The Trouble With Harry

By Lachlan Philpott. MKA; Theatre of New Writing and Darebin Arts Speakeasy in Association with Melbourne Festival. October 18 – November 9, 2014.

MKA’s rise in the Melbourne Theatre scene has been meteoric.  Over the period of the past three or so years they have produced much interesting, stimulating and refreshing theatre.  This is no exception and a fine achievement.

The Trouble with Harry explores the scandalous subject matter surrounding the transgender life of Eugenia Falleni,who lived as Harry Crawford. Her story was brought to the public eye through a salacious murder case in 1920.

Angel Gear

By Sven Swenson. La Boite and Pentimento Productions, with the support of QPAC. Roundhouse Theatre. 14 October – 8 November 2014

You need physical and moral fortitude to survive this show. It plays 2.5 hours (including a 20 minute interval).

Those who know any of Swenson’s earlier plays will appreciate his edgy style. This family of nine is clearly dysfunctional. They have no respect or support for each other in their amoral lifestyle. I’d describe the first act as a family drama and certainly the final half hour as a thriller. I suspect those of you who endure the final 30 minutes will come away feeling emotionally wrung out!

Happy People in Concert

Music, Lyrics and Book by Matthew Lee Robinson. Directed by Chris Parker. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). October 18 & 19, 2014.

It’s probable that New York City will see a full production of Happy People before Australia does, but for those of us lucky to have seen the concert version, we can at least gloat a little that the fabulous composer/lyricist/librettist and his superb cast are Australian.

My Lover's Bones

From a story by Cameron Costello. Brown Cab Productions.. Melbourne Festival. Footscray Community Arts Centre – 45 Moreland Street Footscray. 14 – 18 October, 2014

My Lover’s Bones is a contemporary interpretation of a very old story of an Aboriginal youth trapped by his own sorry misadventure.  It is a haunting tale of a young hunter leaving the comfortable intimacy of his lover’s embrace when lured by the call of the hunt.   

As a darkly fascinating reinterpretation of a retelling of a Bunyip story, by Cameron Costello a Ouandamooka man, it reverberates with the mystery of an absorbing multi-layered tale, mesmerizing, dark and rewarding.  

Where I End & You Begin

By Cathy Petőcz. Directed by Caroline Stacey. The Street Theatre. World Premiere. 18 – 26 October 2014.

Visually beautiful, darkly poetic, wryly self-referential, Where I End & You Begin is a surreal, highly stylised play exploring personhood, memory and identity. Ostensibly about two private detectives in an undefined science fiction space setting, the writing has roots in the absurdist theatre of the last century, such as Brecht, Beckett and Ionesco, with nods to Terry Gilliam and scriptwriter Charlie Kaumann. As with all absurdist theatre the fun is in working out what it all means. The audience brings their own experience and will come out with differing interpretations.

My Fair Lady

Music: Frederick Loewe. Book & Lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Directed by Barry Hill. The Metropolitan Musical Theatre Co of SA. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. 16-25 October 2014

The Met’s latest production of My Fair Lady is “comfort theatre” of the highest order. Rather like a well-cooked Sunday roast… it is a nice, safe, conventional interpretation of an established favourite, that does little surprising or inventive with Lerner & Lowe’s beloved musical. But it is nonetheless a deeply satisfying experience, because every aspect of the production has been crafted with meticulous care by a team working at the top of their game.

Jesus Christ Superstar

By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Willoughby Theatre Company. The Concourse Theatre, Chatswood. October 15 – 26, 2014.

The original rock opera has been freshened up with a striking visual makeover at Willoughby Theatre Company. Somehow the synthesis of Steam Punk costuming elements, the modern industrial look of Megadeck scaffold sets, and gothic influences in architecture, costuming and make-up, blend, ultimately turning possible contradictions into synergies, for a Jesus Christ Superstar in a contemporary alternate sub-culture. Throwing some spectacular contemporary rock theatrical lighting into the mix completes an exciting stage picture.

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)

By Sarah Ruhl. National University Theatre Society (NUTS). Directed by Dylan van den Berg. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre. October 1-4 2014

This play is possibly the most hilariously awkward and excruciatingly funny experience you’ll have in the theatre.

Why awkward? Three words: On Stage Orgasms. Dozens of them, I kid you not, each more intimate than the last. No intimate detail is shirked. Each big O is followed by—oh, my labyrinthitis-afflicted aunt—a ritual washing of the hands.

Bonnie and Clyde

Book by Ivan Menchell. Music by Frank Wildhorn. Lyrics by Don Black. Directed by Hamish Anderson. FabNobs – Bayswater (Vic). October 10 – 25, 2014

There has been a plethora of “flop” musicals in Melbourne over the past few months. But “Flop” doesn’t automatically mean bad – as the wonderful Parade showed us. Add to the ‘pleasant surprise’ list Bonnie and Clyde, a musical I knew nothing about until this week. It has a good score, intelligent lyrics, a pretty impressive book, and you know when FabNobs do something, it’s going to be an enjoyable production.

Sunset Boulevard

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton. Based on the Billy Wilder Film. Directed by Stephen Pike. Musical direction by Sharon Tree. The Q – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. October 8 – 25, 2014.

Sunset Boulevard is a challenging musical to stage and it is to the credit and strength of the Q Team that they have chosen this work.

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