Reviews

Torch the Place

By Benjamin Law. Melbourne Theatre Company. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. February 8 – March 23, 2020.

Torch the Place is absorbing entertainment in the form of an unfolding story of what is uncovered culturally, emotionally and psychologically when three Chinese Australian siblings decide to step in and help their mother with her overwhelming hoarding problem.  The tricky thing is that they forgot to let her know of their plans.  It’s about family and holding on and letting go.    

Salome

By Richard Strauss. Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Mills. Director: Cameron Menzies. Palais Theatre. Feb 22 – 27, 2020.

Salome was a musical triumph for Victorian Opera. Held at the Palais Theatre to accommodate the large orchestra, it was the orchestra that dominated, with thundering climaxes and spine-chilling power, well crafted by Richard Mills.

Billy Elliot the Musical

Music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall. Universal Theatrical Group, Working Title Films, Greene Light Stage, Michael Coppel, Louise Withers and Linda Bewick. Regent Theatre, Melbourne. Opening Night: February 22, 2020

Billy Elliotis technically about a small boy in a small town, but it translates to a massive theatrical experience which packs multiple emotional punches, especially with Lee Hall’s lyrics married to Elton John’s score, with direction by Stephen Daldry, choreography by Peter Darling, and the orchestra under the virtuosic direction of Michael Azzopardi.  

War Horse

Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, adapted by Nick Stafford in association with Handspring Puppet Company. Sydney Lyric. Feb 15 – Mar 15, 2020.

After MIchael Morpurgo’s original novel, Spielberg’s film, two monster international tours and a theatre audience of eight million, there’s still moving magic left in the tale of this old War Horse. Joey is the star, thrust from country Devon to the trench warfare horrors of 1914 France, but he’s no more than a beautifully constructed puppet horse artfully manipulated by three humans. 

Short+Sweet 2020

Week 2. Tom Mann Theatre, Surry Hills. February 20 – 23, 2020

For a highly entertaining night of theatre with a great variety of themes and styles make sure you get to the Short+Sweet Festival, running for 8 weeks, plus finals weeks, at Tom Mann Theatre in Chalmers Street Surry Hills.

Each week there are 10 or more plays, each no more than 10 minutes, which range from light comedies to serious drama and everything in between. At the end of the night the audience gets to vote for two plays, which adds another layer of interest as winners progress to a big finals week.

Gypsy Caravan

Adelaide Fringe. Unley Village Green. February 22 – March 1, 2020.

The Unley Village Green on a mild summer’s evening provides a truly idyllic setting to enjoy Studio Flamenco’s Fringe offering Gypsy Caravan. Old and young gathered with rugs and cushions, picnics and drinks, sangria and paella to take in a night of Gypsy entertainment under the stars.

Seen and Unseen

Asia Topa. Arts Centre Melbourne and Victorian College of the Arts. Martyn Myer Arena. 20 – 29 February 2020

Drawn from the Balinese philosophy of Sekala Niskala that is translated as ‘the seen and the unseen’, this work is inspired by Director Kamila Andini’s film of the same name.     

Exotic and absorbing, Seen and Unseen is a rich, evocative, intoxicating triumph for the senses. On the face of things it is beautifully fluid and superbly presented dance and music performance of mystical and almost hypnotic nature. 

The Trumpet Unleashed

Southern Cross Soloists. Trumpet: Miroslav Petkov. Concert Hall, QPAC. 23 Feb 2020

Southern Cross Soloists began their 25th anniversary season with a dynamic program of chamber music showcasing the trumpet and welcoming back for his second appearance with the ensemble, trumpet virtuoso Miroslav Petkov.

With the Concert Hall set up in ‘reverse mode’, with the audience seated behind the stage and the musicians facing them with their backs to the auditorium, the intimacy generated was akin to a music-salon with the feeling that the musicians were playing individually for each audience member.

Hell Ship: The Journey of the Ticonderoga

Written and performed by Michael Veitch. Chester Productions. Directed by Peter Houghton. The Q, Queanbeyan 21 – 23 February 2020 and touring Australia.

It’s always somewhat mind-blowing from the perspective of the relative comfort and safety of our 21st Century lives, with our antibiotics and immunisations and understanding of the importance of hygiene, to imagine what it must have been like for our forebears. Even those with relative privilege were vulnerable to the sort of disease that’s almost unthinkable to us today. That reminder, presented with some fine story-telling, is what makes Michael Veitch’s new show Hell Ship so very compelling.

Shout! The Legend of the Wild One

By John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Melvyn Morrow. Koorliny Arts Centre and Kwinana Industries Council. Directed by Brad Tudor, musical direction by Shanice Tudor. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana WA. Feb 21 - Mar 7, 2020

Koorliny Arts Centre and Kwinana Industries Council’s production of the musical biography Shout! The Legend of the Wild One, is a big, bright, well produced show, which has its audiences tapping and rocking along.

The story of Johnny O’Keefe, his rise to, and battle with, fame, is told through the music of the era, and while the book of this show isn’t amazing, the direction and enthusiasm of this production overrides the lacklustre story-line to create a tight and very enjoyable production.

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