Reviews

Have I No Mouth

By Feidlim Cannon & Gary Keegan, Brokentalkers. Melbourne Festival. The Coopers Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre. 10-13 October 2014

On the way in, we are handed empty balloons.  The show begins.  Dr Erich Keller, psychiatrist, playing Dr Erich Keller, psychiatrist, puts us through a relaxation exercise.  We are told to breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth, and feet flat on the floor.  Whether this is simply good for us or to make us more receptive to the show isn’t clear.  Later, he asks us to inflate our balloons by blowing our anger into them.  

Complexity of Belonging

Concept, direction and choreography by Falk Richter and Anouk van Dijk. Chunky Move & Melbourne Theatre Company. Melbourne Festival. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. Monday 6 October - Saturday 1 November 2014

The deep stage of the Sumner Theatre is backed by a cyclorama depicting a vast, indifferent outback sky, the horizon a mere streak.  Such is the lonely setting, designed by Robert Cousins, in which the show asks the questions, ‘Who belongs?  And how do they belong?’ 

Cirkopolis

Cirque Éloize. Directed by Dave St-Pierre & Jeannot Painchaud. Melbourne Festival. Arts Centre, State Theatre. 10-12 October 2014

Cirkopolisis ‘circus’, but not a circus with a ring, trained animals and red nose clowns.  This show is big and its resources are more than sawdust and tinsel, skill and dedication.  It scarcely ever lets up and can be all twelve performers juggling or one juggler juggling then dancing and juggling, and acrobatic routines on wheels and trapezes and poles and teeterboards, and some other routines that segue seamlessly into dances. 

Calpurnia Descending

By Ash Flanders and Declan Greene. Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse. Wharf 2 Theatre, 9 October to 8 November, 2014 and Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse, Melbourne, 13 – 30 November 2014.

Melbourne’s outrageous Sisters Grimm teamed last year with the Sydney Theatre Company to bring us Little Mercy, a high camp, highly sophisticated spoof on 1940’s psycho-horror films. Now they’re back with a witty take on film divas past, this time matching the considerable acting and drag talents of Ash Flanders with those of unique cabaret artist/actor Paul Capsis. 

Open for Business: The Wharf Revue 2014

Written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott. Sydney Theatre Company. Glen Street Theatre. October 8 - 18. Wharf 1 Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company. October 21 until December 20, 2014.

They were treading on dangerous ground in Sydney’s north shore – making fun of almost local member Bronwyn Bishop.

Up beamed on the TV screen Drew Forsythe in drag as Madam Speaker herself the “champion of manners.... stripped bare of party loyalty.”

We were told afterwards that many in the opening night audience are fans of Queen B.

My Fair Lady

Music: Frederick Loewe. Book & Lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. PrimPRIMA. Redcliffe Cultural Centre, Redcliffe, Qld. Director: Penny Farrow. Musical Director: Julie Whiting. Choreographer: Courtney Underhill. 9-12 October 2014

My Fair Lady was PRIMA’s second production in its 10th anniversary celebration, and whilst it did not reach the giddy heights of its Hairspray predecessor earlier in the year Penny Farrow’s production did manage to implant a little of the magic of Lerner and Loewe’s masterpiece onto the Redcliffe Cultural Centre stage.

My Fair Lady is not an easy musical to stage and not an easy musical to get right. Whilst several of its songs are classics, it has few ensemble numbers and no duets to break up a series of solo showpieces.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Adapted for stage by Dale Wasserman from Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 4 October – 1 November 2014

Brisbane Arts Theatre boasts that it can present literary classics in their stage version, and do them well.  This is another typical example.

I’m assuming Director, John Boyce, relied on Wasserman’s stage script. His adaptation cleverly manages the book by simplifying the unwieldy range of the characters to 16. I don’t think anything significant was lost. His version still leaves us with much to think about as we deal with how we treat our mentally-ill patients these days (especially as this was playing through Mental Health Week!).

Quiet Faith

Directed by David Williams. Co-commissioned by Vitalstatistix and Hothouse Theatre. Developed as part of Vitalstatistix's Incubator program. Waterside Workers Hall, 11 Nile St, Port Adelaide (SA). October 8-19, 2014

Produced with the best of intentions, and obviously a labour of love for everyone concerned, “Quiet Faith” sets out to challenge stereotypes about contemporary Australian Christians, and explore the relationship between faith and politics.

Crazy for You

Music by George Gershwin. Music by Ira Gershwin. Book by Ken Ludwig. Babirra Music Theatre (Vic). Director: Tyler Hess. Musical Director: Danny Forward. Choreographer: Craig Wiltshire. October 10 – 18, 2014

Though the slight plot of Crazy for You is little more than an excuse to showcase many of the Gershwins’ best known songs, no one was complaining.

This was a magical night at the theatre.

The Phantom of the Opera

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Charles Hart. Book: Richard Stilgoe & Andrew Lloyd Webber. Directed by Mark Barford. ICW. Regal Theatre, Subiaco WA. 2-11 October, 2014

ICW's final production for 2014, was like its stablemates, a beautifully realised production with very high production values, expertly sung and lovely to watch.

Mark Barford led a huge cast, with 60 in the ensemble to create an impressive fully fleshed production. A twenty-six piece orchestra under the baton of musical-director Ian Westrip provided a beautiful, complete sound with what appeared to be faultless playing.

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