Reviews

RIGOLETTO

Opera by Giuseppi Verdi. Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave, after Victor Hugo’s play Le Roi s’amuse (1832). Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Johannes Fritzsch. Director: Lindy Hume. Chorus Master: Narelle French. Opera Q @ Lyrics Theatre, QPAC, 15-29 March 2104.

There was some fine singing on display in Opera Q’s new very grand production of Verdi’s 150-year old Rigoletto, which has been updated in director Lindy Hume’s concept to Silvio Berlusconi’s Italy. Hume originally created her vision for New Zealand Opera in 2012 using Berlusconi’s bunga bunga sex trial and corruption scandals as her inspiration.

Modern dress operas are a two-edged sword, they either work or they don’t. This one basically worked better than most although frustratingly there were still anachronisms.

The Government Inspector

By Simon Stone with Emily Barclay; devised with the cast, featuring a short musical by Stefan Gregory, Inspired by Nikolai Gogol. Malthouse Theatre and Belvoir. Directed by Simon Stone. Set Design by Ralph Myers. Lighting Design by Paul Jackson. Sound Design and Composition by Stefan Gregory. Choreography by Lucy Guerin. Costume Design by Mel Page. Merlyn Theatre until 23 March, 2014.

This work, inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s exploration of fraudulent behavior as depicted in his play The Government Inspector, bears little resemblance to the original. It could be described as a work in three acts. But don’t let that put you off, it is short and crisp and there is no interval. 

In Act One everything falls into strange disarray through a number of over the top events that are hilariously presented in a sort of matter-of-fact, yet, theatrical manner by a team of actors in search of a  …. solution.  

Next to Normal

Music by Tom Kitt. Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Directed by Darilyn Ramondo Doorstep Arts. Geelong Performing Arts Centre. March 14 - 22, 2014

Some things in life are a paradox; this Pulitzer Prize winning musical is one. With a storyline covering the disintegration of a family because of one member’s mental illness triggered by grief, it should be a depressing downer that makes you squirm; and yet it is witty, full of love and hope, cathartic and ultimately spiritually uplifting. It is more than a show, it is an emotional experience if it is done well. Doorstep Arts do it so well that it could be renamed Next to Perfect.

EMPIRE

Spiegelworld. The Spiegeltent. Rooftop, Crown Casino (Vic). March 11th to April 20th, 2014.

Sometimes one standing ovation just isn’t enough; so be prepared to be on your feet two or three times when you see this sensational production, which loosely sings the praises of New York City (though comic host “Oscar” [Jonathan Taylor] tells us expletively that Empire doesn’t need a story like ****ing Cirque du Soleil.)

Dimboola

By Jack Hibberd. Epicentre Theatre Company. King Street Theatre, Newtown (NSW). March 13 – 22, 2014.

Vivid and rude, this production of the classic comedy was grabbed by the scruff of the neck by a 20 something student director who was born twenty years after it was written.

Darcy Green set up an authentic looking  wedding booze up for the late 1960’s union of Protestant Morrie McAdam and Catholic Reen Delaney in the Mechanics Institute Hall, Dimboola, Victoria.

When one of his stars got laryngitis the student director learnt the role of Horrie in a few days.

Fight Night

The Border Project and Ontroerend Goend. Directed by Alexander Devriendt. Adelaide Festival. Queen's Theatre. March 13-16 2014.

Five contenders in bathrobes. A ringmaster with stock-standard bow tie and microphone. The stage is set - but this competition will hinge entirely on talking, thinking, persuasion, manipulation.

Subverting an audience's expectations can be a risky enterprise, but the minds behind Fight Night have done it, and delivered a presentation that is as gripping and thrilling as it is clever and sly.

Djuki Mala

“Chooky Dancers”. Judith Wright Centre of Creative Arts, Brisbane. 13 – 15 March 2014

Most people know where Northern Territory is but wouldn’t know where to find Elcho Island (home of the Chooky Dancers). Without You Tube you may never have heard of the Chooky Dancers. Their short 2010 You Tube video attracted over 800,000 viewers worldwide. That put the long little island just off the northern Arnhem Land coast on the map.

Elcho Island young men adapted traditional dances to embrace the western world’s popular music. They do it with panache!

The Long Pigs

Devised and performed by Clare Bartholomew, Derek Ives and Nicci Wilks. Director Susie Dee. Set design Anna Tregloan. Composer and sound design Jethro Woodward. Lighting design Andy Turner. Costume and artistic fabrication Amanda Carr. Produced by Insite Arts. 45 Downstairs until 23 March, 2014. (Vic).

It’s not often in the theatre that you suddenly realise you are in the presence of creative genius – but this love-child of Sweeney Todd, Stephen King, Charles Dickens and the Ringling Brothers is simply sensational. Like the internationally-acclaimed Slava’s Snowshow (which was the last time magic happened in the theatre for me to this extent), The Long Pigs harvests the rich, tragi-comedic terrain of Clown with unprecedented creativity and skill.

Breast Wishes

Directed by Terry Hackett. KADS Town Square Theatre, Kalamunda (WA). 21 Feb to 15 Mar, 2014

Breast Wishes is aptly subtitled “an uplifting musical” and as well as being a really cute pun, the sentiment applies beautifully to KADS’ presentation of this show, which despite some confronting subject matter, leaves its audience feeling good.

The Exhibitionist

Hannah Gadsby. Brisbane Comedy Festival. 25 February - 23 March 2014.

Hannah Gadsby was boisterously welcomed to the stage by the almost full house. These pundits in a twenties to forties age bracket clearly know her talent and style; they had their laughing gear ready and she gave them material

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