Reviews

Ghosts

By Henrik Ibsen. Newcastle Theatre Company. Director: Debra Hely. October 12 – 22, 2011.

It’s always reassuring when community theatre companies veer off the trusted path of farce and classics and venture into what might be perceived as more ‘risky’ territory – by either staging brand new, cutting-edge works or perhaps riskier still, taking one of Ibsen’s vehicles for a spin.

Tosca

Music: Giacomo Puccini. Libretto: Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Opera Queensland. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. Original Director: John Copley. Revival Director: Cathy Dadd. Conductor: Nicholas Braithwaite. October 15 – 29, 2011.

If you’re going to go out with a bang, it might as well be a big bang, and that’s what Chris Mangin’s swan-song as artistic director of Opera Queensland did with this magnificent production of Tosca.

Flush

By Tara Adams. Atherton Performing Arts (Qld). Director: Shane Trevorrow.

Beauty and the Beast

By Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Linda Woolverton. Northern Light Theatre Company (SA). The Shedley Theatre – 14 to 29 October, 2011.

Northern Light Theatre Company’s Beauty and the Beast at the Shedley Theatre, directed by Fran Edwards, journeys remarkably close to a professional production.

The show rides gracefully on the back of some masterfully crafted coat tails and features an outstanding cast as well as one of the most professional ensemble groups seen onstage in Adelaide amateur theatre for years.

Spring Awakening

Music: Duncan Sheik. Book & Lyrics: Steven Sater, based on the play by Frank Wedekind. Oscar Theatre Company. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. Director: Emily Gilhome. Musical Director: David Law. Choreographer: Rodney Pratt. 14 – 22 October 2011

I was blown away by this production as much as I was when I saw the original cast on Broadway. It’s a classy piece of musical theatre, and there’s class written all over Oscar Theatre Company’s production of it. Based on a 116 year-old German play by Frank Wedekind that was banned for a hundred years and has since been called a masterpiece, this musical version of the work is as relevant today as it must have been back when it was written.

This Year’s Ashes

By Jane Bodie. Griffin Theatre Company. Stables Theatre (NSW). October 12 – November 19, 2011.

“This city has rules. And if you can’t work them out then you’re lost, afloat. Because it’s hard and fast and shiny here, and it’s lonely.”

Loneliness… that is the overriding theme in This Year’s Ashes. The loneliness one feels when immersed in a city that’s in love with itself. Where genuine human contact is often fleeting and your past is never really that far behind you.

Monstrous Acts

Written, Designed and Directed by Steven Dawson. Out Cast Theatre (VIC). Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre, Brunswick. October 11-22, 2011.

Steven Dawson’s play is set in France in the 15th century, but this has little to do with the story of two men who are imprisoned and condemned to death - one innocent the other guilty of the worst crimes.

The context though, allows for the exploration of such Gothic themes as Heaven and Hell, Sin and Death, Love and Forgiveness.

The dark and intimate setting, serves well the narrative to come, which at times is unsettling but also poignant.  The haunting, Gothic music suitably evokes the presence and images of medieval Europe.

Ruben Guthrie

By Brendan Cowell. La Boite. Roundhouse Theatre, Brisbane. 8 October – 10 November, 2011

Ruben Guthrie is a modern Icarus. Alcohol is to Ruben what the sun was to Icarus: both high flyers crashed ignominiously.

It’s hard to decide who is the star of this show: Gyton Grantley for his brilliant performance? Or Brendan Cowell for his honest, vulnerable autobiographical script?

This is not a play to ‘enjoy’; rather it is to ‘live through the experience’ with one or other of the characters. We all know them: family, acquaintances, social revellers, business colleagues.

Cinderella

By Malcolm Harslett. Mighty Good Productions, SA. Star Theatres. Director: Malcolm Harslett. October 4 - 14, 2011

The Cinderella tale, done well, can introduce a new generation to the magic of theatre. And Mighty Good’s production does just that.

Unless you skipped childhood, you know the story of Cinderella. The differences between the popular story and that told here are the addition of a couple of characters.

The first is Buttons (Vince Fusco), whose friendship with Cinderella (Tahlia Monaghan) provides her with relief from the cruelty of her stepmother (Dianne K Lang) and step-sisters.

Aftermath

The New York Theatre Workshop Production. Presented in Association with ArKtype and Amnesty International. For Melbourne Festival. Malthouse Theatre. 11 to 14 October, 2011.

Crystallised from many, varied collected stories and individual experiences, distilled, then beautifully crafted into thematic theatre - Aftermath is presented as a collage of embodied stories from a city held to ransom, manipulated and violated. It is a story of communities/people/tribes set against each other by the invasion of external forces. Though didactic, the touch is light, enlightening, edifying and ultimately uplifting.

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