Reviews

Other Desert Cities

By Jon Robert Baitz. Black Swan State Theatre Company/ Queensland Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC. 10 Aug – 1 Sept 2013

This opulent set design by Christina Smith must be one of the most beautiful created in recent years. It is the Wyeths’ Palm Springs mansion where the family are gathered for a Christmas reunion.

Like similar reunions the play opens slowly, but quickly we discover the cracks appearing in the façade of this glamour family. Author-daughter Brooke (Rebecca David) has returned after living for six years at Sag Harbour, bearing the final draft of a family memoir containing details of an event during the first Iraq war that had a profound emotional effect on her.

Blue Man Group

Created, written and directed by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink. Blue Man Group Productions, LLC and Rodney Rigby. Lyric Theatre, The Star, Sydney. Opening Night: August 14, 2013.

They’re unique and quirky, merging rock'n'roll percussion with naive, engaging comedy.

Sophisticated multi-media joyously meets primal vaudeville slapstick.

They’re weird, childlike, playful and yucky-messy.

Bald, blue and funny-looking, these three guys embody inner child.

And my inner kid sorta kinda envies the audience members they invite up to play, even as the adult Neil says, 'please, not me!'

Freud’s Last Session

By Mark St Germain. Produced by Strange Duck Productions. Theatre Royal, Sydney. Director: Adam Cook. 15-31 August, 2013.

The excellent Freud’s Last Session program reveals that first-time-ever producer Adam Liberman, a seriously experienced lawyer, travelled to New York to acquire the Australian rights for this award-winning off-Broadway play. You’ve got to admire his taste and his determination while worrying about his bank balance.

TaikoDeck

By TaikOz. Glen Street Theatre, NSW. August 13-18, 2013.

TaikoDeck is a collaboration between brothers Max and Tom Royce-Hampton. The brothers’ vision for this production is to blend East and West, but they succeed not only in blending sounds from opposite ends of the globe, but also in fusing young and ancient, synthetic and acoustic.

Delectable Shelter

By Benedict Hardie. Critical Stages and The Hayloft Project. Seymour Centre (NSW). Aug 13 – 17, 2013

This is the kind of wacky show where the writer/director Benedict Hardie was probably stoned when it was written or if he wasn't then it makes you want to spend a few hours with him to find out what makes him so naturally high.

Sleuth

By Anthony Shaffer. Directed by Malcolm Sussman. 1812 Theatre (Vic). 8th - 31st August, 2013.

It sounds like a plotline in itself. Identical twin brothers both become highly successful playwrights, feted by their generation. But whilst Peter went for the intellectual and emotional complexities of Amadeus and Equus, Anthony opted for the equally complex but less cerebral thriller; and Sleuth is a masterful example of his art.

Prompter

Director/Co-Writer: Sam Fox. Co-Writer: Patrick Pittmen. Hydra Poesis. Production Manager: David Primmer. Art House, Meat Market. Friday 9 – Sunday 18 August, 2013.

Hydra Poesis, founded by Sam Fox, collaboratively develops interdisciplinary performances to critique social injustice and inequalities. In this production they raise questions about how processes of reporting and social media impact on our understanding of the events of the world and individuals’ responsibility for their responses. Unforeseen consequences add drama and some pathos.

The Phantom of the Opera

By Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Free Rain Company. Producer: Anne Somes. Associate Producer: Chris Neal. Director: David Harmon. Canberra Theatre, ACT. August 9 – 18, 2013

Why do theatre patrons love to see The Phantom of the Opera even after so many years? Is it for the spectacle? The much-loved songs? The orchestral score heard live? The romance and emotion? All these were present at Free Rain’s production of this musical, a first for Canberra.

Miss Saigon.

Music: Claude-Michel Schonberg. Lyrics: Richard Maltby Jr & Alain Boublil. Additional Material: Richard Maltby Jr. Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University Third Year Musical Theatre Students. Director: Michelle Miall. Musical Director: Matthew Samer. Choreography: Helena Moore. Conservatorium Theatre, South Bank, Brisbane. 9-17 August, 2013.

This was a terrific production of Miss Saigon – emotional, spectacular and thrilling. With a cast of 32, and an orchestra of 19, director Michelle Miall time-after-time created memorable theatrical images.

Schonberg, Boublil and Maltby’s sung-through musical, based on Madam Butterfly and set in Vietnam and Bangkok during the Vietnam War, has never failed to move an audience with its powerful and emotive music and this production was no exception.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

By Tom Stoppard. Sydney Theatre Company. Sydney Theatre. 6 August to 7 September, 2013.

Two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, only briefly sketched out as childhood friends of the Prince, wait in confusion to be included in the main play, to be given a back story, a purpose. They are, to paraphrase Pirandello and Beckett, two characters in search of an author, two actors waiting for their own Godot. 

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