Reviews

Othello

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Sydney Opera House, Playhouse. October 25 – December 4, 2016

The best thing about Bell Shakespeare’s Othello is Ray Chong Nee.

He brings strength and charisma to the warrior Moor but also an unusual humanizing lyricism of manner (perhaps from his Islander background), which helps makes true Othello’s impossibly fast slide into jealous obsession.   

Chong Nee in fact unravels too much, by the end dwindling into an epileptic animal shuffling off to strangle Desdemona.

Cheaters

By Michael Jacobs. Galleon Theatre Group. Domain Theatre, Marion (SA). October 26-November 5, 2016

Theatre is wonderful in all its forms but a rollicking comedy is good for the soul and Adelaide’s Galleon Theatre Group recognises this. Comedy is all the company does, varying comedic genre through darkly black, gentle and poignant, to hilarious farce. Whatever the comedy fare, the company invariably serves it up well done.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Libretto: Tim Rice. Gateway Theatre Productions Director: Thomas Armstrong-Robley. Musical Director: Lucas D. Lynch. Choreographer: Maureen Bowra. The Events Centre, Caloundra, Qld. 27 Oct – 5 Nov 2016

X Factor Season 2 winner Altiyan Childs and The Voice Grand Finalist Frank Lakoudis added mega-watt star-power to Gateway Theatre’s inaugural Sunshine Coast production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

The Eighth Wonder

By Dennis Watkins and Alan John. Opera Australia. Forecourt Sydney Opera House. October 28 – November 5, 2016

What a pleasure to see an Australian written opera performed not only for the third time, but on a scale of excellence at every level that will ensure its revival for decades to come.

The normal trajectory for locally written operas is for them to be seen once in a brief season, squeezed in between classics. That mould has been shattered.

A Little Princess

By Andrew Lippa and Brian Crawley. Playlovers Directed by Lisa Johnston. Stirling Theatre, Innaloo, WA. 27 Oct - 12 Nov, 2016

The presently homeless Playlovers are presenting A Little Princess at Stirling Theatre, in a production that uses the borrowed venue beautifully.

A fabulous looking production that blends the colours of Africa with the decorum and manners of Victorian London - highlighted by beautifully co-ordinated costumes by Lyn Hutcheon and a versatile set designed by Lisa Johnston and Amber Southall. The colours of the various locales and exotic dream-sequences are highlighted by creative lighting by Katrina Johnston.

Antigone

Adapted by DaMien Ryan from the play by Sophocles. Sport by Jove. Directed by Damien Ryan and Terry Karabelas. The Playhouse, Canberra. 27–29 October 2016. Riverside Theatres. 9–12 November 2016.

Publicity for this play describes it as dealing with the conflict between family and state loyalties in civil war; and, to a society not embroiled in civil war, the strife inherent in such conflict may remain abstract and seem irrelevant.  But — Antigone’s conscience being pitted against that of her uncle, Creon, who has taken kingship of Thebes in its transition from military dictatorship back to fledgeling democracy — the play deals with the conflict occurring within the hearts of its protagonists more than with conflict as political fuel.

Roberto Zucco

By Bernard-Marie Koltès. Translated by Martin Crimp and directed by Alice Bishop. Presented by La Mama and Alliance Française, 51 Grey St, St Kilda. 26 October – 13 November, 2016.

Translating this play by the legendary Koltès is a creative enterprise that is certainly worthwhile but not without its challenges. The spine-chilling story of the murderous rampage of a psychopath creates a space to philosophically examine themes such as hypocrisy, possessiveness, gendered power dynamics, and the emphasis on the material nature of existence. These concepts are all forcefully explored in this play.

Moliere’s Tartuffe the Hypocrite

Black Swan State Theatre Company. Directed by Kate Cherry. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre, WA. October 22 - November 6, 2016.

The campy, cartoon-like romp that is Justin Fleming’s new version of Tartuffe provides a wonderful swan-song as artistic director Kate Cherry departs from Black Swan.

Set on a beautiful, clean, modern multi-level revolving set by Richard Roberts (who also designed the costumes), - this translation, with its clever, if sometimes amusingly forced rhyme, is up-to-the-minute and unmistakably Australian, yet loyal to its French parentage and origin.

 

Julius Caesar

By William Shakespeare. Director: Fleur Kilpatrick. Assistant Director: Joey Burford. Sound Designer: Justin Gardam. Dramaturge: Claire Macallister. Essential Theatre. Space 338. Melbourne Fringe Festival. September 20 – 29, 2016.

It’s easy for independent theatre companies to do Shakespeare badly.

In my 22 years as a reviewer, I've seen many modern takes on Shakespeare’s classics. Too often, these fail to deliver.

But with 16 years of experience behind them – including touring their ‘Shakespeare in the Vines’ program – you’d expect Essential Theatre to be up for the challenge.

Oliver!

By Lionel Bart. Engadine Musical Society. October 21 – 30, 2016

Engadine Musical Society’s production of Lionel Bart’s famous musical Oliver!, based on Dickens classic tale, was a joy to witness. Delivered in a darker sense than I have seen it performed previously, Director Meg Day has added her own unique touch to the much loved show.

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