Reviews

Honour

By Joanna Murray-Smith. Villanova Players. Director: Cameron Gaffney. F.T. Barrell Auditorium, Yeronga, Qld. August 26 – September 10, 2017

Although it’s set in the rarified atmosphere of book launches, poetry authors and literary criticism, Joanna Murrey-Smith’s Honour trades in more down-to-earth dramatic tropes; that of a husband’s mid-life crisis which fractures his marriage.

George (Richard Yaxley), a distinguished literary journalist falls for an ambitious 28-year old biographer Claudia (Olivia Pinwell) and walks out on his 32-year marriage to the devastating shock of his long-standing wife Honor (Meg Hinselwood) and the disgust of his student daughter Sophie (Issy Mowen).

Les Misérables

By Claude-Michel Schonberg & Alain Boublil. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo. Music: Claude-Michel Boublil. Lyrics: Herbert Kretzmer. Ipswich Musical Theatre. Director: Christopher Bradtke. Musical Director: Robert Clark. Choreography: Ruth Gabriel. Civic Centre, Ipswich. 8-17 September 2017

Ipswich Musical Theatre’s production of Les Misérables was top of the range community theatre – thrilling, emotional and exciting. I have rarely heard the show sung as well, nor has there been so much clarity in the story as there was in Christopher Bradtke’s concise direction. Bradtke, who’s Melbourne based and who recently directed the show for CLOC (who provided the set and costumes for this production), brings his considerable expertise and theatrical savvy to the project.

Dreamgirls

Book and Lyrics by Tom Eyen. Music by Henry Krieger. Rockdale Musical Society. Director Rod Herbert, Musical Director Anthony Cutrupi and choreographer Joseph Nalty. Rockdale Town Hall. September 7 – 18, 2017.

Rockdale Musical Society has pulled off a daunting task which professional producers have shied away from – the NSW Premiere of hit 1981 Broadway musical Dreamgirls.

Good Grief

By Keith Waterhouse. Centenary Theatre Group. Director: Cam Castles. Chelmer Community Centre, Chelmer, Qld. 9-30 September 2017

Grief is something we all encounter and all deal with in our own way. June Pepper, the protagonist in Keith Waterhouse’s play Good Grief, based on his comic novel of the same name, finds that swigging a bottle of vodka and eating mint Aero chocolate helps her through the pain of losing her tabloid-editor husband Sam. In fact his instruction to her following his death was for her to write a daily diary which takes the form of direct monologues to the audience.

 

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Paul Treasure. Roleystone Theatre, WA. Sep 1-9, 2017

Roleystone Theatre presented a kilted, strong and emotive interpretation of the Scottish play, with some fresh approaches and innovative direction.

The wyrd sisters are a more modern trio, with a multigenerational coven. Penny Ramsell, Bonni Rae Bruce and Nicquelle Rhodes, each representing a different era, work well together and help to facilitate the mysterious events in the ‘past’.  

Strong performances from Joel Sammels in the title role and Melinda Sklenars as Lady Macbeth. There was a lovely truth to their performances and their relationship.

Anno Zombie 

Baggage Productions. Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran. Sep 6 – 16, 2017

Being trapped in David Jones when the Zombie Apocalypse hits Melbourne is not all bad – at least they have a food court.

Presented by Baggage Productions, this latest work by Bridgette Burton has a selection of characters trapped in DJs, watching the zombie horde outside through the front windows.

The first entrance and appearance of the cast was clever and received probably the loudest laugh of the night. After that it really struggled to live up to the advertising as a “Zom Com”, with very few laugh out loud moments.

Big Heart

By Patricia Cornelius. Directed by Susie Dee. Theatre Works, Acland Street, St Kilda. 6 – 24 September 2017

A wealthy but childless woman adopts five babies: from Vietnam, Nicaragua, Sudan, Bosnia and Australia.  She has a big heart.  Thus begins Patricia Cornelius’ and Susie Dee’s layered, ironic, subtly angry take on colonialism, privilege and the idea of ‘motherhood’.  But this writer and this director are too smart and too skilled in theatre craft to present a polemic or a tract.  Big Heart is ambivalent, ambiguous and deeply unsettling.  A hush falls over the audience; we are still.  We can see what’s happening, we understa

Dracula

Shake and Stir. Space Theatre, Adelaide. September 7 – 16, 2017.

I have always believed that Dracula is a classic tale of horror that should not be altered in any way; it is perfect. That is until I saw Shake and Stir’s production of Dracula.

Shake and Stir have crafted a careful adaption that is slick and owes much of its impact to the Grand Guignol tradition, made famous in Paris in the 19th and 20th centuries for its realistic depiction of graphic murders.

Miss W Treads

Written & directed by Jane Woollard. La Mama Theatre, Carlton VIC. 6 – 17 September 2017

Eliza Winstanley was a Sydney actress and star of the Australian theatre in the 1830s who later went on to ‘tread the boards’ in the UK and the USA, and became a writer, editor and novelist.  Jane Woollard’s play about her life, Miss W Treads, employs the framing device of a playwright, Imogene (Ruby Johnson), researching and struggling to write a play about Winstanley’s life.  Although seemingly blocked, Imogene feels such an intense connection – or identification - with her subject that Winstanley (Fanny Hanusin) – and her Irish husba

Sunday in the Park with George

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Little Triangle / Sydney Fringe. The Depot Theatre, Marrickville. September 6 – 16, 2017.

The Depot Theatre’s intimate space works a treat in so many ways for Sunday in the Park with George, notably in the show’s sometimes problematic second act, where adept inclusive direction sweeps the audience up into the gallery opening of the middle scene.

Alexander Andrews’ production feels less than a hair’s breadth from being immersive.

So connected are we in act 1, that we might well be the water lapping at the shore of the island on which the action is taking place.

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