Reviews

Sappho … in 9 Fragments.

Written and performed by Jane Montgomery Griffiths. Staging by Marion Potts. CUB Malthouse, Melbourne until August 21.

Sometimes being in the audience at the theatre can be an enlightening, entertaining, challenging, thought-provoking, deeply moving and uplifting affair. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, it can be all of these things. Mostly, you count yourself lucky if it’s one of them. Sometimes, you can also sit there wondering what on earth is going on, and I need to confess, straight up, that from the moment it started to the moment it finished, Ms Montgomery Griffiths’ brilliantly performed ode to the poet Sappho went straight over my head. I’m sorry, but it did.

Between Us

By Joe Hortua. Ensemble Theatre. Until September 4.

If playwright Joe Hortua’s scenario is to be believed, neither pursuing idealistic, artistic dreams, or compromising and selling out to commercialism is likely to bring much happiness.

Two arts college friends, and their partners, share significant history, but have gone down very different paths. Now, they meet some later.

Jennifer Don and her strong Ensemble Theatre cast work effectively to portray as self-obsessed a quartet of American 30-somethings as you’d quite happily never meet.

Prix D’Amour (The Price of Love)

Book Lyrics and music by Paul Dion. Based on the book “Rose” by Robert Wainwright. Spectrum Theatre Group, Merimbula. Director: Elaine Waddell. 30th July – 14th August 2010.

The popular wisdom may be that Rose Hancock married her mining tycoon Lang Hancock for his millions. But according to this production there was also love in the equation.

The world premiere season of this fascinating story was performed in a very intimate theatre, at Merimbula NSW. The Spectrum Theatre Company should be so very proud of themselves, making the evening such a memorable night out, and producing great sets, costumes and speciality props on such a small stage.

Swan Lake on Ice.

The Imperial Ice Stars. Artistic Director/Choreographer: Tony Mercer. State Theatre, Melbourne and touring.

Australian set designer Eamon D’Arcy captured the feel of Russia, from the lake scenes, to the interior of the Royal Palace, in his superb designs for Swan Lake on Ice. Swan Lake on Ice had elements of the classic ballet, except this time two dancers played Odette and Odille, there was a different ending, and, it was done on ice. The movements, while based on normal competition skating moves, fitted the story line of Swan Lake, gave a feeling of continuity and added to the spectacular.

Stephen Lynch: The 3 Balloons Tour.

The Palms at Crown, Melbourne.

Diminutive YouTube phenonemon and Tony Award Nominee Stephen Lynch took all of about a minute to have the capacity crowd eating out of his hands with a hilarious video about a ‘Hands on a Hard Body’ competition. In it, Mr Lynch has been in training for ages (along with a rag-tag bunch of other competitors), to endure the wintery elements and keep his hands firmly planted on a truck. The person who keeps their hands on the truck the longest, wins the truck.

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

Adpted by Jeffrey Hatcher from Robert Louis Stephenson. 1812 Theatre (Vic) Director: Christine Grant. Aug 5 – Sept 4.

Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher brings Robert Louis Stephenson’s classic tale to life with a fiendishly clever, imaginative, innovative new adaptation, with four actors playing Hyde, including one female. Although unexpected, this worked very successfully and added to the horror of the story. 1812 Theatre’s designer and construction crew assembled an amazing set which adapted very quickly to a drawing room, offices, laboratory, private surgery, morgue, lecture theatre, Hyde’s room, hotel room, various streets and alleys.

TOGETHER

By Tom Davies, Peter Fraser and Barry Laing. La Mama (VIC). August 4- 15.

TOGETHER is a performance about two men. Men between walls. Two men trying to get on. Trying to be cheerful. Trying to be kind. Going for the jugular. Trying to leave; finding it difficult to stay. Two men trying to live, by suspect means.”

Tango Inferno

The Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires. State Theatre, Sydney. Aug 4 - 6

The ornate beauty of the State Theatre conjures up elegance, tradition and opulence. However, on entering the auditorium for the opening night of Tango Inferno - The Fire Within I was a bit taken aback by the performers onstage, who were all shapes and sizes and wildly varying in talent. Was I in the right place? Or was this the local dance studio dance off? Ah no, it is the ‘social’ at the start of the show! Anyone from the audience is invited to come up onstage and take part in the communal ‘Milonga’, for half an hour prior to the show.

Red, Red Riding Hood

By Kat Kiorgaard and Rosie Howell. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 30th June – 4th September, 2010

It’s always great to welcome a new youth musical, especially to this theatre where the year-round weekend matinees are a staple of the annual income and a fertile training ground for actors. Kat Kiorgaard cleverly incorporated a familiar nursery tale – shows without a title familiar to parents tend to do poor business. The red hood has been handed down through the generations to a modern karate kid who, like her forebear, is taking something to her grandmother, in this case a cumbersome package.

Gwen in Purgatory by Tommy Murphy

Company B. Director: Neil Armfield. Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney until September 19. La Boite, Brisbane September 29 to October 24.

It began like a Lucille Ball style sitcom. Gwen, aged 90 (played elegantly by Melissa Jaffer) is alone in her new home with all the appliances still to be unpacked, but just can’t quite make it in time to pick up the telephone. The rings always stop just before her creaky bones get to the hand held phone on the kitchen bench top.

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