Reviews

The Aliens

By Annie Baker. Old Fitz Theatre. Outhouse Theatre Company in association with Red Line Productions. August 25 – September 19, 2015.

Though director Craig Baldwin references the “vanguard of Naturalism” (Chekhov, Strindberg, Ibsen) in his program notes, playwright Annie Baker seems to lean more toward the absurdists in the style and the characters she has created for this intensive view of life and relationships. There are echoes of both Becket and Pinter in the characters, the dialogue, the pauses … and the effect on the audience.

Finucane & Smith's Glory Box La Revoluciόn

Melba Spiegeltent. Johnston Street Collingwood. 20 August – 13 September 2015

In Circus Oz’s beautiful Melba Speigeltent one is escorted through a hazy atmosphere into a very adult world of the exuberant expression of ‘the feminine’ in a myriad of forms.  From the grotesque to the ultra feminine, the disruption of gender conventions is releasing, sensual, erotic, racy, a little bit tongue in cheek and just a tad tawdry - all at the same time.

Antigone

By Sophocles, adapted by Jane Montgomery Griffiths. Directed by Adena Jacobs. Malthouse Theatre. 21Aug -13th Sept, 2015.

There’s an old adage – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Certainly one could argue that there’s a case for “fixing” a 2,500 year old Greek tragedy to make it more relevant to a current audience. But is this version by Jane Montgomery Griffiths the answer? Methinks not!

Volpone (or the Fox)

By Ben Johnson, in a new adaptation by Emily Steel. State Theatre Company of SA. August 21st – September 12th, 2015

Volpone means ‘sly fox’ in Italian and it is an aptly named satire full of greed and lust. Written in 1605 by Ben Johnson, it remains his most performed play. Reworking the script, playwright Emily Steel has brought a modern flavour to her adaptation. The lengths to which people are capable of going to attain wealth is not an uncommon tale and this story plays well in the 21st century of indulgence.

The Mannequint

By David Todman. Metro Art Theatre, Brisbane – Aug 23 – 26, 2015, then Sydney Fringe September 1- 6.

Comedy can be a funny thing - pardon the pun; and when a show is advertised as ‘a consistent and unrelenting comedy’ it’s going to be one of 2 things – exactly that ……..or not!!!!

In the case of The Mannequint, a new play written by popular actor and funny man David Todman, it pretty much delivered what it promised.

Picnic

By Marieke Hardy, KAGE and 45 Downstairs. Directed, choreographed and performed by Gerard Van. Composed by Alisdair Macindoe. Video and Lighting Consultant: Ben Shaw. 18 – 30 August, 2015

This is a delightful, short, crisp lyrical work that is great fun from go to woe. It is the type of sparkling lovely show that one could base a light and happy night out with friends, or that special person you have been meaning to catch up with, on.   It is a delicate sensitive joyful work, for which, Marieke Hardy has written a lovely ‘springboard’ that Gerard Van Dyck has fleshed out.  

Faust

By Charles Gounod. State Opera of SA. Adelaide Festival Theatre. August 22 - 29 2015

The curtain rises to a dimly lit stage that mirrors the mood of aged philosopher Faust, who is contemplating suicide. He calls on Satan to end his misery and so begins an evening full of sin, religion and consequences. Relinquishing his soul to the devil in the vain hope of finding love with a young Marguerite, his hedonistic ways cause an avalanche of pain.

Twisted Broadway – An Overview with Gratitude

State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. Monday 17th August, 2015

The Amazing folks at Twisted Broadway ask us NOT to review because everyone volunteers their time and there is very limited rehearsal. I’m not sure why they are concerned….if ever anything deserved an absolute rave review, it’s this marvellous annual fundraiser – one of the nights of musical theatre I look forward to most each year.

The Tempest

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Sydney Opera House. August 19 – September 18, 2015.

With this light and magical version of The Tempest, after 25 years at the helm, John Bell delivers an impressive swan song in this his last production for the Bell Shakespeare Company.

Everyone - and notably set and costume designer Julie Lynch, lighting designer Damien Cooper and composer Alan John - has together created a transportive, ethereal island world where Prospero reigns but the spirits have good lessons for humanity. 

Grief and the Lullaby

By Patrick McCarthy. Theatre Works (Vic). 14 – 23 August, 2015

Grief and the Lullaby is a very moving and insightful work that slowly unfolds to make perfect sense.  All four actors embody complex individual characters with considerable skill.  The relationships portrayed are very believable; at times robust and at times delicate, perhaps even fragile.  There is an ebb and flow between them and numerous naturalistic shifts of status that feel particularly real and go a long way towards sustaining curiosity.

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