Opera by Richard Strauss. Libretto by Strauss, from the play by Oscar Wilde. Director: Gale Edwards. Opera Conference / Opera Australia co-production. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. October 12 – November 3, 2012.

This is a classy new production of Strauss’s 1905 one-act opera that thrilled Europe with its modernist depiction of rampant lust, steamy dancing (with seven veils) and the unrestrained pashing of a decapitated head. In the confronting final scene of Gale Edwards’ powerful staging, Cheryl Barker as Salome rips out John the Baptist’s tongue before rolling around the floor with his head until her black gown glistens with blood.

Our Shadows Pass Only Once

By David Temme. Directed by Andrew Holmes. The Street Theatre Made in Canberra Series. 11-19 October, 2012.

Told entirely in interior monologue, this poetic and abstract work explores emotions within two failing relationships. With deliberately slow, flowing movement and innovative use of live video, it’s mesmerizingly compelling.

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of War of the Worlds

By Jeff Wayne and Doreen Wayne, adapted from HG Well’s science fiction story. Directed by Ron Dowd. SUPA Productions. ANU Arts Centre. 12 – 27 October 2012

This show is a big, gaudy, colourful, old-style over-the-top progressive rock concert based on an 1898 story, set to classic 1970s music and illustrated with 2000s CGI animation, and Supa’s production does it plenty of justice. Director Ron Dowd has a history taking on ridiculously ambitious rock spectaculars, like Tommy in 2003 and The Wall in 2007, and he’s pulled this one off.


By Alana Valentine. Tredwood Productions. King Street Theatre, Newtown. October 10 – November 3, 2012.

Alana Valentine is perhaps the most versatile of Australia’s newer playwrights. She is able to make verbatim theatre work dramatically, politically and socially. For her play Ear to the Edge of Time, she is currently in Dublin receiving an international award for the best of 200 plays about science and technology. Her play Head Full of Love has raised after show donations of $45,000 to address kidney disease among Central Desert indigenous Australians.


By Mark O’Rowe. Blue Cow Theatre. Theatre Royal Backspace, Hobart. Director: Robert Jarman. 11-20 October 2012

An unlikely event – a girl falling from a crane – is the basis of a fantastical journey of story-telling by Mark O’Rowe, who wrote Terminus, Blue Cow Theatre’s latest production. This gripping play is written in a lyrical, musical style of almost-poetry, the verse combining elements of reality and fantasy to tell a tale of contrasts between beauty and grittiness, warmth and cruelty.

The Hatpin

By James Millar and Peter Rutherford. The Regals Musical Society. St George Auditorium, Kogarah (NSW). October 12 – 20, 2012.

The Hatpin isn’t a musical for faint hearted tastes. There’s no conventional love story, though there’s a moving story of the love of Amber Murray, a young, single mother, for her child. There’s no big dance routines, or colour and movement. But for anyone who likes dramatic musicals, dealing in genuine human tragedy and telling real Australian stories, The Regals Musical Society production of The Hatpin is well worth a visit.

Potted Potter

The Unauthorised Harry Experience. A parody by Dan and Jeff. Sydney Theatre, October 9 – 14; Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, October 16 – 21; Playhouse Theatre, QPAC, November 6 - 11; Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide, November 13 - 18, 2012.

Watching a Harry Potter movie in a comfortable seat at a multiplex cinema has caused me to drift off into slumber on occasions.

So, I was a little alarmed that the performers in Potted Potter began their show by warning the audience not to expect to see anything as exciting as they have experienced at the movies.

Initially it felt like a fringe show booked into a ‘fancy theatre’ by accident.

The couple sitting next to me lost patience and disappeared from their seats, as though a wand had passed over them, after just 20 minutes.

After Life

Composer, Stage Director, Video Script and Direction – Michel van der Aa (Netherlands). Performers: Roderick Williams, Richard Suart, Marijje van Stralen, Margriet van Reisen,Yannick-Muriel Noah and Helena Rasker. Conductor - Wouter Padberg.Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Technical Production Development – Frank van der Weij. Costume Designer – Robby Duiveman. Melbourne International Festival. Regent Theatre. 11-13 October 2012.

As a semi-staged contemporary opera, about the gravitas we as individuals place on what we deem to be significant memories at the unraveling end of corporal inhabitation, After Life is an uncomfortable, yet gratifyingly challenging, offering.  It is an individual journey that, although not without humor and lyricism, requires patience and a contemplative approach to be satisfyingly engaging and inspiring.  


By Brendan Cowell. Verge Arts Festival. The Cellar Theatre (NSW). Oct 9 – 12.

When I stepped into Sydney University’s Cellar Theatre, its intimate, underground atmosphere heightened my sense of anticipation - who or what am I going to discover here?

A Guide to Unhappiness

Written and performed by Sunny Leunig and Jono Burns. Music Performed by Sara Retallick. Director: Anne Browning. Produced by Kylie Risson. The Loft, Lithuanian Club, North Melbourne. 9 to 13 October at 6.45pm.

This delightful funny and moving fifty-minute performance comes highly recommended by me as fully entertaining, lyrical, funny and perceptive.  It could be equally at home in the Comedy Festival as the Fringe.

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.