Reviews

Schism

By Melanie Bainbridge. La Mama (Vic). La Mama Courthouse. Director: Suzie Hardgrave. Set design: Casey-Scott Corless. Sound design: Skye Klein. Lighting design: Rebecca Etchell with John McKissock from Clearlight Shows. February 9 - 19, 2012

When you walk into a theatre and the floor is littered with Petrie dishes and a single row of seats line the stage on four sides, you know you're in for innovative, edgy theatre.

Schism is a cerebral science-fiction thriller that tells the story of two twins separated at birth, with opposite psychological profiles, drawn together on their quest to end the world in the same way.

Yes, Prime Minister

By Antony Jay and Jonathan Lyn. Director Tom Gutteridge. Comedy Theatre, Melbourne. January 31 to March 4, 2012 – then National tour.

All through the eighties Jay and Lyn ruled the up-market end of British TV comedy with first Yes, Minister, then Yes, Prime Minister. The writing was clever, the performances superb and the entertainment unsurpassable for 28 minutes every week.

Summer of the Aliens

By Louis Nowra. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Director: Susan O’Toole Cridland. 4 February – 3 March, 2012

An unwieldy play structure diminishes the impact of this touching ‘memory’ play.

Set against the big events of 1962 (Cold War, Cuban Missiles crisis, Snowy Mountains Scheme, flying saucers and aliens) Nowra cobbles together his own angst as he moves from childhood to adulthood.

Originally written as a radio play,it had over 20 scenes and a large cast. That success inspired Nowra to adapt it for the stage. However, the retained radio play structure is cumbersome, episodic and difficult to pull off.

 

DreamSong

Book and Lyrics: Hugo Chiarella. Music: Robert Tripolino. Arts Centre Melbourne / Carnegie 18 (VIC). Director: Michael Gurr. Musical Director / Musical Arrangements: Andrew Patterson. George Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre, Melbourne. 4 - 7 February, 2012.

Andrew Patterson. George Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre, Melbourne. 4 - 7 February, 2012.

The third and final show in Arts Centre Melbourne’ Carnegie 18 program, DreamSong, opened with a bang of heartfelt part-gospel, part-Broadway singing with tight harmonies, created by composer Robert Tripolino, stretched to cheesy limits. This, with the cast closing their eyes and raising their arms heavenwards, left the audience in no doubt that they had been catapulted into a US television church experience.

The Marriage of Figaro

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. February 6 – March 24, 1021.

In the program notes of this breathtakingly fresh and very contemporary production of one of the most well-known and most often performed operas, conductor Simon Hewitt writes that director Benedict Andrews “and I have been passionate about restoring ... a sense of the disquieting transgressions that made the opera so popular AND so controversial when it was first performed”.

Cautionary Tales for Children

Based on the verse by Hilaire Belloc. Arena Theatre Co., and Arts Centre Melbourne Carnegie 18 (VIC). Adapted by: Claudia O’Doherty. Composer: Mark Jones. Director: Chris Kohn. Designer: Jonathon Oxlade. Stage Manager: Meg Deyell. George Fairfax Studio, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne. 4-7 February, 2012.

Cautionary Tales for Children, the second of Arts Centre Melbourne’s Carnegie 18 projects, opened last Saturday in the George Fairfax Studio at the Victorian Arts Centre. The studio, usually sleek and ready for action, had a whimsical, homely flavour, created by the addition of mismatched retro lampshades hanging over the audience. A night of story-telling was in order.

A Chorus Line

By Marvin Hamlisch, Edward Kleban, James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante. Producer: Tim Lawson. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne. February 4 to March 3, 2012.

A Chorus Line made its Broadway debut in 1975, and showed no sign of stopping. Set in a Broadway audition where dancers reveal their private passions and personalities, it garnered Tony Awards, and even the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Avenue Q

Music & Lyrics: Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx. Book: Jeff Whitty. Based on an Original Concept by Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx. Townsville Choral Society. Director: Sandra Neal. Vocal Director: Rachel Cairns. Choreographer: Jeremy Poi. Orchestral Director: Ryan Christoffersen. January 27 – February 4, 2012

Townsville’s Choral Society took something of a gamble with their January production of Avenue Q; will audiences take to a cast of puppets, people and monsters? Is Townsville ready for live “puppet-sex” on stage? You bet, and the gamble paid off.

The cast of ten humans and numerous “people with fur” was tightly directed and the end result was an undoubted hit. The multiple Tony Award winning musical was a professional production worthy of any venue in the country.

Pygmalion

By George Bernard Shaw. Sydney Theatre Company. Sydney Theatre. Director: Peter Evens. 4 February – 3 March, 2012.

After 50 years of the comfortable, tuneful, overdressed My Fair Lady who would have thought there’d still be such energy, laughter and stinging relevance in Shaw’s mighty original? Peter Evens’ STC production is a revelation, and the packed opening night audience rattled the rafters in appreciation.

Oliver!

Book Music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. Packemin Productions. Directed by Neil Gooding. Parramatta Riverside Theatre. February 3 – 18, 2012

The first solo song for anyone playing the lead Oliver is on the high side. When nine year old Damian Hempstead struggled to pitch it, he hid his face in his gruel bowl in shame.

The audience willed him to keep going and were rewarded soon after, with a sweet performance of Where is Love?

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