Reviews

The Wharf Revue 2012 - Red Wharf: Beyond the Rings of Satire

By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott. Sydney Theatre Company. Wharf 2 Theatre. November 1 - December 22, 2012.

Those clever writers from the Wharf Review are in fine form.

First there was a spoon full of sugar for Julia: “With my negotiating skills I passed an awful lot of bills in a parliament that teeters on the edge, but no-one ever mentioned those. They just ridicule my nose, my voice, my hair, my girlish derriere.”

King Lear

By William Shakespeare. TheatreiNQ Company (formerly Shakespeare Under the Stars). Director: Terri Brabon. Designer: Brendan O'Connor. Townsville 18 - 29 September.

Arriving at the stately gates of Queen’s Gardens at dusk and walking along flame-lit paths to the performance space, members of the audience could easily believe that they had entered another time and place for the performance of “King Lear” by THEATREiNQ.

Director Terri Brabon assembled an accomplished and talented cast who rose to the challenge of presenting this classic Shakespearian tragedy in an open-air setting.

Brabon was successful in maintaining the clarity of plot and sub-plot through astute direction and effective dove-tailing of scenes.

Oliver!

Book, Music & Lyrics: Lionel Bart. PRIMA (Pine Rivers Musical Association Inc., @ Holy Spirit Auditorium, Bray Park, Qld. Director: Melanie Evans. Music Director: Terry Million. Choreographer: Shelley Marshall. Oct 19 – 27, 2012.

Charles Dickens Oliver Twist is one of the great British novels and Lionel Bart’s musical adaptation of it is one of the great British musicals. PRIMA’s production ticked all the right boxes, with Bart’s score the strength of the performance.

Michael Forman was a very impressive Fagin, bringing out the Jewishness of the character, dancing impishly, and singing the role with conviction. His “Pick a Pocket or Two” and “Reviewing the Situation” were a delight.

An Act of Now

Chunky Move. Melbourne Festival. Sidney Myer Music Bowl.18-27 October 2012

Beautiful and risky, disturbing and passionate are just some of the ways in which to describe Chunky Move's new contemporary dance piece, An Act of Now. As the very first production by the company's new artistic director Anouk Van Dijk, An Act of Now is a thrilling moment for anyone who cares about dance and its possibilities.

Elaine Paige in Concert

Riverside Theatre, Perth. 20 October 2012, then touring nationally.

Elaine Paige has a beautiful natural warmth that quickly endears her to her audience, and a relaxed natural performance style that translates well to Australian audiences. In her first performance on the Australian leg of her tour, she was troubled by technical difficulties, but delivered an excellent program.

The Lonesome West

By Martin McDonagh, Directed by Grant Lepan-Walker. Bakery @ 1812 Theatre. October 11 – November 3, 2012.

1812 theatre is nothing if not eclectic, and it makes some bold choices, (particularly for its performing space The Bakery) which won’t suit everyone, but which I find exciting. British born Irish playwright Martin McDonagh is best known for his three trilogies set in Galway Ireland. The Lonesome West is the third play in his first trilogy and it’s rarely performed. This may be because of its language and outright (though affectionate) blasphemy towards the Catholic church. It’s a very dark comedy, disturbing but hilariously funny.

The Hotel Hibiscus

By Robert Cockburn. Epicentre Theatre Company. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. Oct 18 – 27, 2012.

In the tradition of the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare and Brecht, The Hotel Hibiscus reflects society, sends a political message, advocates action. Using the setting of an imaginary island off the coast of New Guinea, it tells the story of the Australian-backed Papua New Guinea Defence Force’s dirty war for Rio Tinto Zinc on Bougainville Island in the 1990s – and the 15 year wall of silence that ensued.

Managing Carmen

By David Williamson. Director: Wesley Enoch. QTC with Black Swan State Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC, 18 Oct – 4 Nov. State Theatre Centre of WA Heath Ledger Theatre, Nov 10 – Dec 2, 2012.

David Williamson is at the top of his game with Managing Carmen, his new play about a cross-dressing AFL footballer. It’s immensely funny, zips along faster than the NBN, and has a pay-off that’s poignant in its plea for tolerance in our sport-obsessed society.

Michael James Manaia

By John Broughton. Taki Rua Productions. 45 Downstairs in association with Melbourne Festival. Directed by Nathaniel Lees. Performed by Te Kohe Tuhaka. Set Design – Daniel Williams. Lighting Design – Lisa Maule. Sound Design – Maaka McGregor. October 12 – 28, 2012.

Michael James Manaia is a spirited work of compassionate humanity exquisitely presented by a real tour de force in actor Te Kohe Tuhaka.  

Freeway – The Chet Baker Journey.

Conceived and written by Bryce Hallet and Tim Draxl. Melbourne Arts Centre 16th-20th October, 2012

Freeway is a stunning cabaret piece which has been rightly acclaimed. I wish I had seen it at a jazz club, with a glass of wine, at a rickety table and a sense of intimacy all around. The Fairfax is a small theatre, but it’s still a theatre, and Freeway isn’t yet a theatre show, in spite of its charm.

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