Reviews

Priscilla Queen of the Desert - the Musical

Book by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott. Based on the Latent Image/Specific Films Motion Picture Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Presented by Michael Cassel Group and Nullarbor Productions in association with MGM On Stage. Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. 19 August-15 September, 2018.

The gorgeously decorated treat that is Priscilla Queen of the Desert - the Musical has definitely not been ‘left out in the rain’ like the cake in the lyrics of one of its songs. This is a perfect, unspoiled confection of glitz, glamour, music, moments of poignancy and large servings of feel-good fun. Adelaide’s opening night audience consumed the delicious offering with relish and gave it a well-deserved standing ovation.

The Woman in Black

Adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt, based on the 1983 novella by Susan Hill. D and S Media Productions. Directed by David Wicks. Laycock Street Theatre, Don Craig Room - Aug 23-25, 2018 and The Art House Theatre, Wyong Sept 1, 2018

The anticipation levels prior to seeing this play were two-fold. Not only is it the second-longest running play in the history of London’s West End (31 years) but it is also legendarily purported to scare the pants off ya! 

The setting is a Victorian era theatre - a nervous old man enlists the assistance of a passionate young actor to help him formally re-tell a ghastly experience, from which he feels doomed never to recover. Thus begins a deliciously-written ‘play within a play’.

Venus in Fur

By David Ives. The Street Theatre, Childers Street, Canberra. Directed by Caroline Stacey. 21 August – 2 September 2018

I’d be careful if I were you. When you obtain your ideal, she may be more cruel than you care for.” Playwright Thomas Novachek (Craig Alexander) has spent the day auditioning actresses for his stage adaptation of Venus in Fur, based on the classic novel on sadomasochism by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Having rejected them all as shallow and unworldly, he’s preparing to meet his fiancée for dinner, when in bursts Vanda (Joanna Richards), crude, abrasive and assertive, two hours later than she was booked to arrive.

The Divine Miss Bette

With Catherine Alcorn. Neil Gooding Productions, Tenacious C Presents. The Studio, Sydney Opera House. 23 – 26 August 2018

With big hair and big voice Catherine Alcorn attacks the sacred memory of American star Bette Midler in the 70s and 80s – rumbustious, raucous, straight-out brilliant. Okay, she doesn’t quite make it – who could? – but she nevertheless has a damn good crack at the elusive title of Divine Miss Bette. 

In full kit, with huge honey blonde hair, overflowing chest and wickedly made-up eyes, she teeters on and, for two hours, sashays non-stop about the stage. She’s certainly a powerhouse. 

Scaramouche Jones

By Justin Butcher. Arts Centre Melbourne / Wander Productions. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. August 15 – 25, 2018

Scaramouche Jonesis a wonderful opportunity to see veteran actor Colin Friels convey a complex character with splendid insightful skill.

In a very short eighty minutes, Friels captures and reels in his audience, entrancing with stories of the fictional clown Scaramouche, who has lived an exceptional life that highlights extraordinary events and happenings of the 20th Century.

Skylab

By Melodie Reynolds-Diarra. Black Swan State Theatre Company and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company. Directed by Kyle J. Morrison. Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia. 16 Aug - 2 Sep 2018

There was a lovely community feel at the opening night of Black Swan State Theatre Company and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company’s co-production of Skylab. This World Premiere was introduced this a very warm Welcome to Country and a party atmosphere, very appropriate for a slightly irreverent, fun production that doesn’t take itself terribly seriously.

The Tales of Hoffmann

By Jacques Offenbach. Rockdale Opera Company. Rockdale Town Hall (NSW). August 18 – 26, 2018

The whisper in the foyer amongst regular patrons was that this production was the best one staged by the Rockdale Opera Company in many years. Walking into the Rockdale Town Hall I was immediately impressed with the pride in the company’s heritage. Posters adorned the walls promoted the company’s 70 years of service to the community, including two previous productions of this sparkling operetta.

Madame Butterfly

By Puccini, in an adaptation by Peter Hutchinson. Opera Australia. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. August 18, 2018 and touring.

Once again, Opera Australia, supported by some generous donors, is ‘on the road’. Performed in English, in an adaptation by Peter Hutchinson that re-sets the opera into the mid-1950s, and directed by John Bell, a cast of wonderful singers accompanied by a chamber orchestra are taking Puccini’s Madame Butterfly to twenty-nine venues in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT.

A Doll’s House, Part 2

By Lucas Hnath. Melbourne Theatre Company. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. 11 August – 15 September 2018

If you’ve wondered what Ibsen’s Nora Helmer did after she slammed that door and left her husband and three children, this sequel gives an answer.  An answer.  It’s fifteen years later and Nora (Marta Dusseldorp) returns – through that very same door.  She’s discovered that her husband Torvald (Greg Stone) never filed for divorce which means that they are still married and (under Norwegian law of the time, say 1895) she is in legal difficulties and could lose everything she has achieved over those fifteen years of independence.

The Crucible

By Arthur Miller. Stray Cats Theatre Directed by Karen Francis. The Fishtrap Theatre, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, WA. 15 - 18 Aug, 2018

Stray Cats Theatre presented a moving and heartfelt version of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in the intimate Fishtrap Theatre in the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre.

The set design (Karen Francis and Bronwyn White) reminds us that this is a small colonial settlement at the edge of an untamed wilderness, and the frequent British accents reflect the immigrant nature of this colony.

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