Reviews

Vieux Carré

By Tennessee Williams. Itch Productions. Director/Co-producer/Costume Design – Alice Bishop; Lighting Design – John Dutton; Set Design and Scenic Artist – Alexandra Hiller; Vocal Coaches – Les Cartwright and Jarrod Benson; Stage Manager – Harriet Gregory and Set Construction – Colin Orchard. For Midsummer Festival at 45 Downstairs (Vic). January 17 to February 3, 2013.

They say the best thing a director can do for her actors is create the appropriate atmosphere for a play’s characters to come to life in.  For invoking a magic little part of New Orleans in the 1930’s, at 45 Downstairs, full marks must go to Alice Bishop, as director of this rich and satisfying production of Vieux Carré by Tennessee Williams.   

A Masked Ball

By Giuseppe Verdi. Libretto by Antonio Somma. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Jan 16 - Feb 12, 2013

The opera opened with striking 3D images of young and beautiful bodies, onto which pictures were projected of dramatic moments. A high and deep cement structure then descended, pieces rose up and down, sometimes creating balconies.

Onto the stage came the enormous chorus, all in suits, only differentiated by the numbers printed on them. They were wearing white padded helmets over their heads. An unkind member of the audience said they resembled bandages.

Acidtongue and Dollface

Written and Directed by Christopher Bryant Cast: Kristina Benton – Susan’s Mother, James Cerche – James, Trelawney Edgar – Susan, Christian Hoegh – Susan’s Father. The Owl and the Pussycat, Richmond (Vic). 10 – 20 January 2013.

The stakes were too high for this opening night.  The Owl and the Pussycat have been extremely courageous in their recent offerings and MKA has just treated Melbourne audiences to a string of great productions.  So my expectations were high. So - what follows is an attempt to understand why and what this production is lacking.

OVO

Cirque de Soleil. Written and Directed by Deborah Colker. The Grand Chapiteau, Docklands (Vic). From January 17th, 2012

When I told my Beloved that the new Cirque de Soleil show we were seeing was about insects, he quipped “Should we take Aerogard?” We didn’t, and we weren’t at risk from the “insects”, only from the air-conditioning. Essential on the hottest night of the year, (we would have died without it) the noise from it was both deafening and painful, but not distracting. Nothing can ever distract from the magic and wonder that is at the core of every Cirque de Soleil show.

The Small Poppies

By David Holman. New Theatre, Newtown (NSW). January 17 – 26, 2013.

The Small Poppies may be about little Aussie kids and written thirty years ago but this New Theatre production shows it never grows old.  David Holman’s play expresses our 1980s confidence in multiculturalism and, crucially, the power of good teachers to guide young kids to embrace difference.  That, sadly, may sound dated but, with these particular kids at their first day of big school, Holman’s message is never heavy-handed.

Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare. The Australian Shakespeare Company. Artistic Director / Producer: Glenn Elston. Costumes: Karla Erenbots. Musical Director: Paul Norton. Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. 20 Dec, 2012 - 9 Mar, 2013.

After 25 years staging outdoor theatre it seems Glenn Elston is far from giving the game away. And why would he? A Glenn Elston production in the Botanic Gardens is as much part of Melbourne's summer tradition as the Boxing Day test, The Australian Open, free symphony concerts at the Myer Music Bowl and barbecues by the Yarra River.

Leo

Circle of Eleven. Created by Tobias Wegner. Directed by Daniel Briere. Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne. 15th-27th January, 2013.

Ssssh! What can you hear? The audience is aged between 5 and 75 yet… apart from the delighted laughter which peppers the show, you can hear ….NOTHING! No rustling, fidgeting, coughing, shuffling or kids asking “What’s he doing Mummy?” Our silence was testimony to the fact that we were all, no matter what our ages, mesmerised by the gravity defying antics of Leo, spellbound by the sheer innovation and brilliance of this one man show. Belgian Tobias Wegner is Leo, and he’s also the creator the show.

Tinderbox

By Alana Valentine. Tredwood Productions by special arrangement with RGM Artist Group. Theatre 19 Season, Darlinghurst Theatre. Jan 4 – 27, 2012.

Prolific playwright Alana Valentine has a knack for delivering topical, often verbatim theatre based on researching real conflicts and people. With summer fires again encircling us, predictable and yet always newly shocking, Valentine takes us to a “tinderbox” country town under siege from fire.

Oh Suivant!

Performed by: Dirk Van Boxelaere, Flen Ban Herwegen. Direction: Dirk Van Boxelaere, Flen Ban Herwegen, Leandre Ribera. Music: Alain Reubens. Set: Paul Van Herwegen. Costume: Monique Jacobs. Art Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio 15 – 27 January, 2013.

Oh Suivant! is a delightfully enlivening and fun intimate circus experience, in a comfortable small theatre at the Arts Centre, where everyone gets a great view of what is happening. The three children who accompanied me, a six, an eight and an eleven year old, were engrossed by this cheeky, funny, ‘five hander’.  Well it is a ‘two hander’ really - that makes very entertaining use of audience members!

Psycho Beach Party

By Charles Busch. Theatre Works, as part of the Midsumma Festival. January 11 – 19, 2013.

Psycho Beach Party is campy fun with a hip young cast channelling all sorts of B-grade movie characters, and doing it with unfailing energy.

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