Reviews

The Play That Goes Wrong

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields. Directed by Mark Bell. Australian Direction by Sean Turner. Melbourne - Comedy Theatre from 22 February, 2017; Adelaide - Her Majesty’s Theatre from 28 March; Sydney - Roslyn Packer Theatre from 5 April; Canberra Theatre from 25 April; Brisbane - Concert Hall, QPAC from 4 May and Perth - His Majesty’s Theatre from 31 May.

For anyone brought up in London in the fifties, this production is an homage to the Whitehall farces of Brian Rix. It doesn’t have a real plot, it lacks sophistication, and theatre elitists will turn up their noses – but that’s not its purpose. Its purpose is to leave the audience weak from laughing, and that’s exactly what it does. Lord knows the world needs laughter now more than ever, and TPTGW delivers in both clichéd and innovative ways.

The Sleeping Beauty

Ballet by Marius Petipa. Australian Ballet Production. Production & Additional Choreography: David McAllister. Music: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Costume & Set Design: Gabriela Tylesova. Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Nicolette Fraillon. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. 24 February to March 4, 2017

The Australian Ballet’s sumptuously opulent 2015 production of The Sleeping Beauty finally arrives in Brisbane and if audience reaction is anything to go by it is a thumping success. David McAllister’s version, the first full-length ballet created by him since he became artistic director of the company in 2001, is reverential to Petipa’s 1890 Russian original with some judicious edits for time. Act lll’s divertissements have been reduced to the Bluebird pas de deux and solo sequences.

Violet – A Musical

Music by Jeanine Tesori. Lyrics & Book by Brian Crawley. Davine Interventionz Productions. Adelaide Fringe. Star Theatre. February 22 – March 4, 2017

Violet is a relatively new American musical, and is a wonderful representation of the types of musicals coming from the Broadway theatre today; that is, not like the usual blockbusters that generally grace our Australian stages.

Away

By Michael Gow.Sydney Theatre Company/Malthouse Theatre Directed by Matthew Lutton/ Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre. Feb 18 – Mar 25, 2017

Brilliantly acted, with a spectacular set change, but lacking the emotional connection of smaller productions. That was one view which emerged in the foyer of the Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre after watching this seminal Australian play, 31 years after it opened at the much cosier Griffin Theatre.

Director Matthew Lutton had the large stage to play with and steered the production more towards its Shakespearean allusions.

The Judas Kiss

By David Hare. Red Line Productions. The Old Fitz Theatre. February 15 – March 11, 2017

David Hare is such a master playwright in his sublime ability to blend ideas and philosophical debate into the flesh and blood of real characters.  The Judas Kiss is a deeply moving and thoughtful rendition of the night Oscar Wilde refuses to run from his imprisonment and, in the second act, some years later in Naples, how he negotiates his ruin.

An Evening With Amanda Palmer

Adelaide Fringe 2017. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide. February 24 & 25, 2017

AMANDA PALMER is a major American chanteuse. Her songs are like a cross between Tom Lehrer and Kurt Weill. The emphasis, however, is on the lyrics, which (by her own admission) are ‘morose’ – endlessly ‘morose’.

She performed for over 2.5hrs to a devoted audience, mostly women, some of whom (a little annoying at times) sang along with her. I was a novice, and frankly, I started to become less interested in the songs but more in what she had to say about recent experiences, including her own artistic freedom as well as being a new mother.

Steptoe and Son

Based on the scripts by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. 1812 Theatre. The Lowe Auditorium. Feb 23 – Mar 18, 2017

One thing is for sure, when you attend an 1812 Theatre production you are guaranteed to be hit with plentiful production values.  Last night at the opening of their Steptoe and Son – the second coming (as they performed 3 episodes of the 60’s UK sitcom in July 2015), it sure didn’t disappoint.  From the foyer ‘decorations’ (they might just be having the carpet replaced… I’m sure they didn’t rip it up just for atmosphere… although, the might just have!), to the slice of life dual focus set, bursting with rag-and-bone

American Idiot

Music: Green Day. Lyrics: Billie Joe Armstrong. Book: Billie Joe Armstrong & Michael Mayer. Shake & Stir & QPAC Production. Director: Craig Ilott Musical Director: Glenn Moorhouse, Nik Pringadi Choreographer: Lucas Newland. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane. 25 February to 12 March, 2017

American Idiot is the most exciting new rock-opera to appear on a Brisbane stage in over a decade. Shake and Stir’s launch into the big-time with this Australian premiere takes musical theatre on a blistering no-holds-barred journey that’s visceral and anarchic.

The 39 Steps

Adapted by Patrick Barlow. Directed by John Boyce. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 25 February – 1 April, 2017

This is not your normal serious play with realistic characters in a realistic setting but more where the audience has to use its imagination with regard to both the characters and the set – what there was of it. As the director stated, he used many of the traditions of vaudeville and satire. For the most part, this has worked really well.

Smoked Ham

Peter Goers. Adelaide Fringe. Holden Street Theatres. 18, 19, 25, 26th Feb, 11, 12, 18, 19th March, 2017

Peter Goers’ latest show Smoked Ham is like spending the afternoon with an eccentric uncle and it is a pure delight. Greeting the predominantly mature audience in head to toe cycling lycra was an ingenious way to start; when I attended, laughter filled the performance space within seconds.

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