Reviews

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

By Christopher Hampton. Adapted from the novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclox (1782). Director: Bruce Parr. Villanova Players. FT Barrell Auditorium, Yeronga SHS, Annerley (Qld). 26 Aug – 11 Sep 2016

Although it’s thirty-years old, Christopher Hampton’s much-praised adaptation of Choderlos de Laclox’s epistolary novel about salacious sex games in the salons of Parisian aristocracy in 1782 still has the power to connect with a modern audience. Revenge and seduction are the key themes of the piece in a plot that has the Marquise de Mertueil challenging her former lover, the Vicomte de Valmont to seduce the convent-reared, 15-year-old Cecile. He accepts, but his real conquest in the amour stakes is to bed the religiously devout Madame de Tourvel.

Freud’s Last Session

By Mark St. Germain. Directed by Chris Hamley. Hamley Productions. Backspace, Theatre Royal, Hobart. 26 August – 3 September 2016

Mark St. Germain’s play  Freud’s Last Session is a speculative what-if – what would happen if Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis, two of the greatest minds of last century, got together to discuss – everything?

Freud’s Last Session, the inaugural production by Hamley Productions, directed by veteran director/actor/writer Robert Jarman had an experienced cast and crew of well-matched actors: Chris Hamley (C.S. Lewis) and Michael Edgar (Freud).

Strings Attached

Australian Dance Party. Directed by Alison Plevey. Nishi Playhouse, New Acton, Canberra. 25–27 August 2016

With limited opportunity to attract widely recognised talent, it's possibly predictable that a startup dance company's public debut would set out to distinguish itself in choreography, dance style, music, or production.  Strings Attached, Australian Dance Party’s inaugural offering, is a medley of pieces that set about distinguishing itself on all four counts.  Other than by using the one set (beautifully decorated with string nets) and more-or-less the same cast, what chiefly connects the pieces in Strings Attached is an impression that danc

Two Jews Walk Into a Theatre…

Devised and performed by Brian Lipson & Gideon Obarzanek. Directed & choreographed by Lucy Guerin. Auspicious Arts Projects. Arts House at North Melbourne Town Hall. 22 – 28 August 2016.

So… there are two men sitting in a theatre foyer, waiting for a show.  They don’t know each other.. but a conversation begins.  Because they’re two old Jews, the conversation begins with argumentative kvetching.  Look at this foyer.  It’s too small.  They turn a Town Hall into a theatre – and the theatre is – what? -  big enough for maybe four hundred people?  Can four hundred people fit in this foyer?  No.  It’s too small…

Which Way Home

Written and performed by Katie Beckett. With Tony Briggs. Directed by Rachael Maza. Darebin Arts Speakeasy & ILBIJERRI Theatre. Studio, Northcote Town Hall. 25 August – 3 September 2016.

Which Way Home has had a long gestation during which Katie Beckett has picked up some writing awards.  We can see why with this show.  With Jane Bodie as dramaturg and Rachael Maza as director, Which Way Home mixes broad comedy with the most touching emotions – and a heartbreaking backstory.  The way the characters transform, revealing more and more of themselves up to the final moments is handled beautifully, with smooth transitions into and out of the past.  This is not a show of high drama emotions; apart from a few flashes of exasperation or a

Dead Royal

Created and performed by Chris Ioan Roberts. Presented by fortyfivedownstairs and Cameron Lukey. fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 23-28 August 2016.

Chris Ioan Roberts is a formidable performer who has created an acerbic tale which brings together two of the most controversial women of the 20th century. The haughtiness he conveys as Wallis, Duchess of Windsor is tempered with moments of plain vulgarity. She comes across as calculating while Lady Diana Spencer is portrayed as aimless and vacuous. The clever text shows how their celebrity status has worked both for and against them. While on the surface it appears that these two women are worlds apart, the play highlights their vulnerability to the allure of royalty.

The 39 Steps

Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the movie by Alfred Hitchcock and the novel by John Buchan. State Theatre Company SA. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre. August 19-September 11, 2016.

British Playwright Patrick Barlow has a penchant for always challenging actors and with his company, The National Theatre of Brent, has even staged The Ring Cycle…with a cast of three. In fact, he and his company have overcome several similar apparent impossibilities, creating small-cast works in which, in his words, they have played “fifty Valkyries, ten thousand Zulus, the entire population of Nazareth and a million marauding Russians”.

Regression

By Gabriel Bergmoser, ‘deconstructed’ and directed by Joachim Matschoss. Bitten By Productions. Allpress Studio, Rupert Street, Collingwood (VIC). 23 - 27 August 2016.

Will (Tim Constantine), a twenty-five-year-old guy whose life seems to be going nowhere, is offered a chance to take part in a medical/scientific experiment that will take him back ten years into his own past. The confident, not to say arrogant doctor, Tyler (Tom Reed) emphasises to Will that this does not involve time travel.  Rather it will be a drilling down into Will’s memory - assuming that every experience that Will (or anyone) has ever had is buried or not so buried in his brain.  With some trepidation, Will agrees…  And confronts his fifteen

Avenue Q

Music & Lyrics by Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx; book by Jeff Whitty. Beaumaris Theatre, Wells Road, Beaumaris, VIC. 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 August; 1, 2, 3 September 2016.

After the headline talent, commercial run of Tony Award winning Avenue Q at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne CBD (closed only 16 August), you might think it’s crazy brave of little, amateur Beaumaris Theatre to mount their production so soon – and you might expect some disappointment.  Not at all.  This is a vibrant, energetic production that delivers all the humour, cheerful cynicism, energy and poignancy – and professionalism - required.

Curtains

Book by Rupert Holmes. Music by John Kander. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. The Production Company. Directed by Roger Hodgman. Arts Centre Melbourne. August 20th-28th, 2016

There is much fun to be had by cast and audience alike in Curtains. Rupert Holmes book is witty, smart and suitably 1950s hokey when appropriate. It lampoons musical theatre, critics, untalented stars and Whodunnits in a deliciously sophisticated and satirical way. The story is simple, yet complex. The leading lady is murdered on the opening night of a show bound for Broadway – but who is the murderer?

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