Reviews

A Piece for an Odd Place and The Want

By The Stain. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton (VIC) 5 – 8 February 2015

Who are The Stain?  They are, primarily, a rock ‘n’ roll kinda punk band who also incorporate dance, puppetry, burlesque, film and theatre into their act.  And the show does indeed include all these things – and for a show that presents itself as rough around the edges, it exhibits great theatricality, musicianship and focused energy.  In its own queer way, it is very accomplished indeed.  Not quite knowing what to expect, I found myself held, provoked, excited and thoroughly entertained.  My Companion whispered in my ear, ‘I haven&r

Jumpy

By April de Angelis. Directed by Pamela Rabe. MTC. Southbank Theatre, Melbourne. 31st Jan-14th March, 2015

It’s hard to know where to place the blame for this deeply superficial, mildly amusing, production of a West End hit by April de Angelis. Certainly there are problems with the text, which not only doesn’t answer the audience’s questions, but seems unaware of them. Instead, awkwardly imposed shtick takes the place of subtext (one Burlesque dance is hilarious, two is excessive, and three is…well…desperate).

Dream Home

By David Williamson. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: David Williamson. 31 January – 28 March, 2015

David Williamson calls the Ensemble Theatre home. Every year there’s a new Williamson drama/comedy, sometimes more than one. Packed houses and rolling laughter invariably ensue, even when, as of late, his themes have tended towards seriousness (The Jack Manning Trilogy, Nothing Personal, Managing Carmen, etc).

The Process

A Play in Five Dubious Acts. By Ian Robinson. Director – Ian Robinson. La Mama – February 4 -15, 2015

The Process coherently shines a bright light on the outrageously inhumane way we, as a nation, are dealing with Asylum Seekers.  Perhaps it states the obvious and preaches to the converted but it is particularly accessible and has the power to galvanize.  At the very least it should prompt audiences to join Liberty Victoria who deserve much gratitude for sponsoring the play.

Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas

By Dario Fo, translated by Mario Pirovano. Presented by Hoy Polloy & Terra Incognita. At fortyfivedownstairs, Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 4 – 15 February 2015

At the end of his nearly two hours (with a five minute break) alone on a bare stage as the eponymous Johan Padan, Steve Gome is understandably drained and weary.  He delivers this ‘epic monologue’ in a cod Italian accent with relentless, restless, manic energy; he is almost never still.  Everything, every incident, every character in this picaresque counter version of the ‘discovery’ of the Americas by Columbus and his predatory Spaniards, must be acted out, mimed, with much falling down and jumping up.  The words are never enough.  At first this

The Credeaux Canvas

By Keith Bunin. Directed by Ross McGregor. Seymour Centre, Sydney. January 29 – February 14, 2015

The off-Broadway play The Credeaux Canvas has proved popular for small theatre producers in Sydney, having been staged just two years ago. The producer here, Les Solomon, mounted the Australian premiere 14 years ago and liked it so much he decided to bring it back (with co-producer Bryce Hallett).

Like Kenneth Lonergan’s This is Our Youth, this play is set in a Manhattan apartment and primarily concerns three young people, struggling to find their place in the world. They’re close, but willing to betray each other with little hesitation.

Couples

By Phillip A Mayer. Here There & Everywhere Theatre Company. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton (VIC). 30 & 31 January 2015

Couples, a one act ‘comedy/drama’ (as the program calls it), is set in a ‘couples’ retreat’ – a sort of health spa for dysfunctional marriages.  Four couples check in for a weekend of country air, bickering and therapy: Holly and Gary; Phoebe and Steven; Rachel and Mark; and Brittany and Karl.  Their hosts, Dr Edwin and Jessica Bialy, have a pretty rocky relationship too. 

Boston Marriage

By David Mamet. QTC. Director: Andrea Moor. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane, 24 Jan – 15 Feb, 2015

David Mamet’s plays are normally full of foul-language, testosterone-macho braggards, and sizzling word-play. To appease his critics Mamet did a complete switch and wrote Boston Marriage to prove he could write for women.

Daylight Saving

By Nick Enright. Castle Hill Players. Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill. January 30 – February 21, 2015

Nick Enright’s play, set on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in the 1980s, is a play of its time, and, despite some funny lines and kooky characters, that’s where it stays! However it does lends itself to farce – because of constant arrivals and departures, many phone calls and some failed attempts at subterfuge – but if it’s played straight it doesn’t quite make it as either a farce or a period piece.

However, Bernard Teuben’s production takes place on an impressive set that sets the scene and the atmosphere evocatively.

Madama Butterfly

By Puccini. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 27 – March 28, 2015

The 1997 set and costume design for this production is just as stunning as it must have been for its original audience. The decision by director Moffatt Oxenbould and graduating NIDA designers Peter England and Russell Cohen to call upon the traditions of Kabuki, Noh and Bunraku theatre sets the production firmly in Japan. And, it accentuates the exotic view that Westerners had of the orient at the turn of last century. It also enhances the authenticity of the ceremonies and rituals that Puccini ensured were worked into the libretto.

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