Reviews

This Storm

Written and directed by Ben Brooker. The Cusack Theatre. Adelaide Fringe. Tuxedo Cat. 12-16 February 2016.

Three short plays; three miniature, rough-hewn gems; three frightening perspectives on what the future in Australia may hold…The Cusack Theatre probably makes any piece of drama it showcases into a work of intensity, but This Storm is a superlatively-crafted piece of writing, under any circumstances, and its staging is enhanced by stunning performances, effectively spartan design, and an outstanding soundtrack.

The Last Time I Saw Richard

By Cat Commander. Adelaide Fringe 2016. Bakehouse Theatre. February 15-27, 2016

One of only eight events to secure a grant through the Adelaide Fringe’s Cultural Fund for this year’s Fringe, the South Australian Premiere of The Last Time I Saw Richard is about people who drift in life. The often hilarious and sometimes poignant work reflects on personal isolation, unfulfilled ambition and the self-perpetuating mistakes we all make.

ABBA Gold

Presented by The Flaming Sambucas. The German Club, Adelaide, February 14, 2016. Goolwa Centenary Hall Theatre, Goolwa, February 20, 2016

Adelaide band, The Flaming Sambucas, deliver a spirited tribute to Sweden’s Fab-Four with ABBA Gold. Michelle Gorgula & Jodie Dry replicate the tight harmonies of Frida and Agnetha with impeccable precision, whilst Terry Nicholas (keyboards) and Michael Potter (guitars) energetically dish out the irrepressible rhythmic hooks that were Bjorn & Benny’s trademark. At times, the quality of impersonation is so eerie that if you were to close your eyes during the performance, you’d be hard pressed to distinguish this from the real thing.

Voyage to the Moon

Victorian Opera and Musica Viva. Director: Michael Gow. Musical Director: Phoebe Briggs. Melbourne Recital Centre, February 15 – 19, 2016, then touring to Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

In the Baroque era copyright was unheard of, and it was common for composers to recycle arias from one opera to another, or borrow one from another composer if they ran out of time. So it was Victorian Opera and Musica Viva came together to create a new Baroque opera, based on an epic poem of the time, and using music borrowed from the same period.

The three male roles were taken by a soprano, mezzo and bass-baritone, with the soprano also becoming the Guardian of the Moon, a female character similar to the Queen of the Night.

The Wedding Singer

Music: Matthew Sklar. Lyrics: Chad Beguelin. Book: Chad Beguelin & Tim Herlihy. Phoenix Ensemble. Director: Alicia Caruana. Musical Direction: Faron Swingler. Choreography: Nicola Crawford. Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh. 5-27 February 2016

The Wedding Singer is a fun show and Phoenix Ensemble’s production of it was fun from start to finish. An affectionate send-up of the eighties, it’s a clever adaptation of the movie on which it is based about a cheesy entertainer who finally gets his waitress. The satire was sharp, the characters instantly recognisable, and the music consistently rocked thanks to some smart musical direction by Faron Swingler and a seven-piece group. It’s Alicia Caruana’s directorial debut and she proved with this outing she was born to sit in the pivotal chair.

Saturday Night Fever

Music and lyrics by The Bee Gees and others. Book by Robert Stigwood, with Bill Oakes. StageArt. Directed by Robbie Carmellotti. Chapel off Chapel. Feb 11th-28th, 2016

StageArt keep raising the bar for Independent Musical theatre: so much so that one wonders, when one looks at how far they have come, just how far they can go. It’s certainly an interesting journey, as are their choices in musicals we haven’t seen before in professional productions.

The beauty of Saturday Night Fever is its demographic appeal. The Bee Gees have written so many songs that are now pop standards and it’s unlikely that anyone in the audience hasn’t been touched by these iconic melodies at some time in their lives.

4000 Miles

By Amy Herzog. Directed by Anthony Skuse. A Critical Stages, Mophead and Catnip Production. The Q, Queanbeyan, February 11 – 13, 2016, and touring.

This intense and moving play was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and it is to the Q Theatre’s credit that they secured this production for a short season. The quality of the acting complements the emotionally-compelling quality of the play, making time pass too quickly.

Mediawhore

Adelaide Fringe. Gluttony – Carry-On. Feb 12th-28th, 2016

In the 21st century we have become a nation obsessed with social media and reality television. Actress and comedian Isabella Valette’s alter ego April Fools is searching for fame and will consider any avenue to get there. Valette’s latest offering does not hold back; impersonations and parodies aplenty keep this show flowing at a rollicking pace.

Barbu Electro Trad

The Royal Croquet Club. The Panama Club. Adelaide Fringe Festival. Feb 14th-March 14th, 2016

A showcase of music, circus antics and eccentric characters make this an event not to be missed. Performed in a large tent within the Royal Croquet Club, enormous video screens either side of the performing space means there is not a bad seat in the house.

Two Brunettes and a Gay

Gluttony – Carry On. Adelaide Fringe Festival. Feb 14th-28th, 2016

A cabaret designed to make you laugh and sing along needs to do just that, but this show never really finds its feet or an appreciative audience. Cabaret performers must work hard to develop a rapport or shows of this nature become laboured and cringe-worthy.

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