Reviews

Madama Butterfly

Opera by Giacomo Puccini. Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Director: Moffatt Oxenbald. September 20 - November 1, 2012.

This beautiful looking production has been floating since 1997. The set resembles the inside of an exquisite Japanese doll house.  

Panels rise and fall, light peeps through the windows, then they become transparent when the stars and full moon come out at night.  

All of this is framed by shallow water - laden with flower petals.

In the opera Madama Butterfly is 15 years old. But it’s often the case that the leading lady chosen to sing the incredibly challenging role is as much as three or more times as old as this.

Drought and Rain

By Ea Sola. Arts Centre Melbourne. 20-22 September, 2012

Drought and Rain sees French-Vietnamese choreographer Ea Sola re-create her original 1995 dance piece, this time with a new ensemble of extraordinary Vietnamese women performing. Sola’s 1995 version explored the human costs of the war with America, and her performers were women who had been part of their country’s resistance movement. This new group of younger women had also lived through that war but their role was not to carry a gun. They sang to comfort the soldiers.

Kelly

By Matthew Ryan. QTC. 15 Sept – 20 Oct 2012

This provocative, engaging play may become our next Australian classic.

Snake in the Grass

By Alan Aycknourn. Castle Hill Players (NSW). Pavilion Theatre. September 21 – October 13, 2012

Anyone expecting the usual Ayckbourn English-middle-class-living-room comedy will be disappointed by this play. Written in 2004, and billed as “a wily and wicked thriller”, it is one of three of Ayckbourn’s plays that make a foray into the supernatural. It follows Haunting Julia (1994) and precedes Life and Beth (2009) – which have been linked as a ghost story trilogy titled Things That Go Bump in the Night.

Rhonda is in Therapy

By Bridgette Burton. Hoy Polloy and Baggage Productions. Director: Wayne Pearn. Dramaturge: Julian Meyrick. Set and costume design: Kat Chan. Lighting design: Richard Vabre. Sound design: Tim Bright. fortyfiveownstairs (Vic). 7 – 23 September, 2012.

Rhonda is in Therapy is a lively, insightful and satisfying play about the lengths gone to, by a young wife and mother, to remain in the limbo of denial, after experiencing a life-changing trauma that places her in the face of overwhelming grief.

It explores the cracked reality of Rhonda, a teaching professor of Chemical Engineering.  We watch her deal with her grief inspired, outrageous sexually exploitative behavior - through Therapy.  This challenging behavior is enacted as it is discussed to hilarious affect at times.

Lost in Yonkers

By Neil Simon. Canberra Repertory. Directed by Angela Punch McGregor. Theatre 3, Acton, Canberra. 14–29 September 2012

Lost in Yonkers is surprisingly authentic for a fictitional tale set 49 years before its 1991 composition. References to actors, sportsmen, and songs from 1942 almost suggest that it was penned at the time, and it won playwright Neil Simon a Pulitzer.

Made to Fit

National Institute of Circus Arts. 12 September – 22 September, 2012

The second year NICA students sure know a lot about showmanship.  Made to Fit, a new circus work on at the Prahran NICA space until 22 September, is mesmerizing. 

All areas of circus are covered: straps, aerial rings, adagio, hoop diving, tissu, poles, tightwire, hula hoops, general acrobatics and more. This is a showcase for the students to perform their specialist area for the first time, under the direction of Megan Jones and Meredith Kitchen (Jones is NICA’s Head of Performance Studies and Kitchen is NICA’s dance teacher). 

Boundary Street

By Reg Cribb. Original Music: James Morrison. Director: Kate Cherry. Musical Director: James Morrison. Brisbane Festival, Perth International Arts Festival & Black Swan State Theatre Company production. Powerhouse, Brisbane, 12-15 September 2012

James Morrison being brilliant on trumpet and piano was the best thing about the undernourished Boundary Street. Set in a dance club on the South side of Brisbane in 1942, the show used as background the infamous “Battle of Brisbane” when Yankee and Aussie soldiers fought on the city streets. Claimed by the director as a ‘play with music,’ the piece came across as more like a musical documentary than anything. Standard and original songs were linked with dramatic fragments of the event which never seemed to coalesce as a whole.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

By Ray Lawler. Heidelberg Theatre Company (Vic). Director: Paul King. Set Design: Paul King. Lighting Design: Deryk Hartwick. 13 – 29 September, 2012.

Celebrating its 60th Anniversary season, the Heidelberg Theatre Company has included one of Australia’s most iconic plays, having first performed ‘The Doll’ in 1992.

Themes of respectability and tradition are explored during the seventeenth summer that Olive (Jodie Symes) has welcomed itinerant cane cutters Roo (Gavin Williams) and Barney (Dan Haberfield) for the off-season. This year Pearl (Tina Bono) replaces Nance, who has married, for many weeks of revelry. But the summer doesn’t unfold as anticipated.

kiss them all soundly

By Jason Cavanagh. 5pound theatre. The Owl and the Pussycat, Richmond. September 11-22, 2012.

Set on a tiny stage meant to appear as though it was built by children from cardboard and bed sheets, kiss them all soundly is an interesting and well-acted piece of original theatre. Writer/director Jason Cavanagh takes three famous nursery rhymes – Mary had a little lamb, Georgie Porgie and Simple Simon – and works with the idea that each of these sweet rhymes hides a dark truth. He looks at what would happen if each of these characters were real people hiding a painful secret from themselves and others.

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