Reviews

Australian Realness

By Zoey Dawson. Malthouse Theatre, The Merlyn. 16 August – 8 September 2019

It’s great to see Zoe Dawson’s unique and unconventional sensibility being supported as a voice on one of our main stages.  However don’t expect an easy comfortable work.  It’s confronting.  Australian Realness is funny, but also funny shocking.  And for this reviewer, who generally thrives on ambiguity, it’s a little too ambiguous.

Shakespeare in Love

Adapted from the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard by Lee Hall. Melbourne Theatre Company. Directed by Simon Phillips. Canberra Theatre. 22–31 August 2019.

The young Will Shakespeare is in trouble.  The Queen has commissioned a comedy.  But Will is so bogged down in his script for Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter that it is veering dangerously close to tragical farce. Will owes money, and his rivals are using his recent works without permission and with no more than a promise of payment.

 

Picnic At Hanging Rock

By Laura Annawyn Shamus. Adapted from the novella by Joan Lindsay. Villanova Players. Director: Jacqueline Kerr. Ron Hurley Theatre, Seven Hills. 24 August – 8 September 2019

Joan Lindsay’s story of three late-Victorian school girls and their teacher who vanish on an outing to Hanging Rock on Valentine’s Day 1900 has had a renaissance of late with a TV series and a couple of stage adaptations. Mixing mysticism with realism the story has fascinated ever since Lindsay wrote it in 1967 and Peter Weir filmed it in 1973. Despite the story being purely fiction, both Lindsay and Weir encouraged the public to believe that the disappearances actually happened.

Metamorphosis

Adapted by Steven Berkoff from the Franz Kafka novella. The Street Theatre, Canberra. Directed by Adam Broinowski. 17 – 31 August 2019

Gregor Samsa feels trapped and desperately unhappy in his job as a salesman. Needing to support his parents and sister, he can see no logical escape. Then by some miracle he finds an illogical one—by transforming into a giant insect.

Meticulously stylised, combining elements of puppetry, clowning, cartoon and physical theatre, The Street’s production of Metamorphosis is both gorgeous to look at and thought provoking. This version strips back some of Berkoff’s 1970s styling to hark back to the magic realism and eastern European flavour of Kafka’s novella.

Ladies In Lavender

Adapted for the stage by Shaun McKenna. From a Screenplay by Charles Dance. Based on a short story by William J. Locke. Direction: Gary O’Neil. St Luke’s Theatre Society, Tarragindi, Brisbane. 23-31 August 2019

Cups of tea, gardening, and listening to the radio, dominate the world of aging-spinsters Janet and Ursula Widdington, in pre World War 2, Cornwall in 1937. That is until the a young man is washed up on the beach below their house, close to death. Nursing him back to health reveals he is a talented Polish violinist seeking fame in America. The sisters find themselves becoming progressively possessive of their stranger, especially Ursula whose unfulfilled feelings eventually surface with poignant results.

Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand

Bangarra Dance Theatre. Artistic Director Stephen Page. Musical compositions by David Page and Stephen Francis. Choreographed by Frances Rings, Jiri Kylian, Stephen Page, and Elma Kris. Presented by Bangarra Dance Theatre. QPAC Playhouse Theatre, 23 - 31 Aug 2019

Bangarra Dance Theatre’s 30th anniversary opening night performance at QPAC was a welcome homecoming for Artistic Director, Stephen Page and many of his dancers, who are also Queensland-born. The title of the piece sets its theme clearly in celebrating our rich indigenous history. Each piece in this three-act performance showcases the versatility of Bangarra’s ensemble of 17 dancers in interpreting very different choreography styles.

Princess Ida

By Gilbert and Sullivan. South Australian Light Opera Society, Tower Arts Centre, 23rd August – 1st September 2019

Princess Ida was the eighth collaboration between those giants of the operetta Arthur Seymour Sullivan and William Scwhenck Gilbert.  It is an adaptation of a musical farce that Gilbert had written in 1870 which in turn was based on the poem The Princess by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. 

Belfast Girls

By Jaki McCarrick. Echo Theatre. Directed by Jordan Best. The Q: Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, Crawford Street, Queanbeyan. 24 – 31 August 2019

Ireland has trauma etched into its landscape. You can barely move without stumbling over the site of an ancient massacre or plaque commemorating heroes of the Troubles. A sense of injustice seeps through the ruins and stones like a heavy mist. That oppressive tone and a resulting spark of rebellion permeates Echo Theatre’s production of Belfast Girls, as five women discover and bridle against the class politics that have given rise to their personal tragedies and drive them into extraordinary choices.

A Deal

By Zhu Yi. USU & Flying House Assembly. Chippen Street Theatre, Chippendale. Aug 22 – 31, 2019.

A Deal is an eye-opening topical provocation, full of laughs and insights into the virtues or otherwise of life in the US and Communist China.

By émigré Chinese writer, Zhu Yi, her play has been performed in her adopted New York and twice in China, but a third production seems impossible unless she adds an assertion that China’s is the best system.  Artists there are suddenly more tightly controlled.

Rookery Nook

By Ben Travers. Tea Tree Players. Tea Tree Players Theatre. 21-31 August, 2019

Ben Travers’ Rookery Nook is one of the great ‘Aldwych’ farces, and has remained a ‘hit’ with audiences ever since it was first produced in London in 1926. This tradition most certainly continues in this delightful new production by the Tea Tree Players.

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