Reviews

Outside The Box

A Candlelight Production in conjunction with Servants Community Housing. Chapel off Chapel. Director Mardee Kaylock. 16th-31st August, 2013.

Fringe theatre in Melbourne tends to fall largely (though not always) into two categories:- the self indulgent, undercooked, and amateurish; and the pretentious, obscure, and alienating. Outside The Box is different, and truly lives up to its title. For one thing Candlelight Productions is a non-profit arts organisation that is truly trying to change community perceptions. Servants is a group which provides community housing to those isolated, alienated, marginalised…mostly by mental illness.

night maybe

By Kit Brookman. Stuck Pigs Squealing. TheatreWorks (Vic). 15 August – 1 September, 2013

Sasha is left in the dark when her brother walks off. As she hunts him down she meets several characters – are they manifestations of the brother, or herself? Is this reality or subconscious?

This production is visually outstanding. The first eerie lighting change from house lights draws us onstage through the drifting haze to reveal a park at night with real trees and grass. The actors are side lit throughout most of the performance and this works beautifully, with the actors never missing their marks. 

The Little Black Dress Suite

Choreographer: Martin del Amo. Form Dance Projects and Riverside. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. Aug 15 – 17, 2013.

In this suite of solo performances, Martin del Amo’s contribution to Dance Bites 2013 brings together four pieces for which, over the past two years, the Little Black Dress was the recurring costume.

In each piece, the iconic costume is taken out of its usual glamorous context into choreography that is ultra contemporary, highly interpretative and tightly controlled.

The Phantom of the Opera

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics: Charles Hart; additional lyrics: Richard Stilgoe; book: Richard Stilgoe, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Presented by Craig Wellington Productions and The Tasmanian Theatre Unit Trust In Association with The Old Nick Company Inc. Director: Ingrid Ganley. Musical Director: Aaron Powell. Theatre Royal, Hobart. 9 -24 August 2013 (with season extended by one week to August 31).

With theatre rights for The Phantom of the Opera recently being made available for performance by amateur/community theatre production in Australia, Craig Wellington Productions was quick to secure the rights for performance in Hobart. The Craig Wellington production is pro-am, or “an amateur company production, although the majority of the principals are professionals, giving their services for free”. 

The Cherry Orchard

By Simon Stone, after Anton Chekhov. Melbourne Theatre Company. Directed by Simon Stone. Set and Costume Designer – Alice Babidge. Lighting Designer Niklas Pajati. Composer/Sound Designer – Stefan Gregory. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. August 10 – September 25, 2013.

Simon Stone’s contemporized production of The Cherry Orchard is bright, lively and delightfully accessible.  For those who have studied it, and seen it a number of times, or for those who have no idea what it is about, this is the production to catch.  It is funny and rewarding, and may even win over the purists, in its capacity to elucidate the complex emotional quandaries it explores and character flaws it reveals.

Hedda

Directed by Renato Fabretti. Blue Room Theatre, Northbridge, WA. Aug 13-31, 2013.

Hedda is a reconstruction of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler by Norwegian actress-producer Marthe Snoresdotter Rovik. Her aim was to "expose Australian audiences to Hedda, the way Ibsen intended."

A Conversation

By David Williamson. Director: Brendan Ellis. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth (WA). August 2-17, 2013.

A Conversation is the second play in David Williamson's Jack Manning trilogy about community conferencing, the first being Face to Face, which director Brendan Ellis directed last year at Stirling Theatre to some acclaim.

A more disturbing story than its predecessor, A Conversation follows a community conference after the rape and murder of a young woman Donna Milsom, between her parents and the family of the perpetrator.

Wunderkammer

Directed by Yaron Lifschitz. Presented by Circa. Malthouse Theatre (Vic). August 15 - September 1, 2013.

Wunderkammer (literally ‘wonder-room’, or “a cabinet of curiosities” according to Circa’s Artistic Director Yaran Lifschitz), is an ideal concept for this outstanding, Brisbane-born, contemporary circus ensemble to explore.

The pact that circus performers make with their audience, themselves, and each other, is one of death-defying precision – built on significant levels of almost innate trust.

Other Desert Cities

By Jon Robert Baitz. Black Swan State Theatre Company/ Queensland Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC. 10 Aug – 1 Sept 2013

This opulent set design by Christina Smith must be one of the most beautiful created in recent years. It is the Wyeths’ Palm Springs mansion where the family are gathered for a Christmas reunion.

Like similar reunions the play opens slowly, but quickly we discover the cracks appearing in the façade of this glamour family. Author-daughter Brooke (Rebecca David) has returned after living for six years at Sag Harbour, bearing the final draft of a family memoir containing details of an event during the first Iraq war that had a profound emotional effect on her.

Blue Man Group

Created, written and directed by Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink. Blue Man Group Productions, LLC and Rodney Rigby. Lyric Theatre, The Star, Sydney. Opening Night: August 14, 2013.

They’re unique and quirky, merging rock'n'roll percussion with naive, engaging comedy.

Sophisticated multi-media joyously meets primal vaudeville slapstick.

They’re weird, childlike, playful and yucky-messy.

Bald, blue and funny-looking, these three guys embody inner child.

And my inner kid sorta kinda envies the audience members they invite up to play, even as the adult Neil says, 'please, not me!'

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