Reviews

Before Your Very Eyes

COMPO / Gob Squad. Melbourne Festival. Concept, Design and Direction: Gob Squad (Johanna Freiburg, Sean Patten, Berit Stumpf, Sarah Thom, Bastain Trost, and Simon Will). The Malthouse, Merlyn Theatre. October 24 – 27, 2012.

Before Your Very Eyesrewards with the sheer entertainment of watching beautiful young, energetic, professional actors at work, to say nothing of the interesting perspective it throws onto the art of living, by looking at it through young eyes.  

Becky Shaw

By Gina Gionfriddo. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Anna Crawford. 25 October – 1 December, 2012

The chief attraction of this 2008 American drama is playwright Gina Gionfriddo’s bruising, skidding dialogue. Apart from her theatre work, she’s written (and often produced) for such popular television series as Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Cold Case. The fully-loaded, rapid-fire exchanges between her five restlessly unsympathetic characters keeps my head spinning: my opinion of each of the protagonists changes radically throughout the performance.

More Sex Please … We’re Seniors!

By John-Michael Howson. Director: Pip Mushin. The Comedy Theatre, Melbourne from October 31st, 2012

The title is misleading. There’s no sex – and very little mention of it. But don’t be put off. There are lots of fart jokes, some wasted Viagra jokes, an audience participation song about prostate exams to the tune of The Hokey Pokey (Oh the Prod and Pokey) with hand gestures to match, and 17 mentions of Dr Phil  to raise a few  chuckles PLUS an entire parody song about him. (Phil, thrill, pill, will, till, kill:- the rhyming possibilities are endless – unfortunately)

 

We’re Gonna Die

Written and performed by Young Jean Lee, Original Music by Young Jean Lee, Tim Simmonds, Mike Hanf, Nick Jenkins, and Ben Kupstas. Choreography by Faye Driscoll. Directed by Paul Lazar. Jean Lee’s Theatre Company/ Melbourne Festival. Arts Centre Melbourne. 24 – 27 October, 2012

Young Jean Lee is certainly a courageous, sharp and perceptive theatre maker; she knows how to get to the bare bones of universal experience that can be satisfyingly shared with an audience. Her approach to creating work by specifically propelling herself out of her comfort zone is inspiring.

A Tribute of Sorts

By Benjamin Schostakowski. La Boite Indie and Monsters Appear. Roundhouse Theatre (Qld). 24 Oct – 10 Nov, 2012.

When kids get together to put on a show for neighbours and family, their earnestness and naïveté is often disarmingly amusing. As an audience member you daren’t laugh at something that goes wrong for fear of destroying their concentration or offending sensitivities of the players.

Our two young adult actors in A Tribute of Sorts, with their creator, explored that theatrical conceit to great effect.

Thurston Moore

Melbourne Festival. Supported by Kieran Ryan. Arts Centre, Hamer Hall. Oct 25, 2012.

Ex-Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore is a musos' musician, rated as one of the world's greatest guitarists and for one night only he brought his new band to Melbourne's Hamer Hall for the Melbourne Festival. Arriving onstage to little fanfair, and still jetlagged, Moore launched into songs from his 2011 Demolished Thoughts LP. From jangly pop to blues-tinged rock, and with his trademark cool vocals, Moore still bears the musical character and spirit of the great Sonic Youth. In fact, seeing this concert shows just how much that band was shaped by him.

Cynical Ballads

Luke Wright. Melbourne Festival. The Malthouse. Oct 23 - 27, 2012

An evening with Luke Wright is like curling up in front of the fire with a good book, a bottle of wine - and the occasional flying ember. He is young, charming and equipped with beautifully observed ballads delivered with the verve and sass of a rap singer. Wright is a natural performer, confident and skilled at bringing the audience into the darkly comic worlds he has created in his ballads. With each story, Wright's words are accompanied by Sam Ratcliffe's illustrations, which give a wonderfully scruffy, fairytale quality to the performance.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to The Forum

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Director: Simon Phillips. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne. From Oct 27th, 2012 for 12 weeks.

So much has been written about this production that it’s hard to know how to approach it. I’m guessing those with a sense of theatrical ennui, or the depressingly cynical, will find fault at every turn. But this is populist entertainment. If you want Goethe or Schiller, you won’t find them at The Maj.

Carmen

Opera by Georges Bizet. Libretto: Henri Meilhac & Ludovic Halevy. Opera Queensland. Conductor: Emmanuel Joel-Hornak. Original Director: Francesca Zambello. Revival Director: Mathew Barclay. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. Oct 26 – Nov 10, 2012.

Ask the man on the street to whistle a tune from an opera and most likely he will whistle something from Carmen. With its score of “Opera’s Greatest Hits,” “The Toreador Song”, “The Flower Song” and “Habanera”, Bizet’s love triangle between a gypsy, matador and soldier has never failed to capture and enrapture an audience since it first premiered in Paris in 1875.

The Laramie Project

By Moises Kaufman. Director: Chris Baldock. Mockingbird Theatre. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). Oct 26th – Nov 11th, 2012

Great theatre is rarely about expensive sets, or state theatres, or marquee names in lead roles. Great Theatre is about truth, and emotional connection, passion and spiritual elevation and it can (and should) be a life changing event. Last night Great Theatre was about a sky backcloth, eight wooden chairs, some creative lighting (Douglas Montgomery) and an ensemble cast of eight superlative actors sharing the vision of a gifted director to honour the text of a truly important and relevant play.

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