Reviews

Detroit

By Lisa L’Amour. Directed by Tanya Dickson. Red Stitch (Vic). 25 Aug-26 September, 2015.

At first it seems like a farce, an American version of a Ray Cooney play about funny neighbours. But playwright Lisa D’Amour and Director Tanya Dickson quickly put that concern to bed. The play isn’t even set in Detroit – that town is just the metaphor for the crumbling of American Society, a malaise which alienates and disenfranchises its citizens. Ghosts abound in the ether to remind us that this motor metropolis had a thriving past, though it has no future. Dreams hold more weight than reality, and perceptions are skewed to see what we want to see.

Volpone (or the Fox)

By Ben Johnson, in a new adaptation by Emily Steel. State Theatre Company of SA. August 21st – September 12th, 2015

Volpone means ‘sly fox’ in Italian and it is an aptly named satire full of greed and lust. Written in 1605 by Ben Johnson, it remains his most performed play. Reworking the script, playwright Emily Steel has brought a modern flavour to her adaptation. The lengths to which people are capable of going to attain wealth is not an uncommon tale and this story plays well in the 21st century of indulgence.

Death and the Maiden

By Ariel Dorfman. Sydney Theatre Company / Melbourne Theatre Company. Wharf 1 Theatre. August 28 – October 17, 2015

Ariel Dorfman’s 1991 classic is a chillingly balanced, deliciously dialectical three-hander about the human and moral compromises made in Chile after the bloody Pinochet regime.  It’s relevance today is still sharp as a tack, much as this cramped and flaccid MTC/STC co-production works to blunt it.

One Africa

2015 Boite Millenium Chorus. Directed by Lamine Sonko in collaboration with choir director Andrea Khoza. Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne. 30 August, 2015

Each year this project manages the colossal task of bringing together a range of African musical talent both locally and abroad to celebrate the magic and spectacular vibrancy of African song, music and dance. The showcase of diverse styles of musical traditions makes for an unforgettable event. 300 singers with a passion for African rhythms form the chorus and support the vast array of performers in this magnificent display of African culture. The choir is made up of community groups and students from all over Victoria who are a central part of this spiritually uplifting experience.

Into The Woods

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Dramatic Productions. Director Richard Block. Gungahlin College Theatre. Aug 28 – Sep 12, 2015

“Happily ever after, schmappily ever after” and “be careful what you wish for” are the messages of this light-hearted production of the classic musical Into the Woods. An excellent cast, colourful costuming, an imaginative set, a tight orchestra and a particularly maudlin looking papier mâché cow on wheels ever all add up to great fun.

Let The Sunshine

By David Williamson. Villanova Players. Ft Berrell Auditorium, State High School, Yeronga (Qld). 28 Aug – 12 Sep 2015.

David Williamson writes what he knows, the Australian middle-class canapés and claret set, and he writes it very well.

Betrayal

By Harold Pinter. Melbourne Theatre Company presents a State Theatre of South Australia Production. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. 26 August – 3 October 2015.

Emma (Alison Bell), married to Robert (Mark Saturno), and Jerry (Nathan O’Keefe), married to Judith (never seen), have an affair.  The play begins, however, with all passion spent: their affair is cold and over and only awkwardness and deceit linger on.  Betrayal is the story of that affair, but told backwards so that, from the start, the question is not ‘what happened’ but ‘how’.

Mothers and Sons

By Terrence McNally. Directed by Sandra Bates. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. August 21 - September 27, 2015

Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons is, in essence, a sequel to his 1990 TV drama Andre’s Mother, which won him an Emmy award. Unfortunately, like many sequels, this play falls flat.

It’s now a quarter of a century since Andre died and his mother Katharine (Anne Tenney) pays a visit to the man who would have been her son-in-law, Cal (Jason Langley). Andre was killed by AIDS and his mother continues to mourn him – but she also still struggles to accept he was gay.

7 Deadly Sins

Ballet by Natalie Weir. Expressions Dance Company. Playhouse, QPAC. 21-29 August 2015

The seven deadly sins have been portrayed in ballet form for many years, the first when George Balanchine created a ballet to music by Kurt Weill with text by Bertolt Brecht (their final collaboration), in 1933. Kenneth MacMillan put his stamp on it in 1961, and later Pina Bausch in 1976, so it’s no surprise Natalie Weir visits the subject for Expressions Dance Company in her latest work.

Verdi’s Requiem

State Opera of South Australia. Adelaide Festival Theatre. August 26 and 28, 2015

In the midst of a 2015 season dedicated to love, and interspersed with its current production of Faust, the State Opera of South Australia has pulled a wildcard out of the hat with two nights of the hundred-minute choral masterpiece that is Italian composer Verdi’s Requiem or Mass for the Dead.

Staged for two nights only, the performance was a fine melding of the indefatigable State Opera Chorus, the superb Adelaide Symphony orchestra and four wonderful South Australian operatic voices.

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