Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Coopers Malthouse. Mar 30 – April 22, 2017

SOAP’s international reputation is completely deserved.  The capacity audience at the Malthouse were greeted with a set of seemingly empty claw-footed bathtubs arrayed on different levels….and the audience was immediately captured as performers arose from the tubs and danced their way through a bath-time routine, with accompaniment from an operatic soprano – the ultimate singer in the shower! 

Ellie, Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt).

By Monica Zanetti. Feet First Ventures & The Depot Theatre. March 28 – April 9, 2017

A charming light hearted romantic comedy written and directed by Monica Zanetti.

Zanetti’s story is of a teenage girl Ellie (Sophie Hawkshaw) coming to terms with her sexuality and her desire to ask her friend Abbie (Geraldine Viswanathan) as her date to the school formal, prompted by her dead aunt (Monica Zanetti), whom only Ellie can see. With Meagan Caratti playing her bewildered mother and Margi de Ferranti playing a dual role of Patty and Ellie’s teacher. A funny light hearted delight at The Depot Theatre. Well directed, with an excellent ensemble cast.

Minefields and Miniskirts

Written by Siobhan McHugh: Adapted by Terence O’Connell. Directed by Bronwyn Morrow, Arts Theatre, Brisbane. April 8 – April 29, 2017.

The Vietnam War remains in our memories for that generation and this play gives another perspective on what occurred in the battle zone and back in Australia. Unfortunately many remember the reception the returning soldiers received without actually understanding what horrors most of them had gone through in the conflict zone. Even more disturbing is the lack of understanding of the roles women played in Vietnam.

Shirley Gnome - Taking it up the Notch

Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Butterfly Club. April 3 – 16, 2017

Arriving on stage in a frilled, sequined and bedazzled country-singer-manqué creation, complete with sequined hat, Canadian cabaret comedian Shirley Gnome captured her audience in a heartbeat opening with a song about, well, taking things up the notch. 

She breathlessly shared the news about her recent signing to the largest independent record label in Canada, vowing to spend the advance by coming to Australia, before the record label “realised what it was they had bought”.

Les Misérables

By Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer Free-Rain Theatre Company.. Director Dr Cate Clelland. The Q – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. April 4 – 12, 2017

Free-Rain’s gutsy take on Les Misérablesmade me fall in love with this wonderful score again. With a somewhat pared-back treatment, this production emphasises the moral dilemmas and social commentary. Peter Cousens makes a conflicted Valjean, with “Valjean’s Soliloquy” an early highlight. Tony Falla (Javert) is initially overshadowed but comes into his own by “Javert’s Soliloquy”. Fantine (Amy Dunham) pours anguish into a heart-wrenching ‘I Dreamed a Dream”.

Double Denim

Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Belleville, Globe Alley, Melbourne. March 28 – April 4, 2017. Extra show now added - April 21 at 11pm.

Tucked into one of Melbourne’s laneways, Belleville has several odd little performance spaces, including the one chosen for Michelle Brasier and Laura Frew, the cast of Double Denim, a slightly claustrophobic little stage and stairway – which turned out to be perfect for their manic brand of up-close comedy, which is joyously silly. 

Trotsky and Friends

Written & Directed by Brendan Black. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton VIC. 5-16 April 2017.

In Travesties, Tom Stoppard put together historical figures who really were in the same place at the same time: James Joyce, Vladimir Lenin, Nadya Krupskaya, and Tristan Tzara in Zurich in 1917 – that is, during The Great War.  With Trotsky and Friends, Brendan Black discovered that a raft of famous people all were – or could’ve been - in Vienna in 1913.


By Jonathan Biggins. Sydney Theatre Company. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. April 3 to May 20, 2017

Jonathan Biggins’ compelling and entertaining play traverses three newsrooms simultaneously, coping with, or covering the unfolding drama that takes place when a talk-back radio host hijacks his own radio station.

The cracking set design by Mark Thompson depicted all three spaces at once.


By Louis Nowra. Lane Cove Theatre Company. April 6 to 9, 2017.

Lane Cove Theatre Company's Cosi was an entertaining night, with plenty of laughs flowing from Louis Nowra's script.

This piece of theatre offers lots of dramatic moments individually for each character, though director Debbie Smith, didn't seem to highlight these moments, focusing more on the comical elements.

The Popular Mechanicals

By Keith Robertson, William Shakespeare and Tony Taylor. State Theatre Company of South Australia / Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Sarah Giles. Wharf 2 Theatre, Sydney. 8 April - 13 May, 2017

Here’s a touring company from Adelaide showing Sydney exactly how to deliver sublime theatrical comedy. The State Theatre Company of South Australia have revived a show first directed by Geoffrey Rush in 1987, and it turns up at the Wharf 2 Theatre as bright as fresh paint. 

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