Reviews

Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport. Director: James Anderson. August 30th – September 20th, 2014

It’s a shame that more Shakespeare is not included in Community Theatre playbills. James Anderson’s production has assembled a great 15 member cast for this tale of the star-crossed lovers. Jack Harbour and Stephanie Toft take the title roles and are supported by some of the Coast’s most experienced performers:  Tara Page, Noel Thompson, Kate McNair and Joel Beskin leading a worthy band of players.

The production had pace, action and emotion.

The Dream

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare Company. Directed by Peter Evans. Canberra Theatre Centre, 29 August – 13 September; Melbourne Arts Centre, 18 September – 4 October & Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong 8 October, – 11 October, 2014

Director Peter Evans effectively strips the Midsummer out of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, appropriately rebranding the result The Dream. Anything that was lush, green, flamboyant, long-winded, flowery, tenuous or over-the-top has got the chop, giving a feel that if not actually black certainly gives emphasis to darkness and nuances of mystery and mood that you don’t always see in a Midsummer production. This effect is heightened by judicious restructuring.

Spike Heels

Written by Theresa Rebeck. Q44 Theatre Co. and Crazy Chair Productions. Directed by Gabriella Rose-Carter. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). August 27th-Sept 14th, 2014.

A script full of sophisticated witty one-liners, plus a serious subtext, four terrific performances from a highly skilled cast, a director who really knows her stuff, and perhaps the most audience friendly theatre space in Melbourne at Chapel off Chapel (great coffee, a good bar and fabulous leather lounges and designer chairs) make a convincing argument for putting Spike Heels right at the top of your theatre list for the next few weeks. Though this is only Q44’s third show, it’s proving to be a company which sets a high bar in excellence for itself.

Swan Lake

Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Choreography by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. American Ballet Theatre. Queensland Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Ormsby Wilkins. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 28 August 2014.

On their first ever visit to Australia, the American Ballet Theatre proved last night why they are considered one of the best ballet companies in the world with an outstanding production of Swan Lake. In every respect it was an artistic triumph. The opulent settings and costumes, the glorious music, and the finest of classical dance, this was a Swan Lake that feasted the eye and indulged the senses.

Food

Force Majeure and Belvoir. Directed by Kate Champion and Steve Rodgers. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre (The Q). 27–30 August 2014

Live performance’s inherent adventure becomes perceptibly more immediate when the performance draws in a member or two of the audience.  This production draws in the entire audience, making it nearly the most audience-interactive I’ve attended, and unusually adventurous theatre.

 

Beyond Babylon

By Gabriel Bergmoser. Bitten By Productions. The Butterfly Club. Sundays until Sept 13, 2014.

Set in a dysfunctional future time Jericho wakes in his hotel room to find a stranger, Clara, holding him at gunpoint and demanding to know why she should not kill him. He has been declared to be useless to society and, as an enforcer of the ruling cartel, she has been sent to eliminate him. 

The Addams Family

By Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice & Andrew Lippa. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 9 Aug – 13 Sept 2014

The full house for the matinee performance I attended said it all: this show is top entertainment.

It’s not the most original or memorable show. The writers poached from The Rocky Horror Show to introduce a conservative American family into the bizarre Addams family.

The quality of this cast, Laraine Griffith’s direction and Mark Connors’ sterling band backing to it all are the core of this entertainment.

 

Tales of Kabbarli

Written and directed by Geoffrey Sykes. Riverside Theatres Parramatta. August 21 – 23, 2014.

Because of her own commitment to and work with indigenous Australians, Robina Beard feels she is almost channeling Daisy Bates in this one-woman tribute to the Irish immigrant journalist who became the champion of aboriginal people until her death in 1951.

Beard speaks emotionally of the parallels that are apparent in the words written so long ago by Bates and the conditions of aboriginal people today. “What we are doing is still not enough!” she says.

Xanadu

Book by Douglas Carter Beane; Music & Lyrics by Jeff Lynne & John Farrrar. Directed by Ryan Taafe. Musical Direction by Kate McIntosh. Koorliny Arts Centre (WA). 8-23 Aug, 2014

Xanadu was a gloriously camp, extremely fun, very well presented 80s musical that wowed audiences at Koorliny Arts Centre.

Never taking itself seriously, it was fabulously over-the-top and sweetly silly, yet maintained very high production values.

Drue Goodwin was a lovely Sonny, emanating sincerity in this unlikely story. He sung beautifully, made a lovely leading man and paired convincingly with his Goddess love match.

Masterclass

By Terence McNally. Left Bauer Productions. Director: Daniel Lammin. fortyfive downstairs (Vic). Aug 19 – 28, 2014

Masterclass depicts scenes from a masterclass given by the great opera diva, Maria Callas, at the Julliard School of Music in 1971. Apart from Callas we only meet three students and an accompanist.

This is a tour de force for the leading lady as Callas is on the stage for the entire play and Maria Mercedes didn’t blink. Only metres from the audience, she never dropped character and alternatively showed the strength and vulnerability of this operatic icon and her striking good looks mirrored the great diva. She was riveting.

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