Reviews

Psycho Beach Party

By Charles Busch. Theatre Works, as part of the Midsumma Festival. January 11 – 19, 2013.

Psycho Beach Party is campy fun with a hip young cast channelling all sorts of B-grade movie characters, and doing it with unfailing energy.

The Cat in the Hat

By Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel). Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. 29 December – 27 January, 2013

This high-energy show for kids aged 3-6 is being performed three times most days throughout January. The cast of six, plus stage management, work hard to great effect for the forty minutes and definitely deserve to have their names announced somewhere. But there are no foyer lists and no programs. Never mind, they are dedicated and keen, and they deliver genuine theatrical entertainment to a silent, packed house of tots, toddlers and juniors.

The Secret River

By Kate Grenville. An adaptation for the stage by Andrew Bovell. Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Festival, Allens (law firm). Director: Neil Armfield. Sydney Theatre. 8 January – 9 February, 2013.

Arriving at the Sydney Theatre for the official first night of The Secret River you can’t miss the poster that declares you’re about to see THE LANDMARK THEATRE EVENT OF 2013. That’s confidence: after all, it’s only January 12.

Jersey Boys

Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Music and lyrics by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe. Princess Theatre Melbourne. From Jan 12, 2013.

“Big Girls Don’t Cry” says the song, but this big girl did at last night’s opening of the return season of Jersey Boys. They were tears of nostalgia and joy for the music that painted the soundscape of my youth.  But Jersey Boys is more than just a compilation of smash hits from the Sixties. It has perhaps the best book of any musical I can think of, and that sets it apart. It has history, and drama and truth (from four different perspectives), stunning dialogue and a great story.

School Dance

By Matthew Whittet. Windmill Theatre / Sydney Festival / Sydney Theatre Company. Director: Rosemary Myers. Wharf 1, Theatre (NSW). January 10 – February 3, 2013.

School Dance is a lot of fun; it encompasses a range of emotions, schoolyard politics, stereotypes, egos and personas that we’ve all known, been a part of, or been on the wrong side of at some stage in our lives.

The premise of this play is that three friends meet outside the school dance and as they wait to go in, they invite us into their world of hormones, angst, fear, home-life, identity and emotion. While I quite liked the play, it was fairly predictable. 

Peter Pan

By J.M. Barrie. Adapted by Tommy Murphy. Director: Ralph Myers.. Set Design by Robert Cousins. Belvoir (NSW) January 9 - February 10, 2013.

The first thing that crossed my mind was how are they going to fly and where will the Pirate ship come from?  The Belvoir Street Theatre was once a tomato sauce factory and has never been converted into a regular theatre with curtains and proscenium.  

The bedroom of Wendy, Michael and John was the one and only set for this production.

On the shelves were board games with no electronic gadgetry in sight (This was the way bedrooms looked like when I was a lad). But how could this be turned into the backdrop for the adventures of Peter Pan?

The Wind in the Willows

By Kenneth Grahame. Glenn Elston / Australian Shakespeare Company. The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. January 4 – 27, 2013.

“That was fun!” A bit understated, but still not a bad review from a six year old, though, for his agehe is a fairly seasoned theatre-goer. The main thing is that he knows the story backwards and was not disappointed about anything being omitted. To be able to include all the main events, even losing little Portly Otter, means that this adaptation doesn’t disappoint kids – or parents, or grandparents – who know the characters and their little idiosyncrasies so well.

Rust and Bone

By Caleb Lewis. Griffin Independent and Stories Like These. SBW Stables Theatre (NSW). January 12 – February 2, 2013.

Peter Gahan and Luke Rogers explain that Stories Like These is “dedicated to creating imaginative, challenging and compelling theatre with a commitment to Australian artists and voices”. Rust and Bone is all of the above. It is adapted by celebrated Australian playwright Caleb Lewis from the writing of Craig Davidson. It is directed by young South Australian theatre practitioner, Corey McMahon, and demands challenging performances from its three actors, Wade Briggs, Renato Musolino and Sam Smith.

Out Damn Snot

La Boite and Shake and Stir (Qld). Roundhouse Theatre, 8-19 February, 2013.

Interest in this show began building from November last year. I can’t recall a premiere that attracted such anticipation, or such an overflow audience! 

Not unlike Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Mackenzie, Kimmy and Heath are transported into a fantastic place where they meet amazing characters before they return to reality. 

La bohème

Opera by Giacomo Puccini. Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Director: Gale Edwards. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. December 31, 2012 to Mar 21, 2013

The bittersweet bohemian lifestyle of 1830s Paris, background for Puccini’s great opera, is relocated to 1920s Berlin in Gale Edwards’ production now returning with new principals to the Sydney Opera House. The move between centuries and European capitals brings significant benefit. Puccini’s six ‘arty brats’ seem under even more pressure to join an even nastier mainstream society.

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