sydney Opera House with the cast now as sharp as the daggers  they use for the assassination.

Dressed in business suits, with swift movement across the stage, commentary on microphones, a bare set (save for one Roman column) and powder instead of blood, this production takes a little getting used to.

Often I Find That I Am Naked

By Fiona Sprott. A Critical Stages and Jo&Co Production. Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane. 27-29 October, 2011.

Sex sells? You betcha!

This revue on a theme of sexual contacts and interaction in the 21stCentury opened its short Brisbane season last night to a house full of enthusiasts. Judging by the laughs, most recognised the awkward moments and embarrassing situations. They’d been there.

The show is slick, polished, and entertaining with James Dobinson at the piano and keyboards providing music, songs and ‘alcohol’ to accompany the action.

No Way to Treat a Lady

Book, music and lyrics by Douglas J. Cohen. Based on the novel by William Goldman. Stephen Colyer, Director; Craig Renshaw, Musical Director; Gavin Swift, Lighting Designer; and David Fleischer, Set & Costume Designer. Darlinghurst Theatre. October 13 – November 13, 2011.

It’s a musical comedy about a serial killer who murders middle-aged women bearing a striking resemblance to his deceased mother – emphasized by the fact that one actress plays the spectre matriach, an ex-Broadway diva from beyond the grave, and all the victims.

Carmen

By Georges Bizet. Melbourne Opera Company. Director: Hugh Halliday. Musical Director: Greg Hocking. Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. Oct 22 – Nov 12, 2011.

Though there was much to admire in Melbourne Opera’s production of Carmen I came away feeling a little disappointed. Part of this due to was bad luck. Kerry Gill replacing an ailing Lee Abrahmsen as Micaela  did very well.

Perhaps Jason Wasley as Don Jose didn’t have this option. Obviously struggling, he produced some thrilling top notes when required, but seemed to be saving his voice in the lower register, and because of this, it and his performance lacked passion.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

By Larry L. King and Peter Masterson and Carol Hall. Catchment Players (Vic). Director: Anne Dewar. Choreographer: Di Crough. Musical Director: Nathan Firmin. October 21 – 29, 2011.

Catchment Players’ Spring production, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, is the hit Broadway musical based on the true story of legendary Texan whorehouse, the Chicken Ranch, that operated from the 1840s until 1973, when crusading media do-gooder and his conservative followers ‘exposed’ the Chicken Ranch, forcing its closure.

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