Reviews

Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë, adapted by shake & stir. shake & stir and QPAC production. Riverside Theatre Parramatta. Mar 22 & 23, 2016, and touring.

shake and stircontinues its acclaimed ‘classic’ series with this bleak but beautifully staged adaptation of Emily Brontë’s very grim story of love and loveless-ness  set on the windy Yorkshire moors. Gloom is the dominant mood of the novel and this production does not try to soften the cruelty and jealousy that drove Bronte’s eccentric characters.

Still Alive

Devised by Louise O’Dwyer and Tim Ratcliffe. Directed by Tim Ratcliffe. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. La Mama, Carlton. 23-27 March, 2016

The Greek myth Psyche and Eros is the inspiration for this play; in particular the trials of Psyche in her quest to ascertain the secret mystery of eternal youth. The temptation to be distracted from a quest is particularly elicited through the abstract text in this production. The performance highlights the idiosyncratic nature of a journey characterised by wandering and easily wafts into unexpected psychological territories. Words are used like brittle sound, and they are accompanied by enticing visuals.

Yeah Absolutely

By Anna McCarthy. 30th Melbourne International Comedy Festival. La Mama, Carlton (VIC). 23-27 March 2016.

Two women (Anna McCarthy and Jem Nicholas), in leggings and T-shirts, sit at a theatre dressing room mirror.  One obsessively flosses.  The other worries about her eyebrows.  They are preparing for a show – or in this case a ‘performance’ since that is what the program notes say this show is about. 

Coriolanus

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Michael Jenn. Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA, My Lawley, WA. 11-17 Mar, 2016

WAAPA's Third Year Students brought this less-often-performed Shakespearian tragedy to life with passion, creating a performance that was highly energised, fascinating and moving.

Set on an almost bare set, a beautiful veneer of marble is peeling away to reveal that not all is right in Rome. Chris Brain's set marked the tone for the play as the actors burst onto the stage.

Title character Caius Martius, later Coriolanus, is given great depth by Angus McLarun, who plays this role with determination in a thoughtfully portrayed downfall.

Brain Dump

Written and performed by Ross Noble. Frankston Arts Centre, 18th March, 2016; Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, 24th-25th March; Hamer Hall Arts Centre Melbourne, 27th -28th March, and touring – dates at end of review.

After a filmed start of two 1930s style Chorines, on film, imploring us to turn our mobiles off and don’t take pictures, he hits the stage, set with huge light bulbs, like a whirling dervish. Actually he strolls on casually, but he generates so much electricity that he gives the impression of whirling - or maybe that’s our brains once he starts speaking. “He” is, of course, the world’s best randomist – the Terror of Tyneside, Ross Noble.

The Drowsy Chaperone

Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. Music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. Directed by Crispin Taylor. Geoff Gibbs Theatre, WAAPA, Mt Lawley, WA. 12-19 March 2016

WAAPA's third year Music Theatre students performed The Drowsy Chaperone with relish, seemingly having a ball bringing this Tony Award musical to WA for the first time.

Outstanding performances abounded in this clearly directed, beautifully presented homage to old-style musicals.

Ashley Roussety bonded warmly with the audience in the central role of 'Man in Chair' who shares his love for the 1927 show "The Drowsy Chaperone" as his imagination transforms his apartment into the original staging.

Splendour

By Abi Morgan. Red Stitch. Directed by Jenny Kemp. March 15- April 16, 2016

Red Stitch continues to push the envelope, though its choices of plays may not be to everyone’s taste. Still, it’s marvellous that they continue to give us national premieres of plays we may not otherwise see.

Cats

By Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, David Atkins Enterprises and Base Entertainment Asia in association with The Really Useful Group. Adelaide Festival Theatre. March 18-April 10, 2016, then Perth’s Crown Theatre April 16-May 8.

They say domestic cats have nine lives. I don’t know about that, but I’m fairly certain most people have already had at least one Cats life. Not me though. The current touring production is my very first experience of Cats, despite the various incarnations of this Andrew Lloyd Webber phenomenon over 35 years.

Disaffected

Blacktown Arts Centre. March 17 – 20, 2016

This performance aims to raise awareness of the disastrous effect of climate change on the island nations of the Pacific – who we are urged to see as just that, a nation of islands linked by common heritage. Activist and performer Latai Taumoepeau prefers to think of them as “Oceania: a sea of islands with no borders that were forged apart by colonisation” and are experiencing the worst effects of climate change, though they have contributed least to it.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Jennifer Sarah Dean, presented by Melbourne Shakespeare Company, Testing Grounds, I-23 City Road, Melbourne. 19, 20, 26, 27 March 2016.

This family friendly version of Shakespeare’s enchanting play is treated with ingenuity and enthusiasm. While the text is trimmed the language remains largely intact, and allows the audience the opportunity to engage with both Shakespeare’s poetry and his comic genius.  

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