Reviews

Sunset Boulevard

By Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Christopher Hampton. CLOC Musical Theatre (Vic). National Theatre, St Kilda. May 4 – 19, 2012.

From May 4 to 19, the National Theatre at St Kilda is the proud host of CLOC Musical Theatre’s extravagant production of Sunset Boulevard. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is set in 1950s Hollywood, where struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis meets and forms a dependent relationship with silent film era star Norma Desmond.   

Vikram and the Vampire

Zen Zen Zo. Studio 3, Old Museum, Brisbane. 3 – 19 May 2012

This was my first experience of Zen Zen Zo. Lynne Bradley and Simon Woods formed the company in 1992 and passed on the mantle to recent inductees to Brisbane’s Theatre Hall of Fame, Michael Futcher and Helen Howard.

As first production under their direction Futcher and Howard reworked their 1995 success The King and the Corpse, this time using stories from Indian folklore.  Hence Vikram and the Vampire.           

Avenue Q

By Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty. JYM Theatre Co. (Vic). Phoenix Theatre, Elwood. May 5 – 19, 2012

Sold out before opening night (extra performances now scheduled), Avenue Q at the Phoenix Theatre is a delight. Professional, riveting, moving; JYM Theatre Company’s purpose is achieved. 

Miss Saigon

A musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr. Chatswood Musical Society. Director: Anne Veitch. Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. May 4 - 12, 2012.

Not so long ago the Chatswood Musical Society specialised in staging almost forgotten operettas with large choruses filled with middle aged and elderly men and women. Lilac Time, Waltzes From Vienna and The Naughty Marietta were amongst them. What a contrast Miss Saigon was, in the company’s first production inside the sparkling new Concourse Theatre. The leggy girls in their tight hotpants and skimpy bikini tops inside the Saigon nightclub were literally a world away from the Chatswood Musical Society of old.

Speaking in Tongues

By Andrew Bovell. Canberra Repertory Society. Director: Ross McGregor. Theatre 3, 3 Repertory Lane, Acton, Canberra. 4 – 19 May, 2012.

Nine characters’ lives twist, weave and glance off each other in this swim through the murky side of suburban behaviours. You dip your toes in the water as two couples make tentative steps towards adultery. The current gets stronger as a man pines for the fiancée who fled to Europe before the wedding and never came back. Before you know it, you’re in over your head as another woman disappears without trace.

Boo

By Matthew Blackwood Hume. King Street Theatre, Newtown. May 1 – 13, 2012.

A new Australian play, produced on the smell of an oily rag, and presented as a profit share, rates for me as way preferable to some very ordinary new plays I’ve seen with big bucks and big names thrown at them in mainstream seasons, where I tend to resent my share of any taxpayer subsidy. There’s honest raw energy, as everyone gives generously of themselves for little or no remuneration, in ‘Off-OfF-Broadway’ type venues, to get new work up, even if it is somewhat undercooked.

Keep Smiling! The Housewife’s Guide

The Colour Blind Project. Bondi Pavillion. May 1 – 19, 2012

It’s the 1960’s, the Vietnam War is upon us and any housewife worth her weight looks perfect, sounds perfect and cooks perfectly!

Keep Smiling! The Housewife’s Guide is a kitsch, melodramatic piece, showcasing a snapshot into the life and times of six middle class women in Australia. Daniel Alleck’s set is fantastic and absolutely ideal for the mood, the period and the pavilion space.

Escape to Peligro Island

Windmill Theatre. Arts Centre Melbourne. Preview: May 3, 2012. Performances on May at 11 am and 1.30pm.

Although I’ve taken many a grandchild to the pictures, I don’t recall taking them to live theatre. Unfortunately I didn’t have one available to come when I attended a school preview of Escape to Peligro Island. I wish I had.

The Liar’s Bible

By Fiona Samuel. Sydney Independent Theatre Company, 8A/32-60 Alice Street, Newtown. May 1 – 19, 2012.

It’s easy to see why New Zealand playwright Fiona Samuel has won awards. In this play, she has created characters that are carefully and skilfully revealed in a multiplicity of short scenes that challenge director, designers, cast and audience alike. Yet they come together, in final moments that link and expose, but don’t make lengthy explanations. Samuel is a clever writer who shows genuine respect for the ability of her audience to make connections.

The Girls in Grey

By Carolyn Bock and Helen Hopkins. Presented by The Shift Theatre in association with Theatre Works. Director: Karen Martin. Lighting Design: Nick Merrylees. Sound Design: Nick Van Cuylenberg. Set Design: Alexander Hiller. Costume Design: Lyn Wilson. Theatre Works. April 25 to May 13, 2012.

The Girls in Grey is an amalgam of experiences of Australian Army Nurses serving in World War One. Much of the text comes from diary entries and letters. It is a work that ‘tells it like it really was’ through the sensibilities of the women of the era.

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