Reviews

The Seagull

By Anton Chekhov, adapted by Hilary Bell. State Theatre Company of South Australia. State Theatre Company Scenic Workshop, Adelaide Festival Centre. February 21 - March 16, 2014.

For its Adelaide Festival production of The Seagull the State Theatre Company of South Australia uses traverse staging with minimal stage dressing and props as an inspired means of disengaging audience members from their surrounds, effectively immersing them only in the mood and story of this 1890’s classic piece.

Sensitively directed by Geordie Brookman and staged in the State Theatre Company’s atmospheric Scenic Workshop, the Company’s production of Anton Chekhov’s famous play is a new adaptation by Australian playwright Hilary Bell.

Reflect

FORM Dance Projects and Riverside Theatres present Dance Bites 2014. Lennox Theatre, Riverside Theatres Parramatta. 26th February to 1st March 2014.

Form and Dance Bites have brought some exciting new choreography and performers to their audiences. Reflect is no exception. In fact, the choreography is so intricately specific that one has to marvel at the creative concentration and collaboration of choreographer Sue Peacock and production designer Andrew Lake and the time it must take to conceive and plan a piece such as this.

Wuthering Heights

By Emily Bronte, adapted by Vince Foxall. Directed by Greg Carroll. The Australian Shakespeare Company. Rippon Lea Estate till 13th March, 2014.

The setting is sublime, the lawns of Rippon Lea House at twilight, the audience picnicking in front of the simple rostrum stage, the gloriously formal array of trees and shrubs as the backdrop. And then there is Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte’s sprawling Gothic novel adapted by Vince Foxall (who has received acclaim that continues to baffle me).

ONEFIVEZEROSEVEN

By Suzie Millier. Barking Gecko Theatre Company. Directed by John Sheedy. Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA. Feb 22 - March 1, 2014.

Barking Gecko Theatre Company presented this World Premiere production, by Suzie Millier, as part of the Perth International Arts Festival.

ONEFIVEZEROSEVEN is the middle offering in a trilogy that began with Driving Into Walls and follows an Australia-wide investigation into the ideas and views of teenagers. The opinions and voices of over 1200 teens became the themes and stories of this piece, named for the average number of items in a teenager's bedroom, that combines apparently verbatim theatre with dance and movement.

The Last of the Red Hot Mamas

Marika Aubrey. Neil Gooding Productions. Hayes Theatre Co. Sundays Feb 16 – Mar 2, 2014.

Audience members of my generation will remember 1960s black and white TV broadcasts of older, amply-proportioned American singer Sophie Tucker, whose life and career are now joyously celebrated in Marika Aubrey’s cabaret The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.

Fewer will know of her early career struggles, blacking her face with burnt cork, though maybe they’ll recall similar Black and White Minstrel variety shows which lingered on the Tivoli circuit into the 1960s, and beyond that on TV.

Below Babylon

Directed by Ashley Tardy and Finn Gilfedder Cooney. Bitten By Productions. Revolt Theatre, Kensington Vic. February 18 – March 1.

Below Babylon, a new play from Bitten By Productions, is a piece that’s full of potential. Set in a dystopian world of gun-wielding “enforcers”, it concerns Lincoln, a former member of this mysterious profession, who’s waiting for his past to catch up with him, ie for his nemesis to track him down and finish him off.

Embroidery Girl

China Wuxi Dance Group. State Theatre, Sydney, February 18 & 19, Palais Theatre, Melbourne, February 22 & 23, 2014.

Last Wednesday night, the State Theatre was packed seat for seat by Sydney’s Chinese-Australian community, who all rocked up in high anticipation for the China Wuxi Group’s much acclaimed production of Embroidery Girl.

SUMMER OF BLOOD

By Robert Armstrong. Blancmange Productions / Adelaide Fringe. The Bakehouse Theatre. February 24-March 1, 2014

Summer of Blood has its tongue firmly in its cheek, which is probably a good thing because tongues are amongst only a few parts of various bodies not ripe for slashing or shooting in this slick and funny spoof on horror movies.

Movies about serial killers are always gory, but there’s just as much gore in the creation of them in Blancmange Productions’ screwball comedy.

Inheritance

By Hannie Rayson. The Stirling Players (SA). Stirling Community Theatre. February 21-March 8, 2014.

Adelaide’s Stirling Players’ production of Hannie Rayson’s confronting and provocative play Inheritance is innovative in its staging, while the interpretation is graphic in presenting the story’s family issues, endemic prejudice and the stark realities of farming life in rural Australia.

Atlantis: In Concert

Written by Matthew Robinson. Directed by Chris Parker. Chapel off Chapel (Vic) World Premiere 23rd Feb, 2014.

One of the greatest thrills for any theatre lover is to be there at the birth of something truly special. Last night a packed house (you couldn’t move for the extra chairs) witnessed the birth (and death) of Atlantis, a remarkable piece of work sired by the extraordinary Matthew Robinson, whose talent is, quite simply, mind-blowing. Musically, it is epic in scope with sophisticated and witty lyrics. Robinson himself says it has been described as AIDA mated with Children of Eden (Stephen Schwartz’s epic musical). The analogy is not far from the truth.

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