Reviews

The Sea Project

By Elise Hearst. Arthur and Griffin Independent (NSW). SBW Stables Theatre. September 5 – 29, 2012.

What if you found yourself washed ashore in a foreign country, rescued by a stranger, with no recollection of your past and an unsettling feeling about your future? That is the premise of the latest offering from Griffin Independent and Arthur.

Although Elise Hearst's script sounds like a play about the politics of asylum seekers, it really isn't as such. It's more about the inspiration of renewal and the possibility of reinvention. It's bold and interesting writing that often leaves the audience on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next.

Widow Bird

By Emma Gibson. The Street Theatre. Childers Street, Action Canberra. World Premiere. 8 – 16 September, 2012.

In this fantasy, a young woman discovers her tears heal people, even from death. She leaves her village to offer her services to the kingdom, but finds herself enslaved and forced to resurrect soldiers in an endless war. This ambitious play explores themes of self-sacrifice, emotions versus rationality, the roles of the sexes, and social power. Gibson combines elements borrowed from Greek tragedy, medieval morality tale and folk stories to make an interesting and creative piece in the tradition of magical realism.

 

I Want to Sleep with Tom Stoppard

By Toby Schmitz. Tamarama Rock Surfers. Bondi Pavilion (NSW). 29 August - 22 September, 2012.

It began with a delicious irony. The characters ridicule the proliferation of middle class dramas set in a kitchen.... all said in a scene set in a kitchen. It set the tone for a wicked comedy.

Luke (Tom Stokes) has invited his older actress girlfriend Sarah (Caroline Brazier) to a dinner party from hell at his parent’s place. 

Jackie (Wendy Strehlow) and Tom (Andrew McFarlane), like upper class middle characters in a David Williamson play, are into yoga and collecting battleships.

Rowan Atkinson Tribute Show

Writers: Rowan Atkinson, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton. Bordello Theatre, Kings Cross Hotel. 5 September, 2012 (then Wednesday nights until November 28).

Producing a tribute show to one of the greatest comics of our time is a mixed challenge.  On one hand, you have the advantage of availing yourself of the genius writing of Richard Curtis, Ben Elton and Atkinson himself and also the audience goodwill therein.  On the other, you have the daunting task of being compared to Atkinson’s physical brilliance, pratfalls and comic timing.

Happy Ending

By Melissa Reeves. Melbourne Theatre Company (Vic). Lawler Studio, Southbank Theatre. Director: Susie Dee. Set and Costume Designer: Andrew Bailey. Mandarin Coach: Melodie Yingxiu Shen. 5 – 22 September, 2012.

Forty-something Louise (Nell Feeney) is happily married (more-or-less), but has developed an infatuation with her young Chinese masseur, Lu (Gareth Yuen). After months of massages, sometimes two a day, Louise confides in her coffee companion Lilliana (Roz Hammond) that she wants to consummate her desire, and sets about getting closer to Lu.

Award-winning playwright Melissa Reeves has crafted a well-balanced and entertaining script, interweaving English and Mandarin dialogue, and highlighting cultural sensitivities and etiquette in both cultures.

Joanne’s Real World

The Butterfly Club. South Melbourne. Director: Petra Glieson. September 4 to 9, 2012.

Joanne (Taylor Klas) is a polyester-clad woman with a sharp tongue and withering stare behind her glasses, a public servant with seemingly no compassion for the down-at-heel clients she is meant to be helping. Through songs and stories in this clever cabaret there emerges a woman who has sacrificed dreams out of a fear of one day finding herself on the wrong side of her Centrelink desk.

RRAMP

The Collector, the Archivist and the Electrocrat. Devised and Performed by Christine Johnston, Lisa ONeill, Peter Nelson, Animation - Ahmarnya Price, Video Production – Jen Jackson, Costume Design and Construction – Selene Cochrane, Lighting Design – David Walters, Production Stage Manager – Leila Maruan. Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall (Vic). 5 – 8 September, 2012.

Put simply, RRAMP is a beautifully produced quirky, eccentric collection of animated (Ahmarnya Price) love stories, mostly about chooks, seamlessly presented by the extraordinary Collector (Christine Johnston) with the assistance of her tenants the dancing Archivist (Lisa O’Neil) and musician Electrocrat (Peter Nelson). 

Rhinestone Rex & Miss Monica

By David Williamson. Ensemble Theatre Production Gardens Theatre, Brisbane. Director: Sandra Bates. 4-6 September 2012 (Touring Nationally)

The touring production of the Ensemble Theatre’s 2011 hit two-hander play by David Williamson features Alexander Fowler as Monica and original cast member Glenn Hazeldine as Gary/Rhinestone Rex.

En Suite

By Joe O’Byrne. Villanova Players (Qld). The Theatre, Morningside, Brisbane, 31 August - 15 September, 2012

En Suite in the hands of Villanova came across as a slight play whose virtues were not fully realized. First produced by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 2002, Joe O’Byrne’s work was irreverent, humorous and glib, but a piece that lacked any real heart. The fact that Samantha Tierney’s production was plodding rather than pacy did not help.

In regional Ireland, Evelyn Dwyer runs a bed and breakfast with her two daughters, Ella, a lesbian, and the heavily pregnant unmarried, Emer.

The Kitchen Sink

By Tom Wells. Red Stitch Actors Theatre (Vic). 31 August – 22 September, 2012

Tom Wells’ The Kitchen Sink gets the balance just right: narrative, acting, stagecraft.  It is engaging despite its low pace, and warming for its emotional honesty.  Director Terence O’Connell has done the company proud with his directorial debut for the Red Stitch Actors Theatre.

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