Reviews

Escaped Alone

By Caryl Churchill. Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre, East St Kilda. 28 May to 30 June 2019

Just under a sunny, ‘normal’ surface lurk horrors large and small, past, present and future.  Three middle-aged women, seemingly old friends and comfortable together, have afternoon tea in a sunny back garden.  A fourth woman is passing and sees them through a hole in the fence.  They ask her to join them.  The three are identified by their first names – Lena (Marta Kaczmarek), Sally (Caroline Lee) and Vi (Margaret Mills) – but the newcomer is Mrs Jarrett (Julie Forsyth) and she never quite fits in or keeps up… The play begins, however, wit

X-Stacy

By Margery Forde. Directed by Elodie Boal. Presented by Moreton Bay Theatre Company (Qld). Neverland Theatre. 24 May – 2 June 2019.

Solid direction shows in every aspect of a play. It’s obvious that director Elodie Boal has a well-formulated vision for this production of X-Stacy and she’s been able to impart it clearly to the cast and crew. Boal creates an immersive environment, using the entire space as her stage, including placing a ‘bouncer’ on the front door and giving everyone glow sticks as they enter.

Them

By Samah Sabawi. Directed by Bagryana Popov. La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton. May 29 – June 9, 2019.

Samah Sabawi employs humour and irony to tackle a highly sensitive topic and effectively infiltrates the essential humanity of the story. The play takes place in a war-stricken state somewhere in the Middle-East and portrays the lives of the local people who are forced to confront life and death decisions on a daily basis.

Pretence

By Hayley Lawson-Smith. Dramatic Pause Theatre. The Butterfly Club, Melbourne. June 3 – 8, 2019.

Pretence is a satirical one-act comedy that explores the dynamics between two actors, at loggerheads over the leading role in an amateur theatre production. The multi-award winning play, written and performed by Hayley Lawson-Smith and presented by Dramatic Pause Theatre, is currently playing at the Butterfly Club.

The Blazing Son

By Lynn Preston. An Every Old Sock Meets an Old Shoe & Tilted Projects Production. La Mama Explorations. The Burrow, Fitzroy. 29 – 31 May 2019

Lynn Preston has dug deep and gone to dark places in the long gestation of her play.  Working for a time with the very experienced Sue Ingleton, she has made a text that is dense and allusive, filled with vivid images, and strongly suggestive while avoiding banal specifics.  It is remarkable how much story and emotion she packs into her sixty or seventy minutes.  This is poetic non-naturalistic theatre realised with intense performances and skilled, risk-taking direction by Dirk Hoult, his sound designer Gemma Notarpietro and intricate lighting from Jason Crick.

The Spooky Men’s Chorale

Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre. June 1, 2019

The Spooky Men’s Chorale returned to Sydney to a full house at the Everest Theatre at the Seymour Centre last night. After two more performances this month – Blackheath on 16th June, Melbourne Recital Centre on 20th June – they embark on another overseas tour to the UK and Germany. That might seem like some feat, but for The Spookies, it’s a matter of course.

Michael Jackson – The Concert Experience

‘Remember the Time’ Tour. Thebarton Theatre. June 1, 2019

It would have been easy for TJ Cappola to cancel his tour in light of recent allegations and turmoil surrounding Michael Jackson’s reputation. He didn’t, and I, and many adoring fans at Thebarton Theatre were very glad!

Bigg Developments

Book, Music & Lyrics: John Wikman. John Wikman Productions. Director: John Wikman. Choreographer: Ruth Gabriel. Wonargo Cultural Centre, Northgate, Qld, 31 May – 15 June 2019

Prolific community theatre composer/lyricist John Wikman’s new musical is set in the world of property development in the 80s. Bigg Developments are planning a world-class resort called Majestic Palms in the sleepy coastal town of Sunny Cove. All they need is council approval, which they eventually get but not before the whole project has been re-thought, re-branded, and become environmentally friendly.

Unrule

By Michelle Aitken, Alicia Osyka, Chelsea Gibson, Mani Mai Gomes, Rhiannon Petersen. Directed by Michelle Aitken. The Blue Room Studio, Northbridge, WA. May 28 - Jun 15, 2019

Unrule is an offbeat piece of collaborative theatre that looks at women’s bodies and health. An emotional roller-coaster of a show, it blends humour with angst, in a show that has some excellent messages and ideas.

The Sound of Music

Music by Richard Rodgers. Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Babirra Music Theatre (Vic). Director: Tyler Hess. Musical Director: Ben Moody. Choreographer: Kristy Griffin. May 31 – Jun 15, 2019

The Sound of Music is a failsafe show with lots of well-known songs and kids as well, and this Babirra production has much to recommend it.

Soprano Greta Wilkinson was a delightful, feisty Maria. Unfortunately they were using the original score written for contralto Mary Martin – both Julie Andrews and June Bronhill sang in higher keys – which did not show her lovely voice to best advantage.

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