Reviews

All Is Calm

By Peter Rothstein. Musical arrangements by Erick Lichte & Timothy C. Takach. Goodwood Institute. 21 - 23 December, 2017.

Promise Adelaide’s production of All is Calm is a rather sombre, moving and at times perplexing show. It focuses on that rather unique but true event in the history of WWI in which on Christmas Eve, 1914, German and British soldiers put down their weapons and met in ‘No Man’s Land’ in order to exchange Christmas greetings and well wishes.

The production is a type of ‘verbatim’ theatre in that it is a series of recollections from those involved, punctuated and supported by songs, Christmas songs as well as other popular WW1 songs.

The Unbelievables

The Works Entertainment. Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, Dec 19 – 29, 2017; Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, Jan 3 – 13, 2018; Crown Theatre, Perth, Jan 18 – 28, 2018.

Glitz, glam and lots of lights and decibels herald this new show from the producers that took ‘The Illusionists’ and ‘The Golden Age of Circus’ from their Sydney premieres to the international touring circuit. In this production, they expand from a single theme to bring together performers from different “genres and skillsets” in a show that combines circus, magic, dance and music – and a little bit of Las Vegas-style hype.

A Very Kransky Christmas

Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Cremorne Theatre, 19 to 23 December, 2017

Some families do charity work together for Christmas; others fire up the barbie and break out the backyard cricket. The Kransky Sisters gather in their Esk homestead’s lonely lounge room and sing songs. It helps to distract them from the disappointment of realising that Santa has bypassed their house yet again. Middle sibling Eve must also deal with the added frustration of knowing that her recurring wish-list item – a husband – will inevitably be crossed off by one of her sisters.

A Christmas Carol

By Melissa Lee Speyer, with thanks to Charles Dickens. Lies, Lies and Propaganda. KXT - Kings Cross Theatre. Dec 14 – 24, 2017

An exciting merry rendition, for the festive mood, of Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol. Dickens’ novel is much of doom and gloom; Lies, Lies and Propaganda’s Theatre Co production is the opposite, an interesting mixture of Dickens’ themes and present day conflicts, bringing together a mixture of family and society’s values towards others in need of Christmas cheer, adapted by Melissa Lee Speyer.

The Nutcracker

Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Queensland Ballet. Choreographer: Ben Stevenson. Conductor: Nigel Gaynor. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. 8-16 Dec 2017

Presented annually for the past four years, Queensland Ballet’s The Nutcracker has been so phenomenally successful that this year they’ve had to move the production to a bigger venue to accommodate the demand for tickets. Notwithstanding this production also saw the return to the stage for the first time in 18 years of Queensland Ballet’s artistic director Li Cunxin as Dr Drosselmeyer, a one-time only performance on 10 December that was sold-out within one hour of the tickets going on sale.

Much Ado About Nothing

By William Shakespeare. Melbourne Shakespeare Company. St Kilda Botanical Gardens. December 2 – 17, 2017

A night (or day) spent watching theatre surrounded by idyllic gardens is never a time wasted. Surrounded by the rose garden at the St Kilda Botanical Gardens, Melbourne Shakespeare Company set up their stage for their recent offering, Much Ado About Nothing.

The Hitmen

By Mish Wittrup. The Baker’s Dozen Theatre Company. Meat Market, North Melbourne. December 13 – 16, 2017.

Independent theatre is booming in Melbourne and new kids on the block The Baker’s Dozen Theatre Company are forging ahead. A team of graduate actors from the Ballarat Arts Academy who got together at the end of 2013, have been consistently and tirelessly producing theatre that challenges and provoke audiences. Self-funded, with collaborative eclectic tastes, they consistently excel, producing classical and contemporary works. The Hitmen is no exception, a current piece of homegrown theatre by Mish Wittrup.

The Wedding Singer

Music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Beguelin and Tim Herlihy. Wanneroo Repertory. Directed by Jen Edwards and David Nelson. Limelight Theatre, Wanneroo, WA. Nov 23 - Dec 9, 2017

It was a celebration of the 1980s with Wanneroo Repertory’s The Wedding Singer, a bright and enthusiastic production that exploded with colour and energy.

Jen Edwards’ set was a multi-level, practical design, with a backdrop filled with iconic images from circa 1985, painted by Ursula Kortara. Costumes stunningly featured the worst excesses of 80s fashion, with excellent, multiple costuming on all of the ensemble.

Kiss Sigh Shout Laugh Cry Dream

The La Mama Youth Ensemble. Curated by Adam Cass. La Mama Theatre. November 29 – December 10, 2017.

This youth work offers much to a big crew of emerging and developing theatre makers and their audiences.  Although all aspects may not be fully formed or acutely realized, as an ambitious conceptual piece brought to production, it is inspirational and inspiring.

The Seagull

By Anton Chekhov, adapted by Anthony Skuse. Secret House. The Depot Theatre, Marrickville, NSW. December 6 – 16, 2017

Anthony Skuse has adapted this four-act work by Anton Chekhov into an almost two-hour production that retains the melancholy of the thwarted ambitions and tortured relationships of his nineteenth century characters yet brings them into a more contemporary frame. And, a multicultural cast using their native dialects, highlights the universality of the themes, especially the depressing effects failure and despair.

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