Reviews

Bondi Dreaming

Written and Directed by Sam Atwell. Tamarama Rock Surfers. Bondi Pavilion Sydney. November 8 to December 3, 2011.

The opening night audience enjoyed a delicious sea breeze on the balcony of the Bondi Pavilion, overlooking Australia’s most famous beach. We then crammed into the theatre to watch young men locked in a cage like cell.

It gave a taste of what sense of loss a prisoner might feel in those circumstances.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

By Dale Wasserman, based on the novel by Ken Kesey. Epicentre Theatre Company. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood (NSW). November 4 – 12, 2011.

On a scaffolding set, where simplicity is a particularly effective choice, and the rear stage wall is clearly visible, necessary functional furniture items are the only further set dressing. There is no attempt to physically represent a mental institution.

Taking on the huge challenge of staging what has become an iconic movie, director Ben Lenzo has wisely pared all areas of his production back to the simplest elements of story-telling, avoiding direct comparison.

Warning: Explicit Material

By Geoffrey Atherden. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 27 October – 10 December, 2011

Dramatist Geoffrey Atherden is a national treasure. His iconic 1984-1994 television comedy Mother and Son, all 42 episodes, remain as fresh and as touching as ever. His 18 episode exposure of the awfulness of local councils, Grass Roots, was exceptional comic TV drama in 2000-2003. Now his new 3-character theatre play is welcomed on the open-plan Ensemble stage by a packed subscription audience. Hooray for funny, literate Australian drama with something important on its mind.

Fiddler on the Roof

By Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick. Gosford Musical Society (NSW) Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford. Director: Ted Williams. October 28 – November 19, 2011.

Caravan

By Donald Macdonald. Peridot Theatre (Vic). Director: Bob Bramble. November 4 – 19, 2011

Donald Macdonald’s Caravan is the holiday we would all like to forget; the story of three couples on a caravan holiday in NSW.

Peridot Theatre’s amazing set represents a rather long caravan, open-sided to reveal the interior where all the action takes place, with outside events achieved by excellent sound effects, from hitting one’s head upon entry, to erecting the annexe, to the thunderstorm and rain which kept the holiday makers inside the caravan for two weeks.

Robin Hood’s Lament / Dido and Aeneus

Yarra Theatre Company (Vic). Artistic and Musical Director: Nigel McBain. Choreographer and Assistant Director: Natalie Phillips. Ashwood Secondary College. October 26 - 30, 2011

I recently heard a visitor from Sydney express surprise that Melbourne had fourteen opera companies to Sydney’s three. I wouldn’t be able to name fourteen in Melbourne, and I don’t know if they included the G&S Societies, but we certainly have many more than three.

So what prompted Nigel McBain to start up another?

For a start this talented lad obviously has a passion for baroque opera, and no-one else appears to be focusing on this. Secondly, it appears to be an amateur company, while many of the others are semi-professional.

Camelot

By Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. MLOC (Vic). Director: Judy Sullivan. Musical Director: Danny Forward. Choreographer: Merilyn Young. November 4 – 11, 2011.

Lips Together Teeth Apart

By Terrence McNally. Mixed Salad Productions (SA). Star Theatre Two. Director: David Simms. October 21 - November 5, 2011

Only Terrence McNally would write a play that shows the instability of straight relationships compared to gay ones – with no gay characters.

Instead, all the gay characters are offstage. Sally (Tracey Walker) and her husband, Sam (Steve Parker) have inherited a beach house in a gay ghetto from her brother, who died of AIDS-related illnesses.

The couple have invited Sam’s sister, Chloe (Nicole Rutty) and her husband John (Peter Davies) to join them for the New Year’s Eve weekend.

Time's Arrow

Birnam Wood Theatre. Director: Shannon Woollard. La Mama Courthouse Theatre (Vic). November 1 – 12, 2011.

Cafe Rebetika

Conceived and Directed by Stephen Helper. Co-Writer Choreographer: Thomas Papathanassiou. Set Design: Bill Buckley. Costume Designer: Adrienne Chisholm. Lighting Designer: Nigel Levings. Associate Lighting: Designer: Richard Vabre. Live music by Rebetiki. Musical Director – Yiangoullis Achilles and Musicians; Tony Iliou, Takis Dimitru, Argyris Argyropoulis and Paddy Montgomery. The Arts Centre, Playhouse. 3 – 13 November, 2011.

Cafe Rebetika is a contemporary Australian musical with a huge heart that was inspired by a fascinating time and place in Greek history. With the support of the Arts Centre it has been honed, through its development, with great integrity and sensitivity to a point where it should ‘take off’.  What it most needs at the moment is for Melbourne’s Greek audiences to fill the houses and bring with them as much love, tenderness and understanding as the piece itself has been melded with.

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