Reviews

Wittenberg

By Dave Davalos. Brevity Theatre Company in association with Sydney Independent Theatre Company. Old Fitzroy Theatre. January 7 – 25, 2014

In case you're not familiar, Wittenberg is where Hamlet (yes "that" Hamlet) went to university. So from the outset much of this play is like many that fall into the Shakespearean referential category, an inside joke and if you don't know Hamlet well, many of said inside jokes will fly right past you.

Oedipus Schmoedipus

By post. Belvoir. January 9 – February 2, 2014.

This sassy female trio of theatre deconstructionists, called post, promises much but delivers little. They are left victims to their own spin and our over-stimulated expectations.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

By Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Roo Theatre, Shellharbour (NSW). 10-25th January, 2014.

Every so often a production comes along that truly stands out from the crowd. Roo Theatre’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat takes that statement and runs away with it. In a region that is jammed packed with theatre (both community and independent companies) there does seem to be an underlying current to ‘out-do’ each other. The team and cast behind this production have come firing on all cylinders, and in turn, do come out on top.

On the Shore of the Wide World

By Simon Stephens. Pants Guys / Griffin Independent. SBW Stables Theatre (NSW). January 8 – February 1, 2014.

As a director, Anthony Skuse continues to impress! Whether on the open stage space at ATYP or the tight confines of The Stables Theatre, his direction brings the play and the audience into almost immediate affinity. In this production, he finds strong empathy with the playwright, and the intricate web of characters and relationships he has created – and he communicates this skillfully through his committed and talented cast.

The Rocky Horror Show

Book, Music & Lyrics: Richard O’Brien. Ambassador Theatre Group/Gordon Frost Organisation Production. Director: Christopher Luscombe. Musical Director: Dave Skelton. Choreographer: Nathan M. Wright. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane from 10 Jan 2014 / Crown Theatre, Perth from16 Feb 2014/ Festival Theatre, Adelaide from 21 Mar 2014 and Comedy Theatre, Melbourne from 26 Apr 2014.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing the “Time Warp” for forty years. But on the Fortieth Anniversary of Rocky Horror this new Australian production, based on the recent UK production, proved the show is still one of the best rock ‘n’ roll musicals around. And with Rocky Horror veteran Craig McLachlan repeating his Frank-N-Furter role with a bunch of super-talented co-stars, it was almost the perfect production.

The Memory Mill

By Tess Burke and Terri Woodfine. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Directed and choreographed by Tess Burke. January 10th – 18th, 2014

Continuing in the Spotlight tradition, Tess Burke and Terri Woodfine have created a wonderful pantomime with songs (directed by Matt Pearson) and a storyline the children can easily follow. 

The assistance of three adults: Martina French as the Wacky Wizard; Terri Woodfine as Tabatha, the Evil Enchantress and Kate McNair as the Demented Half-fairy, lead the young but talented cast through this delightful tale with lots of audience participation. The juvenile lead is Tahilia Traecey, a delightful triple threat (singer, dancer and actress).

The 13-Storey Treehouse

By Richard Tulloch. From the book by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton. CDP Theatre Producers. Director: Mark Thompson Playhouse Theatre, Sydney Opera House. 28 Dec 2013 – 25 Jan 2014. Touring widely until July 25.

The hugely popular Griffiths and Denton Treehouse books are an anarchic treat for bright kids. There are now three of them — 13-Storey, 26-Storey, 39-Storey — featuring an outrageous, improvised fantasy world without rules, without plots. To playwright Richard Tulloch fell the seemingly impossible task of adapting the first of the series for the stage. He has nailed it.

Not only do the packed house of holidaying children sit attentively as the non-story rollicks along, they laugh, shout and, when invited, contribute their best monkey impressions.

Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts

Adapted from Roald Dahl’s stories and poems. La Boite and Shake & Stir. Roundhouse Theatre, Kelvin Grove. Jan 8 – 18, 2014

“You think you know this story … You don’t.” Each actor issues this forewarning as they pop up from different trapdoors as the show starts.

The production makes the most of the vivid imaginations of children and the familiar story time characters to create a performance that leads the audience on hilarious and revolting adventures.  Just four clever actors, Leon Cain, Judy Hainsworth, Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij invent multiple characters. Their brilliance is at the heart of this show’s appeal.

RENT

By Jonathan Larson. Directed by Paul Watson. Next Step Productions. Midsumma Festival. Chapel off Chapel. 9th -18th January, 2014.

A stunning revival of a music theatre icon opened this week….and no, it wasn’t Grease (fun though that was). This new production of Rent (based loosely on La Boheme) is the shared vision of director Paul Watson and producer/star/choreographer Leigh Barker – and what a vision it is, proving once again that the truly remarkable theatrical events in the city of Melbourne rarely happen on the main stage. There’s so much that is exceptional about this production, that I am almost speechless, and I have never been a fan of this show until now.

Thank You For Being A Friend

Written by Jonathan Worsley and Thomas Duncan Watt. Directed by Neil Gooding and Luke Joslin. Midsumma. Theatre Works from Jan 9th, 2014.

There’s an old saying that Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. That’s obviously not true when it comes to our feelings for our favourite old TV shows. The Golden Girls made such an impact in the mid eighties to early nineties that it seems like only yesterday that I saw it (in fact it was …the re-runs are on Foxtel). Last night’s opening night audience was singing the theme song before the show started. A very good sign. Avenue Q proved that people would watch and identify with life size hand puppets….another good sign.

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.