Reviews

KADS One Act Comedy Festival

By James Forte and Johnny Grimshaw. KADS (WA). Directed by Johnny Grimshaw, Peter Nettleton, James Forte and Alexis Marr. 31 Aug - 8 Sep 2018

KADS is a company that loves its comedy - one of its major club awards is for the best comic performance, so it is perhaps unsurprising that they have created a one act play evening devoted to comic plays. Four shows, by two local authors, combined for an evening that had its audience rolling with laughter.

We Will Rock You

Songs by Queen, Book by Ben Elton. Metropolitan Players. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. Aug 21 – Sept 1, 2018

WHILE using the songs of British rock band Queen to help tell a story about life in a future world might seem to be unworkable, this a very enjoyable musical, with writer Ben Elton helping to make it gripping, funny and swinging. And the staging by director Julie Black and her team added to the pleasure, with the costumes, sets, lighting and occasional projections giving the Earth (here known as iPlanet) a very different look to what we see around us, and the small band and large singing ensemble in the orchestra pit boosting the sound.

Patience

By W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert and Sullivan Society of WA. Directed by Alan Needham. Musical Direction by Georg Corall and Michael Brett. Dolphin Theatre, University of Western Australia, Nedlands. 5-15 September, 2018

The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of WA presents one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s less often performed operettas, a tale of “love, jealousy and utter foolery” which satirises the aesthetic movement of the mid 1800s. While the aesthetic movement aspect doesn’t date well, it remains relevant with its mocking of trends, fads and hero worship.

Hello, Dolly!

Words & Music: Jerry Herman. Book: Michael Stewart. Based on the play The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder. Toowoomba Chorale Society. Director/Choreographer: Bec Stanley. Musical Director: Neil Roche-Kelly. Empire Theatre, Toowoomba. 7-9 September 2018

Hello, Dolly! has had a renaissance ever since Bette Midler’s 2017 smash Broadway revival. Jerry Herman’s hugely hummable score, coupled with Michael Stewart’s smart and funny book, make it the perfect musical comedy.

Toowoomba Chorale’s production of it may not be perfect, but it does have its joys, not the least being director/choreographer Bec Stanley’s terrific routines.

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks

By Richard Alfieri. Javeenbah Theatre, Nerang, Gold Coast. Director: Gaye Gay. September 7th – 22nd, 2018.

According to the adage ‘opposites attract’, and a prime example of this is Javeenbah’s current production of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks

This two hander is a ‘tour de force’ with consummate performances from Joanne-fae Worland as Lily and Andrew Cockcroft-Penman as Michael.

The Humans

By Stephen Karam. Mophead Productions. Directed by Anthea Williams. Old Fitz Theatre, Sydney. September 7 - October 6, 2018

The American playwright Stephen Karam grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. That’s also where the characters of this play - the Blake family - are from. They’ve assembled in a dark, rundown apartment in New York’s Chinatown, where the youngest daughter Brigid has just moved in with her boyfriend. It’s Thanksgiving and the early tensions signal this won’t go well.

The Dumb Waiter

By Harold Pinter. What’s On? Production Company. Chapel off Chapel. 5 – 9 September 2018

This is an excellent opportunity to catch two consummate actors perform in a skillfully produced, short, clever theatre classic by Harold Pinter. 

On a washed out greyish set by Michael Watson, of a sort of nasty basement hotel room, Ben (John Wood) and Gus (Don Bridges) interact over discussions about the mysterious endeavor they have been contracted to perform, and the more mundane difficulties of making a cup of tea.  Eventually they find themselves literally interacting with a dumb waiter.

Working with Children

Concept, Text, Direction, Design & Performance by Nicola Gunn. An MTC NEON NEXT commission. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler, Melbourne. 30 August – 29 September, 2018

Nicola Gunn’s show is anti-theatre – which is not to say it is not theatrical or not entertaining.  It is both.  It just works against – or confounds – our expectations.  In fact, for an audience to be completely absorbed by one slight woman in jeans and a T-shirt alone on stage for an hour and fifteen minutes is quite an achievement.  But Working with Children employs other means, which involve the audience in making connections and guessing at meanings rather than those meanings being dramatized. 

In a Heartbeat

Devised & directed by Penelope Bartlau. Barking Spider Visual Theatre. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton, VIC. 4 – 9 September 2018

Seeing In a Heartbeat means going to a time warp tea party, with real tea, biscuits and cake, china and tablecloths.  There are six tables ringing the La Mama Courthouse stage and six young hostesses, if that’s the word, in 1940s or ‘50s skirts and blouses.  They’re like your Mum or your auntie sixty or seventy years ago.  They show us to the tables and welcome us with warm smiles, make small talk, and serve tea.  There’s also a wandering chappie, but his job is to help out and occasionally take part in some dancing.  (He looks a bit

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare. Pop-up Globe, The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, Sydney. Directed by Miles Gregory. 5 September – 4 November, 2018

Popped up in the heart of Moore Park’s Entertainment Quarter is a full-size replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and it’s really something. This 200-tonne, 3-storey conglomeration of scaffolding and seats faces a really big stage featuring brilliant, up-close contact with the actors. A large chunk of the audience, the ‘groundlings’, have to stand throughout the show but are regarded as part of the action, treated as mates one minute or spattered with pretend blood in another.

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