Reviews

Strange Interlude

By Simon Stone ‘after Eugene O’Neill’. Belvoir Theatre, Sydney. Director: Simon Stone. 9 May – 17 June, 2012.

One of dramatic history’s most famous yet least produced plays, Eugene O’Neill’s 1928 Pulitzer Prize winning Strange Interlude, nearly gets a rare showing at the Belvoir. The bones of the modernistic milestone are there, but the original post-Great-War characters can only be perceived through a filter of laptops, smartphones and obscenity-laden Aussie language. For this is Simon Stone’s Strange Encounter, not O’Neill’s.

An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical.

Book by Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen. Music and Lyrics by Ken Hirsch and Robin Lerner. Based on the movie written by Douglas Day Stewart. Director: Simon Phillips. Lyric Theatre, The Star. World Premiere: May 18, 2012.

It opens with the sound of a jet fighter screaming overhead. We were strapped in for a night of musical theatre quite unlike any other. If the production was an aircraft carrier I’d say the first act was steady as she goes  – but the second act roared into action, pressing all the right entertainment buttons.

The Laramie Project – 10 Years Later

By Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project. Red Stitch Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne (Vic). Fairfax Studio. Director: Gary Abrahams. Set Designer: Peter Mumford. Costume Designer: Yunuen Perez. 16 – 26 May, 2012.

Nine actors take on 60 characters in an expertely-paced and intensely compact theatrical experience lasting just over 100 minutes, without interval, in The Laramie Project – 10 Years Later.

The Heretic

By Richard Bean. Melbourne Theatre Company. Director: Matt Scholten. Sumner Theatre, MTC. May 12 – June 23, 2012.

When Doctor Diane Cassell (Noni Hazlehurst) publicly questions fellow academics’ data on climate change she loses her job, and even her life is threatened. Scepticism is a threat to political correctness. Add to that her department head who loves her, an anorexic and disturbed daughter, and a gormless but brilliant super-green student who wants to kill himself rather than pollute the world, and you have the recipe for a highly palatable night’s entertainment.

Teach Me to Cry

Written and directed by Mohammed Hashem. Owl and the Pussycat, Richmond, Melbourne. May 8 – 19, 2012.

Sweet Charity

By Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields and Neil Simon. The Regals Musical Society. St George Auditorium, Kogarah. May 15 – 19, 2012.

Downsizing was the only real option, but what an excellent choice it has proven for Sweet Charity.

The renovation saga of the asbestos plagued Rockdale Town Hall drags on, with another show planned, cast and designed for the venue, needing to be re-thought for a small stage with miniscule backstage facilities.

Pared back to a stylish single setting, using minimal carry-on props, incorporating effective use of projections, director Ste Casimiro and The Regals Musical Society have come up with a pacy, high-energy production.

Carmen The Musical

By Georges Bizet. Adapted and Arranged by Bobbie Field. Book and Lyrics by David Badger. Warragul Theatre Company (Vic). Director: Michelle Carigy. West Gippsland Arts Centre. May 18 – 26, 2012.

The first thing that strikes you is the excitement and the passion that embraces everyone. No, not from the audience, which was small (but enthusiastic) at the preview I attended, but from the company itself. This is the heart of Community theatre – they give their all; not for the money; not for the glory; but for the sheer exhilaration and love of performing.

 

The Glass Menagerie

By Tennessee Williams. State Theatre Company of South Australia. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Theatre. 4-26 May, 2012

What a stunning opening gambit! I imagine it was the brainchild of Director Adam Cook and his Designer Victoria Lamb. The smoke and Mark Pennington’s magic lighting effects, while set pieces rose or fell into place (not quite fitting together – deliberately, to remind us this is a memory play and memory is fallible) to Composer Stuart Day’s haunting sounds of the era,  remain fast in my memory.

Midnight Son

By Gordon Kerry. Victorian Opera. Conductor: Ollivier Philippe Cunéo. Director: Nicki Wendt. Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse. May 16 – 23, 2012

I was one of a privileged crowd to experience the World Premiere of Gordon Kerry’s latest opera, Midnight Son. Based on the murder of Maria Korp in 2005, the names were changed and there was probably some licence taken with the story line, but it was a powerful drama.

I was blown away.

Blood Brothers

By Willy Russell. NUCMS (Normanhurst Uniting Church Musical Society, NSW). Co-Directors: Francis Voon and David Russell. Musical Director: Jeff Fisher. May 4 – 19, 2012.

There’s an aura of Greek Tragedy about Willy Russell’s musical Blood Brothers and its tale of twin brothers, Mickey and Edward, split at birth, raised in respective poverty and wealth, becoming best friends (unaware of their connection), before dying as a consequence of a tragic love triangle.

With basic resources and facilities, NUCMS presents a clear, creditable interpretation with a strong narrative sense, making a virtue of enforced simplicity. It’s a small show, well-matched to its presentation and venue.

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