Reviews

Shen Yun

Australian Tour. March / April 2017

Founded in New York in 2006, Shen Yun is a performance extravaganza featuring classical Chinese as well as ethnic and folk dance, with a full orchestra which blends Chinese and Western traditions.

Cabaret

Music by John Kander. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Book by Joe Masteroff. Directed by Gale Edwards. Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. May 1 – 20, 2017

Despite (or perhaps because of) one of the finest casts ever assembled, this production of Cabaret, a stalwart and favourite of Musical Theatre everywhere, tantalisingly holds out the promise of brilliance, only to snatch it away at the last minute. That’s not to say it isn’t good – it is in part – but it never seems to gel, to find a cohesive creative vision.

Let The Sunshine

By David Williamson. Galleon Theatre Group. Domain Theatre Marion. May 4-13, 2017

While David Williamson’s Let the Sunshine doesn’t have nearly as much bite in terms of social satire as in many of his earlier plays, Adelaide company Galleon Theatre Group’s strong casting and magic touch with edgy comedy ensures an enjoyable production of the play.

Documentary film-maker and left-leaning Toby has career embarrassments to contend with and has escaped Sydney for Noosa with wife Ros. He hasn’t found satisfaction there, either, because the place has changed and now contains exactly the sort of people he detests.

Private Peaceful

By Simon Reade, adapted from the book by Michael Morpurgo. Promise Adelaide. The Bakehouse. May 4th – May 6th

It’s nearly 100 years since the end of “The Great War” and here in Australia we have just celebrated our annual remembrance of the sons and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice for “King and Country”.

Private Peaceful at The Bakehouse is an ironically-named telling of one young British soldier’s story. It moves from childhood to growing up on a farm, then to the trenches of Belgium and the battle of Ypres.

Is That a Burrito in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy You Have a Burrito?

Written & performed by Lauren Bok. The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne CBD. 2-7 May 2017

In one of her routines, Lauren Bok mimes waking after a one-night-stand and not knowing who he is or where she is, and then dressing and escaping.  It’s not especially original, but she does it so well, it’s funny.  When she can’t find her knickers and her top, she turns to the audience for help.  A woman in the front row obligingly points to a plausible spot on the stage.  Ms Bok nods a hurried but grateful thanks, ‘finds’ knickers and top, then climbs out a ‘window’.  Her interaction with the audience throughout has a rela

Carmen

By Georges Bizet. Opera Australia. Director: John Bell. Conductor: Brian Castles-Onion. Choreographer: Kelley Abbey. Arts Centre, Melbourne. May 4 – 26, 2017

This was a polished production of the world’s most popular opera. I’ve seen innumerable productions over the years, and this was one of the best.

The set was impressive; a dirty town square with roller doors for entrances to the cigarette factory and other areas. The set remained for the whole opera and worked very well. A Combi Van was driven on to become a pop-up café for act 2, the smuggler’s lair became a warehouse in act 3 and the town square was outside the arena for the bull fight in act 4. Very clever.

Smurf in Wanderland

Written and performed by David Williams. Griffin Theatre Company / National Theatre of Parramatta. Directed by Lee Lewis. SBW Stables Theatre. 2 - 13 May, 2017

A play about football needs a bit of an explanation for a theatre audience. David Williams makes it clear this is about “the game with the round ball that you play with your feet, sometimes referred to as ‘soccer’”. He tells us that Sydney FC supporters are called “smurfs” because they don sky blue and white; “Wanderland”, if you didn’t know, is the nickname for the home ground of their cross-city rivals: the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Avenue Q

Book by Jeff Whitty. Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. Supa Productions. Directed by Jarrad West. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. April 28 – May 13, 2017

This bright, fast-moving production is another accomplishment from Supa. With direction that makes the most of the set (designed by Chris Zuber and Nick Valois) and tight musical direction from a band of six (musical direction by Elizabeth Alford), the audience is drawn into the streetscape of Avenue Q and its human and monster residents. This is not Sesame Street by any means, discussing sex, racism, political correctness, apathy and the difficulties of adult life.

The Savages of Wirramai

By Sandy Fairthorne. Geelong Repertory Theatre. Director: Iris Walshe-Howling. Set Designer: Melinda Chapman. Woodbin Theatre. April 28 - May 13, 2017

Geelong Repertory Theatre’s The Savages of Wirramai confronts its audience about sexual abuse.

While Rob Savage (Philip Besancon), the father of the Savage family, is proud of his courage and dutifulness in fighting in the Vietnam War, he fails in his duty to protect his daughter Cassie (Stacey Carmichael) from sexual abuse.

 

Pride and Prejudice

By Simon Reade, from the novel by Jane Austen. Heidelberg Theatre Company. April 28 – May 13 2017.

Heidelberg Theatre Company has done an apt job of bringing Jane Austen’s beloved classic to life on stage. On opening night, the house appeared full and the production seemed well prepared.

The show opens with a jovial scene of Regency-period dancing. The cast showed good mastery of Dianne Mileo’s choreography. The men looked particularly dashing in their officers’ uniforms. The Fortepiano added atmosphere and authenticity to the production.

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