Reviews

Sleeping Beauty in the Wood

By Tony Nicholls. Directed by Carole Dhu. Pinjarra Town Hall, Pinjarra, WA. July 5-6, 2013

Prima Donna Productions is predominantly a youth theatre company, which has become quite a presence in the Murray district in the past ten years. Featuring kids from 7 to 18 in this production, the emphasis is on involvement and all in the cast of over thirty performers demonstrated an excellent on-stage commitment.

This WA written pantomime, by Tony Nicholls, was localised even further with a clever dig at neighbouring town Dwellingup. A contender for an award for the most complex plot in panto history, the story was effectively conveyed and the audience kept well entertained.

Tosca

By Giacomo Puccini. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. July 6 – August 31, 2013.

The Plot

Puccini’s opera, adapted from a play by French playwright Soudain, and first performed in 1900, is set in Rome in 1800 as Napoleon’s troops approach to free Rome from the long and tyrannical rule of the Kingdom of Naples.

Angelotti, who has just escaped from prison, hides in the Attavanti chapel of the Sant’Andrea dell Valle church. When he emerges, the artist Mario Cavaradossi, who is completing a painting of Mary Magdalene in the church, agrees to help him escape but tells him to hide when Tosca approaches.

The Dragon

By Evgeny Shwarz. Adapted by Toby Schmitz. Music and Lyrics by Tripod. Directed by Marion Potts. Malthouse – Merlyn Theatre. June 27 - July 27, 2013

Take the wonderfully creative and naïve talents of TRIPOD (the Dragon), add an absolutely stupendous performance, perfectly crafted by Kim Gyngell (the Mayor), the usual stellar work from Nikki Shiels,  a great supporting cast, an adaptation by the amazing Toby Schmitz, an innovative revolve set by Anna Tregloan, and you would be justified in expecting a brilliant night of amazing theatre. Right? Wrong!

Tape

By Stephen Belber. Broken Mirror Productions (Vic). Douglas Montgomery: Director / Designer. Broken Mirror, Upstairs 2c Staley St, Brunswick. 3-13 July, 2013

Tape, an enthralling one-act play by Stephen Belber (The Laramie Project), draws the audience voyeuristically under its spell, and into the lives of its three characters.

Premiering at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in 2000, it was subsequently made into a film in 2001, directed by Richard Linklater starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Robert Sean Leonard.

Hipbone Sticking Out

By Scott Rankin. Big hART and the Roebourne community. Directed by Scott Rankin. Canberra Theatre. 3–6 July 2013.

This lengthy, somewhat multimedia work calls our attention to a range of historical injustices and to the manner in which massacre was dressed up as justice, and does so with admirable appeal to our better natures.

The Force of Destiny

By Giuseppe Verdi. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. June 29 - July 23, 2013.

Fancy staging a new production of a classic and setting it in the period which it is written. It’s almost revolutionary in Australian theatreat the moment, where transplanting the time and context of a text isnow de rigueur.

And yet here was a production faithfully set in 19thCentury Europe, as written, that was every bit as fresh and shocking as one would wish from a contemporary performance. In this case as fresh as a wound which will not heal.

ALIEИATION

Theatre Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA, Perth, WA June 29 –. July 13, 2013.

As patrons enter the auditorium to see Perth Theatre Company’s ALIEИATION, they find a note on their seats.

“Note from Lachlan Philpot

I would like to acknowledge the people who bravely shared their stories and the actors and creative artists who contributed to this work in good faith.

However, the outcome of this production does not reflect my original, scripted or communicated intentions as the playwright.”

Originally billed as the author of this work, Lachlan Philpot’s name does not appear in the program.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

By Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn. Directed by Ryan Taafe. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana WA. June 14-29, 2013

Set at a school spelling bee, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee uses selected audience participants to fill out the number of spellers, so I had the rare experience of appearing on stage in a show I was reviewing.

The Audience

By Peter Morgan. Australian cinema screenings by National Theatre Live. Director: Stephen Daldry. From 5 July, 2013.

Going to your local cinema for a live sports broadcast made money for the promoters. As did a pre-recorded as-live rock concert or a New York opera production. Then came straight theatre events. The future arrived bigtime when The Audience went live from Shaftesbury Avenue to the UK and North America on 13 June.

Day One, A Hotel, Evening

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Black Swan (WA). Directed by Peter Houghton. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA, Perth WA. June 15-30, 2013

Many a play has been written about a love triangle, but Joanna Murray-Smith's Day One, A Hotel, Evening, is moreabout a love "Star of David drawn by an overenthusiastic six year old" a manic tangle of relationships that continues to surprise throughout this 110minute play.

Six very capable actors worked as a tight ensemble to give clarity to this extremely complex plot. Jacob Allan played Ray, who may or may not have just been overseas, may or may not be a paid killer and is married to Rose.

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