Reviews

Quartet

By Sir Ronald Harwood. Centenary Theatre Group (Qld). 2-23 March, 2013

In the late 1990s, Ronald Harwood, obviously beginning to experience scourges of the seventies himself, decided to write a play that would engage the predominantly grey set among theatregoers. In 1999 his four-hander comedy opened on the West End. By 2012 it had been made into a film.

Centenary Theatre Group chose the play prototype to open their 2013 season, little expecting they would be playing against the movie version.

Other Desert Cities

By Jon Robin Baitz. Melbourne Theatre Company (Vic). Southbank Theatre (The Sumner). Director: Sam Strong. Set Designer: Callum Morton. Costume Designer: Esther Marie Hayes. 2nd March – 17 April, 2013.

Couched in real-life events affecting Republicans Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and James Oughton, Other Desert Cities not only explores family politics, but the complexities inherent in families addicted to preserving a public image.

Jon Baitz’s explosive script has the audience eavesdropping on the family reunion of Senator Lyman Wyeth, his wife Polly, their grown-up children Brooke and Trip, and Polly’s sister Silda. When Brooke, a writer, reveals she has written her account of the most painful chapter of the family’s history, all hell breaks loose.

Knee Deep

Casus. The Famous Spiegeltent, Arts Centre Melbourne. March 5 – 17, 2013.

Four circus artists hailing from Queensland (former Circa and Flying Fruit-Fly Circus performers Emma Serjeant, Jesse Scott and Lachlan McAulay, together with Polytoxic’s Natano Fa’anana), form Casus.

Ink & The Unknowns.

Devised, directed and choreographed by Callum Mansfield to music composed by Maitlon Drew. Harvest Rain Theatre. Mina Parade, Brisbane. 27 Feb-2 March 2013

This unusual production is actually a sort of choreography sampler. There is no dialogue – mercifully for the performers, as they dance continually – and hence no plot. (Imaginative people, however, may devise their own story; plenty of clues are there for a variety of narratives.)

Love Song

By John Kovenbach. Stooged Theatre Company (Newcastle, NSW). Civic Playhouse. March 6 – 9, 2013.

If you're feeling down there's a trick you can (supposedly) do to your mind, and that's to smile. Apparently the mere act of turning the corners of your mouth upwards and baring your teeth - while willing your face to feel pleased about something, acts as a nudge to the mood lifting chemicals in our brains and voila! We feel a bit better. 

Well, that's the theory. 

End of the Rainbow

Play by Peter Quilter. QTC & QPAC Production. Director: David Bell. Musical Director: Andrew McNaughton. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane. 2-24 March 2013

When Christen O’Leary belted out “The Trolley Song” towards the end of the first act, the stage lit up, the excitement built and the atmosphere was electric. In that one moment O’Leary captured the performing essence of show-business icon Judy Garland, the subject of British playwright Peter Quliter’s End of the Rainbow. The play set in London in 1968, dealt with the final weeks in the star’s life as she attempted to fulfil an engagement at London’s Talk of the Town struggling with alcohol and pill addiction.

CAVALIA

Creator: Normand Latourelle. Equestrian Director & Choreographer: Benjamin Aillaud. Director, Images & Projection Design: Erick Villeneuve. Composer: Michel Cusson. Choreographer & Staging Artistic Coordinator: Alain Gauthier. Costume Designer: Manon Desmarais. Lighting Designer: Alain Lortie. Set Designer: Marc Labelle. Under the White Bog Top, DFO, Brisbane Airport. 6-31 March 2013.

Breathtaking in its Olympian equestrian skills, Cavalia, a celebration of the relationship between man and horse, galloped into Brisbane last night on the first leg of its Australian tour. With a cast of 42 horses and 36 riders, aerialists, actrobats, dancers and musicians, they brought a new dimension to the art of horsemanship, with a show that also embodied trapeze, rope-twirling, trampoline and bungee jumping. The displays of bare-back riding throughout were thrilling.

Oliver!

By Lionel Bart. St George Theatre Company / Rockdale Musical Society. Hurstville Entertainment Centre. March 1 – 10, 2013.

Dickens’ story of an orphan who finds a loving home, after a detour via London’s 19th century Underbelly, and the songs from Lionel Bart’s musical version, need little introduction.

Darkened in mood for the 1990s Sam Mendes / Cameron Mackintosh production, with atmospheric orchestrations and pruning of its musical comedy elements, it’s now probably closer to a contemporary music theatre piece than the effervescent 1960 original.

Thursday

By Bryony Lavery. World Premiere – co-production by Brink Productions and English Touring Company. Director: Chris Drummond. Norwood Concert Hall – Feb. 25th until March 16th, 2013.

Ultimately a meditation on the fragility of life, Thursday is a riveting piece of theatre, ingeniously designed by Dan Potra and intricately lit by Colin Grenfell. It is inspired by the story of Adelaide woman, Gill Hicks, who lost her legs in the London bombings of 7th July 2005.

The play’s opening sequence offers audiences a simultaneous fly on the wall view of the beginning of the day of each of the characters – three couples and three singles.

BLUE/ORANGE

Written by Joe Penhall. Mockingbird Theatre. Director: Chris Baldock. Broken Mirror Studios, 2C Staley Street, Brunswick. Februuary 28 - March 9, 2013.

When Mockingbird Theatre burst onto the scene last year with The Laramie Project  at Chapel off Chapel, there were some who remained sceptical. After all, Chris Baldock was recreating his award winning production with a new company.

With Blue/Orange, Joe Penhall’s 2000 award winning play, Mockingbird Theatre clearly emphasises its commitment to excellence and lays down the gauntlet to other small theatre companies. What’s more, Chris Baldock cements his position as an exciting director poised to take on all comers.

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