By Bizet. Blanke Knochen Opera. Director: Kate Millett. Musical Director: James Penn. Pianist: Pam Christie. Howler Arts Hub and Bar, Brunswick. October 5 – 9, 2016

There is a plethora of semi-professional opera companies in Melbourne. Now, to add to the mix, we appear to have an amateur company, and doing things differently. It is so needed.

Only in an amateur company can young singers hope to get the opportunity to perform major roles and learn so much from the experience.

My First Time

Written by Ken Davenport. Directed by Helen Ellis. 1812 Theatre UFG. 6th-29th Oct, 2016

Director Helen Ellis does a sterling job with an excellent cast on Ken Davenport’s compilation play My First Time – an offering about losing one’s virginity.

Plays constructed from real life conversations are not new, and some of them have become classics.

The Laramie Project and The Vagina Monologues, along with The Exonerated, are at the upper echelon of this kind of amalgam. My First Time drifts somewhere down at the bottom of the scale.

Who Speaks for Me?

National Theatre of Parramatta and Performance 4A. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. October 12 – 15, 2016

Performance 4a is a “professional arts company dedicated to making exceptional contemporary Asian Australian work for all audiences”, their vision being “to inspire artists and audiences to demand, embrace and realise the full potential of a richly diverse and inclusive multicultural Australia”.

12 Angry Men

By Reginald Rose. Matt Byrne Media. Directed and Designed by Matt Byrne. Holden Street Theatres, Hindmarsh, Adelaide. 12-29 October, 2016.

It takes a quality production to win over a critic who goes in harbouring doubts over the quality of the text being performed. MBM’s 12 Angry Men, despite its flaws, is a quality production.

For those unfamiliar with the premise, these 12 in question are jurors, presiding over an American murder trial. The men are not named, only numbered. An accused boy’s life hangs in the balance, and they must all come to an agreement before he can be either freed – or condemned…

It’s not me, it’s you

By Lucienne Weber. La Boheme (SA). 12-14th October, 2016

What does a thirty-something woman with a long list of romantic failures behind her do for therapy? If you are cabaret performer Lucienne Weber, you write a show about it. Incorporating many well-known show tunes into her hour performance, Weber takes us on a journey of self-discovery, with a narrative that pokes fun at the dating game.

Do Something Else

By Cloé Fournier, Ryuichi Fujimura and Brigid Vidler. Old 505 Theatre in Newtown. October 4 – 22, 2016

There is comedy, intrigue and psychological probing in thought-provoking work Do Something Else. Performance art devised over a year as a work in progress by Cloé Fournier, Ryuichi Fujimura and Brigid Vidler, directed by Michael Pigott, and performed at the Old 505 Theatre in Newtown.

Backstage In Biscuit Land

Written & devised by Jess Thom, Jess Mabel Jones & Matthew Pountney. Melbourne Festival, presented in association with Theatre Works. Malthouse, Beckett Theatre. 12 – 16 October 2016.

You walk into the theatre and the atmosphere is warn and relaxed.  It’s as if the show has already started, but it can’t have because the cast is chatting amiably to the audience.  There’s an array of distinctly weird props lined up upstage, including an inflatable dinosaur, ducks dressed as dinosaurs, cloud shaped pillows, a portrait of Mother Theresa and a cut-out tree.  Jess Thom, whom I guess is the ‘star’ of Biscuit Land, is peeping around a flat stage right, grinning and making wisecracks to her ‘assistant’ and co-star,

Inside the Bell Jar

Written and performed by Kate Mulqueen. The Butterfly Club. October 11 – 16, 2016.

As an introduction to my review of Inside the Bell Jar I would like to highlight the magical singing voice and piano playing of performer Kate Mulqueen.  Throughout the show songs and music play a part in setting a poetic and melancholy tone.

A graduate of the National Theatre Drama School and with experience in film, television and theatre Kate has gone out on a limb with Inside the Bell Jar, as she shares with her audience the most personal experience of the life, the suicide of her beloved sister Emily and all of the consequences surrounding it.

You and Me and the Space Between

By Finegan Kruckemeyer. Terrapin Puppet Theatre. Melbourne Festival. The Coopers Malthouse, Beckett Theatre. 6 – 9 October 2016.

There’s a happy little island called Proud Circle in an ocean somewhere.  It’s a balanced, organised society where everything works perfectly from the cradle to the (watery) grave.  (The old folks disappear voluntarily into the sea – which may be a little controversial for a kids’ show.)  The curious thing about this island is that it floats.  It’s not attached.  But one day, out of the blue, it springs a leak.  If this goes on…  What to do?  While the adults try things that fail and then argue and panic, it’

Falling Apples

By Lene Therese Teigen. A Verve Studios Production with La Mama Theatre. Kensington Town Hall, Kensington (VIC). 22 September – 8 October 2016.

Lene Therese Teigen’s play, Falling Apples, comes from Norway.  A certain tinge or feel of Ibsen is present, but in purely formal terms, Ms Teigen is more expansive, more adventurous, more modern.  She presents a community – with some catalytic outsiders – in which her thirteen – yes, thirteen - characters are trapped in society’s structures and strictures, or disappointed or thwarted by false expectations, in interlocking, overlapping and parallel story strands and situations.  

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