Reviews

Paradise Lost

Written by John Milton, adapted and performed by Christopher Samuel Carroll. Bare Witness Theatre Company. Belconnen Arts Centre, ACT, January 26 – 28, 2017, then Fringe World, Perth, Jan 31 – Feb 4, and Adelaide Fringe, Feb 16 – 25.

This one-man performance is an ambitious adaptation of Milton’s classic poem Paradise Lost. While it is not studied at school as much as in previous generations, its resonances still linger through imagery and quotes. The adaptation includes both arcs of the poem: the fall of Lucifer from Heaven, and the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Djuki Mala

Fringe World. Directed by Joshua Bond. Salon Perdu Spiegeltent, Pleasure Gardens, Northbridge, WA. Jan 27-Feb 14, 2017

Djuki Mala are the group formerly known as The Chooky Dancers, who came to fame after their 2007 Zorba the Greek YouTube video went viral. Performing in Perth for the first time, they are delighting capacity crowds with their Fringe World show.

Opening with traditional indigenous dance, from their homeland Elcho Island, Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, from the outset the show is tight, well choreographed and vibrant.

in/compatible – a tale of dysfunction

Fringe World / Fairly Random Inc. Directed by Ian Toyne. Flaming Locomotive, Injector Room – State Theatre Centre of WA. Jan 31 – Feb 4, 2017

This collection of ten-minute plays about sexual dysfunction among young adults, was presented by Fairly Random Inc. and The Flaming Locomotive. Varied, insightful and clever, they provided a slightly eclectic evening that entertained and sparked conversation.

Absolutely

Allan Girod. Fringe World. Flaming Locomotive, Driver Room, Art Gallery of WA. Feb 3-4, 2017

Described as “a giant-hearted story from a giant-sized storyteller”, this gorgeous little one-man show feels a bit like a warm hug. A beautiful, honest sharing of humanity.

The Shoehorn Sonata

By John Misto. Squeaky Dog Productions. Directed by Joanna Joy. Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre (782 Kingsway, Gymea, Sydney). 3-9 February 2017

When John Misto wrote his play The Shoehorn Sonata in 1995, the Australian Government had not yet built a memorial to the forty-one Australian army nurses who suffered during World War II. It wasn’t until 1999 that a memorial was finally built in Canberra.

Labels

Directed by Joe Sellman-Leava. Worklight / Fringe World. Blue Room Theatre, Perth, WA. Jan 28 - Feb 4, 2017

Joe Sellman-Leava captivates his audience in this award-winning one-man show about labels that are placed upon people and the wider issues of racism, immigration and displaced people.

Jumping the Shark Fantastic

Directed by Malcolm Whittaker (Outside Eye - Jennifer Jamieson). Fringe World. PICA – Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Feb 1-4, 2017

Jumping the Shark Fantastic is an effort to discover what would constitute the best theatre ever.  An hour long presentation of ALL of the best ideas.

The Book of Mormon

Book, Music and Lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Directed by Trey Parker and Casey Nicholaw. Princess Theatre Melbourne – Opening Night, February 4, 2017.

Let me start with the tagline:- The Book Of Mormon Is Quite Simply The Funniest Musical Of All Time.

There! It’s just my opinion but I’ll take on any challengers (not that I expect there to be any). This marvellous piece of buffoonery, for all it’s crudity and brashness, is warm, endearing, positive and with a terrific score.

The slim storyline sees newly appointed missionaries sent to Uganda, where the population is dying from AIDS, poverty, neglect and terrorism. Can anything in the Book Of Mormon actually ease their plight?

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Book by Jeffrey Lane. Music and Lyrics by David Yazbeck. Phoenix Ensemble Inc. Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds, Queensland. February 3 – 25, 2017.

The story opens with the smooth and self-loving lothario Lawrence Jameson (played excellently by Frog Johnson) conning the rich and wonderful women of the French Riviera out of their jewels and cash quite happily, until the young and somewhat enthusiastic try-hard Freddy Benson (Trent Richards) arrives to try his luck. Into the mix is added Phillip Fitzjohn as Jameson's sidekick Andre Thibault and Danika Saal as Christine Colgate, the eventual main target for the two prime protagonists.

La Traviata

By Guiseppe Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave. Opera Australia. Directed by Elijah Moshinsky. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. February 3 to April 1, 2017.

Opera Australia's 200th performance of La Traviata had a decidedly international flavour. In the lead as Violetta was Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho, who gave such a masterclass in emotive performance that she prompted the usually reserved Opera Australia audience to their feet.  

She remained in character during the ovation at the curtain call – appearing utterly spent, just moments after a spectacular final collapse onto the stage. The highlights of her singing were the sustained low pianissimo and clarity of her highest notes.

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