Reviews

The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl

Black Swan State Theatre Company and Queensland Theatre Company at the Playhouse, Perth (WA). Director: Kate Cherry. 29 May – 19 June

Set in the sterile white house of successful doctor Lane, we meet Matilde, a Brazilian maid, who is in mourning for her parents who died laughing. Cleaning depresses Matilde, who would rather use her time to invent the world’s funniest joke. Fortunately Lane’s sister Virginia loves to clean and secretly takes over Matilde’s job.

42ND STREET

Music: Harry Warren. Lyrics: Al Dubin. Savoyards @ Iona Performing Arts Centre (Qld). Director/Choreographer: Sue Harvey. Music Director: Geoffrey Secomb. June 5 to 19.

42nd Street is the quintessential backstage story; when the leading lady breaks her leg, a chorine replaces her and becomes a star. Based on the 1933 Warner Bros movie, the original stage production had a nine year Broadway run and was a tap-dancing extravaganza. Savoyards production gets an A in almost every department; a cast of fifty, splashy costumes, a set of top-rate principals, and a dazzling tap-dancing chorus of eighteen. Best performance was by Brad Rush as the show’s producer Julian Marsh. He was assured, totally believable, and sang well.

Daisy Pulls It Off by Denise Degan

Atherton Performing Arts (Qld). Director: Lillian Field. May 28 – June 5.

Daisy Pulls It Off is a fast-paced production about schoolgirl innocence. The heroine of the story is Daisy Meredith, played with conviction by Bridie Rawlins, who arrives at snobby Grangewood College on a scholarship. Daisy immediately attracts enemies in Sybil (Natalie Day) and Monica (Stephanie Lambourne). She also recruits a good friend in Trixie (Sarah Broomhall). The two then overcome many obstacles in their quest to find acceptance.

Fat Pig by Neil laBute

QTC. Bille Brown Studio (Qld). May 31 to June 26

This play seduced me despite my reservations about the title. I am over political correctness and our obsession with body image. The title offended me. Jibes about the overweight character were there, derogatory and vicious, but directed mostly to the likeable young man who was attracted to her. Fat Pig is actually a brilliant examination of real situations involving real people. Brilliant writing, Mr laBute!

House on Fire by Debra Oswald

Australian Theatre For Young People. Director: Jo Turner. ATYP Studio 1, The Wharf. (NSW) June 3 – 13.

This charming little play was commissioned by SCEGGS - a private school in Sydney's Eastern sSuburbs with a brief no doubt for a contemporary piece of drama, with humour and lots of parts for girls. Debra Oswald has fulfilled this brief with flying colours. The Australian Theatre for Young People production was a treat to watch, except for the occasional difficulty in hearing some of the more softly spoken characters. The narrator is India, who is the bright as a spark neighbour of the Conway sisters, played very sharply by Nathalie Fenwick.

Peter Brook’s 11 and 12

Theatre des Bouffes du Nord. Sydney Theatre. Until June 13.

The full stage of the Sydney Theatre. A large orange rug. A small patch of sand. Two stylised tree trunks on wheels, three stumps and a few branches. And downstage left, a variety of instruments. In essence, a Brook stage. In 11 and 12, Peter Brook has used this simple but evocative setting to take the story of Tierno Bokar – a Sufi master from a small African community – to the world. And fortunately, to Sydney, the only city in Australia where it will be performed.

King Lear by William Shakespeare.

Bell Shakespeare. Directed by Marion Potts, Designer Dale Ferguson, Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper, Composer/Musician Bree van Reyk, Sound Designer Stefan Gregory. The Playhouse, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, then His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth from 18 June.

Poor Shakespeare. His works have been trussed up, borrowed, abused, paraded as ‘chocolate box confection’ and shoe-horned into any and every possible ‘modern dress’ incarnation at the whim of directors the world over.

Such is Life – An Evening of One Act Plays.

A Change of Heart by Colleen Soper, The Hitch Hiker by Lucille Fletcher and Asylum by Alec Baron. The Henry Lawson Theatre, Werrington (NSW). May 14 - June 4.

The Henry Lawson Theatre’s foyer has the feel of a bygone suburban cinema in miniature. The illusion continues as the lights go down in the auditorium of the intimate playhouse at Werrington in Sydney’s west. Impressively produced previews of future productions are screened before the live performance begins.

It’s a remarkable transformation of the tin-roofed shed I last visited about 20 years ago.

The latest attraction is a trio of short plays including a locally written play, a staging of a radio play and a moving post-holocaust drama.

The Laughter Subsides

Tap Gallery (NSW). Director/ writer: Sam Basger. Mural design: Justin Feuerring

This piece opens with a couple sitting upside-down on chairs at the dinner table. Perhaps this is what the through-line is, that this couple see things from a warped perspective or they’re so bored and uninventive in their lives and their marriage that they’ve gone topsy-turvy. The script by writer/director Sam Basger showed promise with some terrific one-liners and innovative ideas, but I wondered what the objective was. It didn’t seem to be driving us anywhere.

Half A Person: My Life as Told by The Smiths

By Alex Broun. Fly-On-The-Wall Theatre. Chapel off Chapel, Prahran. RETURN SEASON. AUGUST 4 - 15

Half A Person, written by Alex Broun, is the 110-minute story of William’s life, performed solely by Mark Taylor. If the length of the show wasn’t amazing enough, Taylor also had to stop and sing The Smiths songs throughout the show.

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