Reviews

Evolution Revolution and The Mail Order Bride

Written, performed and composed by Zulya Kamalova. Directed by Maude Davey. Orchestration and musical direction by Erkki Veltheim. Designed by Adrienne Chisholm. Projections by Michael Carmody. Lighting design by Katie Sfetkidis. At 45 Downstairs until 16 February, 2014. (Vic).

There’s a sparkling gem of an idea camouflaged deep within Evolution Revolution and The Mail Order Bride that deserves further exploration. The essential conflict in its current state is that musically, it is simply stunning, but dramatically, much less so – with a simplistic and perfunctory strain of ‘the wrongs men do’ carried through relentlessly.

PROOF

By David Auburn. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). Director: Sandra Bates. February 5 – March 8, 2014

PROOF plays with the fascinating paradox that while mathematics is a perfect science where one plus one always equals two, in life, problems cannot be resolved as easily as square roots or algebra. Life is messy and doesn’t follow reliable algorithms.

Ensemble Theatre, under the direction of Sandra Bates, earnestly brings David Auburn’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play to life to explore this paradox. Aided in no small part by Matilda Ridgway as Catherine, who is thrilling and delightfully messy for all the right reasons. 

 

Otello

By Guiseppe Verdi. His Majesty's Theatre, Perth WA. Feb 4-11, 2014.

The West Australian Opera presented Verdi's Otello as part of the Perth International Arts Festival. This co-production with Cape Town Opera, New Zealand Opera, Opera Queensland, State Opera of South Australia and Victorian Opera features the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and The West Australian Opera Chorus with guests from the Cape Town Opera Chorus. The cast is renewed in each location.

Carmen

Opera by Georges Bizet. Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. Director, Francesca Zambello. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Feb 3 - Mar 29, 2014.

This is not the showy Gale Edwards on-harbour production of last year, it’s a revival of the Sydney Opera House 2008 production which, the program declares, is based on a Covent Garden and Norwegian National Opera co-production of 2006.

Mixed Doubles

By various authors. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 1 February – 1 March, 2014.

Forrest Gump’s ‘Life is like a box of chocolates’ also describes this marriage-go-round.

Mixed Doublescontains eight longish two-hander sketches about marriage, separated by monologues. It opens with George Melly’s The Vicar. Alex Lanham timed perfectly this homily to a newly married couple, delivered with gravitas. The title of the unfortunate choice of hymn to follow shattered that mood.

Australia Day

By Jonathan Biggins. Queensland Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC. January 27-February 16, 2014

This comedy bites!

Jonathan Biggins’ reputation for biting political satire in the Wharf Revues carries over to this play where he widens his scope to all Aussies. This is clever writing. We recognise ourselves, hear ourselves sounding off, but it may not be what we want to admit to. But I’d be surprised if people don’t go home and think about it for months afterwards.

Private Lives

By Noël Coward. Melbourne Theatre Company. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. 25 January to 8 March, 2014.

Private Lives is an illuminating, eighty-four year-old classic that bobs up in production, here and there, again and again.  It is the simple story of a divorced couple honeymooning, at exactly the same time, with new partners, in adjacent hotel rooms that share a connected balcony.  What ensues is emotional and physical mayhem that highlights the social mores of the 1930’s. At the same time it tenders more than a little insight into the nature of passionate love and its capacity to overwhelm and flail.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.

Directed by Gary Abrahams. Theatre Works, St Kilda (Part of Midsumma Festival). 29 Jan – 8 Feb, 2014

Best known for its 1972 film incarnation, the Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a play by Rainer Werner Fassbinder which takes us inside the life of a fashion designer prone to extreme histrionics. Veering between self-obsessed, arrogant, manipulative, unreasonable, sadistic and thoroughly unsympathetic, Petra von Kant spends most of the play's almost-two-hours swinging wildly from proclamations of love to swearing she hates everyone in sight.

THE SHADOW KING

Co-created by Tom E Lewis & Michael Kantor. Carriageworks Bay 17. 23 to 26 January 2014.

That ‘ol King Lear fella still goin’

The Unexpected Guest

By Agatha Christie. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport (Qld). Director: Andrew Trump. Jan 25th – Feb 15th, 2014.

GCLT’s 2014 season began with the Agatha Christie thriller The Unexpected Guest, regarded by the playwright as one of her favourites.

Director Andrew Trump steered the strong, nine member cast through all the twists expected in a play of this nature with pace and style. Each character was believable – especially when the inevitable finger pointing and accusations started to flow.

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