Reviews

Working with Children

Concept, Text, Direction, Design & Performance by Nicola Gunn. An MTC NEON NEXT commission. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler, Melbourne. 30 August – 29 September, 2018

Nicola Gunn’s show is anti-theatre – which is not to say it is not theatrical or not entertaining.  It is both.  It just works against – or confounds – our expectations.  In fact, for an audience to be completely absorbed by one slight woman in jeans and a T-shirt alone on stage for an hour and fifteen minutes is quite an achievement.  But Working with Children employs other means, which involve the audience in making connections and guessing at meanings rather than those meanings being dramatized. 

In a Heartbeat

Devised & directed by Penelope Bartlau. Barking Spider Visual Theatre. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton, VIC. 4 – 9 September 2018

Seeing In a Heartbeat means going to a time warp tea party, with real tea, biscuits and cake, china and tablecloths.  There are six tables ringing the La Mama Courthouse stage and six young hostesses, if that’s the word, in 1940s or ‘50s skirts and blouses.  They’re like your Mum or your auntie sixty or seventy years ago.  They show us to the tables and welcome us with warm smiles, make small talk, and serve tea.  There’s also a wandering chappie, but his job is to help out and occasionally take part in some dancing.  (He looks a bit

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare. Pop-up Globe, The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, Sydney. Directed by Miles Gregory. 5 September – 4 November, 2018

Popped up in the heart of Moore Park’s Entertainment Quarter is a full-size replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and it’s really something. This 200-tonne, 3-storey conglomeration of scaffolding and seats faces a really big stage featuring brilliant, up-close contact with the actors. A large chunk of the audience, the ‘groundlings’, have to stand throughout the show but are regarded as part of the action, treated as mates one minute or spattered with pretend blood in another.

Blasted

By Sarah Kane. Malthouse Theatre – The Merlyn. 24 August to 16 September, 2018

Whether you love, hate or are completely overwhelmed by it, there is no doubting that Blasted is an astonishing production of an extraordinary play.  The text by once ‘enfant terrible’ of British Theatre Sarah Kane had its first production at the Royal Court Theatre in 1995.   

This particular rendition boasts a stunning set by Marg Horwell and is directed with exquisite finesse by Anne Marie Sarks

Pawn Again Christian

By Annie Lee. The Butterfly Club, Melbourne. September 3rd - 8th, 2018

There is a lot to be said about one’s early years and how indoctrination can play a big part in shaping one’s life. Annie Lee has us in awe of her mind-boggling journey in her first solo show, Pawn Again Christian.

Hallelujah sister and all praise to anyone who can escape the strict confines of a Jehovah’s Witness upbringing. Lee was raised in Launceston and spent part of her childhood living with her family in a lighthouse, only to dream of rooms with corners and having real friends who would not ostracize her for neighborhood door-knocking.

Dry River Run

Opera by Paul Dean. Director/Librettist: Rodney Hall. Queensland Conservatorium. Conductor/Chorus Master: Associate Professor Nicholas Cleobury. Assistant Director/Choreographer: Delia Silvan. Conservatorium Theatre, Southbank, Qld.1 Sep 2018

Paul Dean’s new Australian opera Dry River Run is a powerful and epic piece of theatre. Commissioned by the Queensland Conservatorium, the original work has a libretto by Rodney Hall and is a period folktale based around the outback milieu created by Henry Lawson’s poetry and Barbara Baynton’s short-stories. Set at the time of Federation, the tragic story revolves around the wife (Gladys) and daughter (Veronica) of a recently deceased popular pastoralist, his land-holdings Dry River Run, and his brother, the Reverend Callaway.

She Loves Me

Book by Joe Masteroff. Music by Jerry Bock. Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Hayes Theatre Co. August 24 – September 22, 2018

Musical Theatre tragics, myself included, long found the relative local obscurity of this Broadway musical from the creators of Fiddler on the Roof hard to grasp, having listened rapturously and repeatedly to the original stellar cast recording. After decades of ‘cult’ status, award winning Broadway and West End revivals have spread awareness of this 1960s charm show, now receiving an intimate professional production at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre.

Run For Your Wife

By Ray Cooney. Gold Coast Little Theatre. Director: Dorothy Henderson. Sep 1- 22, 2018.

Farce is described as a boisterous comedy and this production had it all: a laugh-a-minute script executed by a very talented cast under the direction of an equally talented lady!

Voices and Vines

Golding Wines Lobethal. Saturday September 1, 2018

Voices and Vines was a beautiful way to experience the beauty of both well-known and not so well known vocal pieces. Set in the lovely sandstone barn at Golding Winery, this was another example of how fortunate South Australia is with its wealth of world-class singers and the ever-increasing number of interesting, beautiful and acoustically appropriate venues in which they can be showcased.

Voices and Vines featured soprano Karina Bligh, mezzo soprano Charlotte Kelso and guest artist, bass Lachlan Scott, who were accompanied perfectly by Mark Sandon.

The Misanthrope

By Molière. A new version by Justin Fleming. Bell Shakespeare. Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. August 28 – September 28, 2018

Magic happens when Bell Shakespeare collaborates with director Lee Lewis from little Griffin Theatre up at Kings Cross – and even more when Justin Fleming brings the text.

Thrice he’s proved a master at adapting Molière’s old satires and couplets into a contemporary vernacular.  

Here Fleming takes on Molière’s most famous play (circa 1666) about the man who despises the false flattery and conniving of his peers yet pines for a faithless love-rat called Cymbeline.  

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