Reviews

Frame of Mind & Quintett

Rafael Bonachela & William Forsythe. Sydney Dance Company. Southbank Theatre (Vic). 6-16th May, 2015

What a glorious treat to see the Sydney Dance Company in the appropriately sized Sumner Theatre. Whilst classical ballet remains rigidly connected to its roots, contemporary dance continues to evolve in ways we wouldn’t have imagined when the SDC captured our imaginations some 40 years ago.

The School for Scandal

By Richard Brinsley Sheridan. New Theatre, Newtown, NSW. April 28 – May 30, 2015

Director David Burrowes has brought Sheridan’s play slap bang into the 21st century in everything apart from the beautiful language and the satirical characters. The set is sparse, minimalist; the costumes vivid, suggestive; the lighting bright; the sound loud, pumping and the direction stylised, contemporary. All very different from what one expects of a play written by a 26 year old in 1777!

Between Heaven and Her

By Dodo Gombár, translated from Slovak by Danica Haláková. Auto Da Fe Theatre Company Production. La Mama, Carlton (VIC). 6 – 17 May 2015.

A ‘Technician’ (Majid Shokor), in overalls and a beanie, checks the lighting as the audience takes their seats and La Mama front-of-house conducts the customary raffle door prize.  The house lights dim.  The Technician performs a magic trick with the lighting.  He finds a play text on a chair… and begins to read… and commits himself to the play and thus becomes our ironic Narrator for all that follows. 

La Traviata

Music: Giuseppi Verdi. Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play La dame aux Camelias, adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils. Opera Q. Director: Kate Cherry. Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conductor Johannes Fritzsch. Choreography: Rosetta Cook. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 7 May 2015

Opera Q returns to QPACs Lyric Theatre stage with a triumphant La Traviata, doing justice to what is the jewel in Verdi’s operatic oeuvre. With a consumptive heroine, a wealthy lover, and a father hell-bent on avenging his family’s honour, the plot is ripe for melodramatic excess and this production does not hold back.

Staged in modern-dress, with a striking mirrored cube centrepiece and a multitude of chandeliers broken or otherwise, Kate Cherry’s production is not only a visual delight but a truly satisfying aural experience.

The Host

Ballet by Natalie Weir. Music by Shostokovich, Prokofiev, Bartock, Bach and others.. Played by Southern Cross Solists. Musical Director: Tania Frazer. Expressions Dance Company. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 1-9 May 2015.

Natalie Weir’s new ballet The Host takes us into a world of manipulation and control amongst guests around an elegant dinner party. It’s surrealist and in some ways a distant cousin to Luis Munuel’s movie The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, with a touch of the austere world of Chekhov thrown into the mix as well. But regardless, it’s a work that is beautifully realised by this young company of outstanding dancers.

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Music & Lyrics: Richard & Robert Sherman. Book: Jeremy Sams & Ray Roderick. Regals Musical Society. Rockdale Town Hall. May 1 – 16, 2015.

At its heart Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a good old fashioned operetta with some sweet tunes and a prop that sends tremors through all but the most daring ofcommunity theatre groups.

Some of the more ambitious companies have declined to take the musical for a spin, fearing it too hard to do it justice in the slipstream of the professional season, that boasted the world’s most expensive stage prop.

Into The Woods

By Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Chatswood Musical Society. Director : Leonie Cambage. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. May 1 – 9, 2015.

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s fairytale musical mash-up needs little introduction just months after Disney’s screen adaptation.

A collection of fairy tale characters venture into the woods in search of their wishes in act one, before finding themselves in a world devoid of happy endings in act two.

All My Sons

By Arthur Miller. WAAPA Third Year Acting Students. Directed by Tom Healey. Roundhouse Theatre WAAPA, Mt Lawley, WA. 1-7 May, 2015

Arthur Miller's All My Sons is presented with passion by WAAPA's Third Year Acting students at The Roundhouse Theatre. A well-rounded production, it brings this post-war American classic to life, with both warmth and raw emotion.

While the audience are asked to suspend belief, with casting that calls for actors to play well above their age, the performances are very convincing and are complete and intelligent portrayals.

 

Grounded

By George Brant. Red Stitch. Seymour Centre (NSW). May 1 – 16, 2015.

I keep going to the theatre simply hoping for 80 minutes as gripping as Grounded.

It’s superb.

Kate Cole utterly inhabits the role of a female Top Gun who finds herself grounded following the birth of her daughter, part of the ‘Chair Force’, pulling 12 hour shifts at a monitor in a caravan in the Las Vegas desert, controlling a drone, bombing targets on the opposite side of the world.

George Brant’s solo play is rich, dark, dense theatrical poetry. The use and manipulation of language is extraordinary.

The Flick

By Annie Baker. Director: Nadia Tass. Red Stitch (Vic). May 1 – 23, 2015.

I find I look forward to Red Stitch productions more than to any other company in Melbourne, so I was disappointed to miss out on The Flick in its 2014 season. Fortunately it is back – with its original cast and creative team, and we’re all the better for it.

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