Reviews

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

By Tom Stoppard. Sydney Theatre Company. Sydney Theatre. 6 August to 7 September, 2013.

Two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, only briefly sketched out as childhood friends of the Prince, wait in confusion to be included in the main play, to be given a back story, a purpose. They are, to paraphrase Pirandello and Beckett, two characters in search of an author, two actors waiting for their own Godot. 

Friday

By Daniela Giorgi. Old Fitzroy Theatre (NSW). Aug 6 – 13, 2013.

In Australia we’re blessed with some wonderful, desert-dry political satirists.  Think The Hollowmen, The Chaser boys, The Sydney Wharf Review mob, Clarke and Dawe, to say nothing of our cartoonists, comics and columnists. And with reality stars like Slipper and Thomson, Obeid and Macdonald and all the Sydney rorters at ICAC, who needs to make this stuff up?

Penny Plain

Written and directed by Ronnie Burkett. Theatre of Marionettes. Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne. 8th – 18th August, 2013.

There is no doubt that Ronnie Burkett is astonishingly talented. His marionettes are so convincing that often you forget that they are not flesh and blood actors. Even more amazing is the fact that Burkett manipulates all 15 or 16 of them on his own, acting every role with different voices. It’s a staggering achievement and he holds the audience in thrall. He’s also a very good actor and doesn’t miss a single nuance or subtextual moment or expression.

The Glass Menagerie

By Tennessee Williams. La Boite at The Roundhouse. 3 – 31 August 2013.

Beware! You won’t forget this theatre experience. It engages you, then breaks your heart.

Director David Berthold decided to take a slightly different approach to his production: he brought the action forward to the1970s, adjusted the very 3D action to 2D so he could present it in three-quarters round, and retained many of the playwright’s ‘personal whims about the production’ that modern directors sometimes ignore because they find them twee or unnecessary. Berthold succeeds on all counts.

Hairspray.

Book by Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan. Music by Marc Shaiman Lyrics by Scott Wittman & Marc Shaiman. Gosford Musical Society (NSW). Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford. Director: Chris King. July 25 – August 10, 2013.

Gosford director Chris King sure knows how to stage a party. Take, for example, the final ten minutes of his production of Hairspray. To the irresistible rhythm of ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ he steadily fills the wide Laycock Street stage with manic energy, super-bright costumes and pulsing lights. The packed audience rise and dance, having as much fun as the happy cast. Then come balloons, streamers and explosions of confetti.

Don Parties On

By David Williamson. Canberra Repertory. Directed by Aarne Neeme. Theatre 3, Acton, Canberra. 2–17 August, 2013.

Being a Williamson play, this sequel to Don’s Party was bound to be clever. By turns catty, conciliatory, witty, and philosophical, it raises the most pressing political question of our time in the context of the 2010 federal election and somehow manages to focus equally on peeling open that most common but most delicate of human foibles, sexual attraction.

Botanica

By MOMIX. Conceived and designed by Moses Pendleton. Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre. 7 to 11 August, 2013.

Botanica is a well-paced, abundant and engulfing work, a visual feast richly informed and buoyed with a great eclectic cultural mix of music.  My overall response is that it is an exquisitely realized design, a rare gift of theatrical interpretation.  It is a wonderful journey amongst anthropomorphized flora, fauna and natural phenomena.

The Bloody Chamber

Performance text by Van Badham based on the story by Angela Carter. Directed by Matthew Lutton. Malthouse Theatre, August 6-10, 2013

The Bloody Chamber is Angela Carter’s retelling, in gothic horror dress, of the grim tale of Bluebeard. In this incarnation, with performance text by Malthouse Theatre’s Associate Artist (Literary) Van Badham, the story is narrated in first person by Alison Whyte, who plays the latest in a long line of doomed brides.

Fireface

By Marius Von Mayenburg (translated by Maja Zade). Stories Like These and atyp Under the Wharf Walsh Bay. 1 to 17 August, 2013.

Hot Siblings

Dysfunctional families can spark internal hatred, be the catalyst of abhorrent behaviour and ignite abnormal desire. Fireface has all of these and more… A brother and sister love and desire each other a little too much and their parents don’t love each other at all. And they all co-exist in a tightly packed tinder-box of a home which forces feeds fiery conflict and a final conflagration.

Trollop

By Maxine Mellor. Queensland Theatre Company. The Green House (Bille Brown Studio). 1-17 August, 2013.

Trollop has been around for eighteen months since it won the 2012-13 Queensland Premier’s Drama award, during which time it was developed for this much-anticipated premiere.

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