Reviews

The Man Who Planted Trees

Adapted and performed by Richard Medrington and Rick Conte. Puppet State Theatre Company. Arts Centre Melbourne. April 10 – 14, 2013

A charming and challenging story told with exceptional skill.

There is little mystery in this performance, the title says it all; there was a man who planted trees plentifully and persistently. What the performance does give us is a way to appreciate his motivation and the astonishing environmental and social impact of his ongoing act of grace and generosity.

IDENTITÉ

Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane. Flipside Circus. 10 -13 April, 2013

This show has the WOW! Factor.

A mix of amazing talents and mostly familiar circus skills presented with a twist: gymnastics and tumbling; juggling; human pyramids; trapeze; hula hoops; ingenious choreography; popular classical music and a great sense of fun and entertainment, IDENTITÉ is an hour of delight.

At times, acts incorporate potential danger that freeze us momentarily, then release our amazement at how skilfully the death-defying moment was avoided. (This company works with a mat but no safety nets.)

Assassins

Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by John Weidman. Directed by Tyran Parke. Fortyfivedownstairs Melbourne. 11 – 21 April, 2013

Sondheim is the master of the musical and this little seen dark comedy is delightful in its score. The plot revolves around some of the most and least infamous would-be Presidential assassins in US history. Some names you will know, John Wilkes Booth and John Hinckley, and others are less well known.

It’s My Party (and I’ll Die If I Want To)

By Elizabeth Coleman. HIT Productions. Glen Street Theatre. April 10 – 20, 2013

It’s hard to tell whether this play was written as a comedy or a farce – and this production doesn’t make the confusion any clearer!

It has a competent cast including the necessary ‘star’ – Henri  Szeps – that is needed by a touring production to attract audiences.

It has a good set, cleverly designed for touring by Shaun Gurton. A photographic backdrop surround of a red brick suburban homesets the scene, the stage itself a sparsely furnished living room with a large wall clock, essential to the action.

Dance Better at Parties

By Gideon Obarzanek. Sydney Theatre Company. Wharf 2 Theatre. April 3 – May 11, 2013.

This compassionate two-hander about why a bloke wants to learn ballroom dancing was one of the stories used by choreographer Gideon Obarzanek in his 2004 dance work with Chunky Move, I Want To Dance Better At Parties.

Now no longer running his Melbourne-based dance company, Obarzanek returns to this story for what is his first text based work.

 

One Scientific Mystery or Why Did The Aborigines Eat Captain Cook?

By Victoria Haralabidou. TAP Gallery. April 9 – 14, 2013.

Victoria Haralabidou's first play is full of mystery and is an interesting attempt at exploring fleeting relationships between human beings and our need to connect and be connected.

Staged at the Tap Gallery (which can only be described as one of the last bastions of fringe theatre and art in Sydney) this production has a top-notch cast and crew.

People

By Alan Bennett. National Theatre Live (cinema screening of Britain's National Theatre production). Participating cinemas nationwide on April 20 and 21.

Set in a decaying stately home in Yorkshire, Alan Bennett's People is the story of former model Dorothy Stacpoole, who must decide what is to become of the place now she's unable to maintain it in her old age. Her archdeacon sister wants it to go to the National Trust but Dorothy is horrified by the idea, preferring to entertain the thought of selling to a shadowy group of investors on the promise that they will keep the public out ("PST - People Spoil Things" is the credo of their oily representative).

A Clockwork Orange

By Anthony Burgess. Directed by Alexandra Spencer-Jones. Action To The Word. The Malthouse, Melbourne, from April 9, 2013; Seymour Centre, Sydney from April 23; Subiaco Arts Centre (WA) from May 7; The Playhouse, Canberra from May 22 and Cremorne Theatre, QPAC (ALd) from May 28.

I’ve been struggling to find the words to review something, which is so visually simple, and yet so utterly compelling. When Anthony Burgess wrote his novella A Clockwork Orange over 50 years ago he had no idea the impact and cult following his tiny text would have.

PR!CK The Musical.

Written by Tracy Harvey. Directed by Pip Mushin. The Flying Saucer Club (Vic). April 5 – 14, 2013. As part of MICF.

The title is provocative and very funny. The show is also very funny, but nowhere near as provocative despite having a storyline that involves a hero with a broken penis, a heroine who is plain (not really) but blossoms,  and a bum doctor who secretly lusts for  a twittery busted…..sorry, bitter and twisted…nursing manager who turns out to have given away their baby…who in turn, turns out to be……No, I’m not going to spoil it for you.

Cinderella

Music: Sergei Prokofiev. Choreography: Ben Stevenson. Conductor: Andrew Mogrelia. Queensland Ballet. Playhouse, QPAC, 5-20 April, 2013

Queensland Ballet started off its year with Cinderella and judged by the audience response it was a popular choice. The season had been sold-out before it began.

The first ballet under the leadership of its new artistic director, Li Cunxin, this production of Cinderella was created in 1970 by Ben Stevenson for National Ballet in Washington DC, who has been present in Australia during the restaging by Texas Ballet Theatre’s Tim O’Keefe.

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