Reviews

PYJAMAS IN PARADISE

By John Michael Howson, Peter Pinne and Ashley Irwin. Choreography and direction by Tony Bartuccio. Gold Coast Arts Centre (Qld). September 2 - 10, 2010.

This show sizzles. It burst onto the Gold Coast stage the way Bernie Elsey’s original Pyjama Parties splashed across 1960s media: youthful abandon, provocative with innuendo, energy, and sheer joy. The writers captured this mood and the period, and the players dragged us kicking and writhing into that era.

It’s a big cast: eighteen principals, show band of twelve, seven backing booth singers, and a host of stage extras.

God of Carnage

By Yasmina Reza. The Mount Players (Vic). Mountview Theatre, Macedon. Director: Natasha Boyd. Stage, Set and Costume Design: Alison Dudon. August 26 – September 17, 2011.

On a beautifully designed and constructed set, God of Carnage is a wild romp that is well handled in its first Victorian amateur production by Mount Players.

Circle Mirror Transformation

By Annie Baker. Melbourne Theatre Company. Director: Aidan Fennessy. Set and Costume Design: Marg Horwell. Cast: Deidre Rubenstein, Roger Oakley, Ben Grant, Kate Cole and Brigid Gallacher. Lawler Studio. 17 August – 17 September, 2011.

Appropriately simply staged, in a mirrored workshop space, this natty little play comprises sequential highlights of a series of Drama Workshops that resonate as extraordinarily realistic. The workshops are run by an earnest and well meaning facilitator Marty who is played to perfection by Deidre Rubenstein. Marty is apparently determined that her process will be productive and supportive, regardless of the lack of dynamism or stability engendered by an inadequate number of participants.

Moby Dick

Unpublished
By Jake Heggie. State Opera of South Australia. Festival Theatre - 27 August to 3 September, 2011.

The opening night of Jake Heggie’s opera Moby Dick was a triumph for the State Opera of South Australia and its new Artistic Director and CEO Timothy Sexton, who also takes the helm as conductor. In a truly spectacular production directed by Leonard Foglia and co-commissioned by no less than five opera companies, including SOSA, the tragic tale of Captain Ahab and his monomaniacal obsession with the white whale is brought vividly to life on stage at the Festival Theatre, through a remarkable combination of computer animation, ingenious set design and excellent casting.

Private Lives

By Noël Coward. Eltham Little Theatre (Vic). Director: Susan Rundle. Eltham Performing Arts Centre. August 25 – September 10, 2011.

Noël Coward’s 1930 comedy of manners tells the story of Amanda and Elyot, divorced and newly remarried to new partners, who find themselves honeymooning in adjacent hotel apartments, and on their neighbouring balconies.

One can imagine what this could lead to! And it does.

ELT’s opening set, adjoining Mediterranean hotel balconies, and the second, an apartment in Paris, captured the period particularly well. Exquisite costuming also evoked the era, with ladies’ hairdos giving that added touch.

Flowerchildren

World Premiere. By Peter Fitzpatrick (featuring the songs of The Mamas and The Papas). Musical arrangements Simon Stone. Magnormos. Theatre Works, St Kilda (Victoria). Director: Aaron Joyner. Musical Director: Sophie Thomas. 29 August -10 September, 2011.

Fans of the late 60s sensation The Mamas and The Papas will relish this historical tour of their turbulent off-stage lives, and the revival of a unique musical brand. Behind the backdrop to hits like California Dreamin’, Monday Monday, Words of Love, Creeque Alley and Dedicated to the One I Love, band members forged a self-destructive path of drugs, sex, deceit, alcoholism, over-eating, and a debilitating love-triangle.

The Hamlet Apocalypse

La Boite Indie and The Danger Ensemble. Roundhouse Theatre (Qld). 24 Aug – 10 Sept 2011.

I am not bound to please thee with my answers. William Shakespeare.

This quote from the show’s promotions informs my impressions here.

I cannot accept that theatre should be nihilist. What happened onstage reflected what we experienced in a 70s QTC actor/director training course that included Geoffrey Rush, Bille Brown and a nun in our class of 20 plus. Explorations were no-holds-barred but, while valuable to us participants, outcomes were not exposed to the public for their criticism.

Animal Farm

Shake & Stir’s adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 23 Aug – 2 Sept 2011.

For students and teachers of Animal Farm this production is solid gold. A general public audience may find it less engaging because of the connecting narrations.

Caps off to Nick Skubij, listed as ‘the adaptor,’ and the company improvisations that obviously informed rehearsals under director and dramaturg, multi-awarded Michael Futcher.

In singlets, black jeans and boots the cast managed to portray their characters clearly with sounds and simple typical animal actions.

Down Dangerous Passes Road

By Michel Marc Bouchard. Director: Sean Scanlon. Broken Mirror Studios, Brunswick. August 14 to 28, 2011.

Michel Marc Bouchard’s Down Dangerous Passes Road is such a beautifully written play, and so complex, that it begs to be seen more than once. Told in dreamy, poetic language, it centres on three estranged brothers who are forced to confront their past as they wait for rescue on a lonely stretch of road in Quebec.

The Book of Everything

By Richard Tulloch, adapted from the novel by Guus Kuijer. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide. 17 to 27 August, 2011.

The Book Of Everything is a tale of childhood naivety and discovery. Based on Dutch author Guus Kuijer’s 2004 children’s novel Het boek van alle dingen, it presents the narrative of Thomas Klopper, a precocious nine (almost ten) year old living in 1950’s Amsterdam.

The child of a repressed and religious family, he survives via his gloriously overactive imagination, insatiable curiosity and heart of gold.

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