Reviews

The Edge

By Nick Choo. Catface Productions. Directed by Levon J Polinelli. The Blue Room Theatre, Northbridge, WA. 29 May - 16 June, 2018

The Edge is unusual in that the central character, Josh, is never seen. We learn a lot about Josh in the two hour show. Josh is the favourite son of his mother; his brother feels the burden of caring for him; he has found a close friend in the café in which he works; his former flat mate has a crush on him; he has had the same best friend since childhood and he has recently proposed to his girlfriend. Josh is a high achiever, very artistic, but is also very troubled and is living on 'the edge'.

My Sister Feather

By Olivia Satchell. La Mama Courthouse, 30 May – 10 June, 2018

A woman with eyes as bright as her no-brand turquoise track suit enters the stage with a sullen look on her face; quietly as if she doesn’t want anyone to notice she’s there. She checks if she can glean anything from the out-of-order vending machine. She defiantly plonks herself on the bolted-down table in the middle of the room. An ear-piercing beep blasts until she slides nonchalantly onto a chair. Egg, as she is called, is in prison.

Alice's Adventures Under Ground

By Christopher Hampton. Hamley Productions. Earl Arts Centre Launceston and Theatre Royal Backspace. Director: Andrew Casey. 3-5 and 1-9 June 2018

The set, the work of Jake Sanger, is enticing. The Victorian parlour, however, is not all that it seems, much like the conflicted man, Lewis Carroll. Projections and back lighting augment scenes in which Chris Hamley, as Carroll, narrates his tales. These are played out by an ensemble of three highly capable and versatile actors with great energy and humour.

These playfully mad episodes are juxtaposed against darker scenes in which Carroll appears to confront other demons.

Pancake Opus

By Sandra Fiona Long. Arts House Warehouse, North Melbourne. May 31 – June 19, 2018

Pancake Opus is a hunky and cathartic performance written and performed by Sandra Fiona Long. This show has been cleverly designed as an opus like structure, featuring many composite skits revolving around the making of pancakes.

Seussical

Music: Stephen Flaherty. Lyrics: Lynn Ahrens. Penrith Musical Comedy Company. Directors: Bek Want, Brenden Neaton. Musical Director: Craig Parris. Choreographer: Hannah Lansley. The Joan Performing Arts Centre, Penrith. April 13 – 21, 2018.

If you missed Penrith’s Seussical then you missed a spectacular treat. This big bold musical that brings together major characters from the books of Dr Seuss was not only fantastic quality entertainment but was also a lesson in crowd management. There were 91 in the cast and whenever all or most of them were on stage (which was lots of times) they were positioned in such a way so that each one could always be easily seen. I don’t know how directors Bek Want and Brenden Neaton achieved this feat and made it look easy.

The Nightingale and the Rose

After Oscar Wilde. Theatre Works and Little Ones Theatre. Theatre Works, Acland Street, St Kilda VIC. 30 May - 10 June 2018

Oscar Wilde’s brief satirical allegory is loaded with allusive symbols and this Little Ones Theatre production does not depart far from it in terms of plot or indeed what spoken dialogue there is. The salient differences are in gender switches and the queer aesthetic, and in making Wilde’s ironic humour more explicit.  The Nightingale’s ‘sweetest song’, for instance, not only becomes an operatic aria, but she has some uncertainty deciding just which song is her sweetest.

Be More Chill

Book by Joe Tracz. Music and Lyrics by Joe Iconis. Phoenix Theatre. Directed by Benjamin Albert. Memorial Hall, Spearwood, WA. May 18 – Jun 2, 2018

Be More Chill is a relatively new musical, based on Ned Vizzini's novel of the same name, with a book by Joe Tracz and Music and Lyrics by Joe Iconis. Strangely for a show which is yet to have a Broadway (or even Off-Broadway) run, it also has an “underground” or cult following, which has led to capacity houses and requiring Musical Director Krispin Maesalu to make (an obviously 'once burned' announcement) that audience members are requested not to sing along “even if you DO know all the words”.

The Yeomen of the Guard

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Eastwood Uniting Church Musical Society. May 18 – June 2, 2018

EUCMS’ performance of the classic Gilbert & Sullivan operetta The Yeomen of the Guard had a very strong Community Theatre feel throughout all aspects of the production. The limitations of the stage space and orchestra area of Eastwood Uniting Church Hall didn’t deter the company from using a cast of 28 performers, which filled the Hall with a very full sound at all times but also ensutred a crowded stage in the ensemble scenes.

Singin’ in the Rain

Music and lyrics by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed. Script by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Babirra Music Theatre (Vic). Director: Alan Burrows. Musical Director: Amy Wert. Choreographer: Kristy Griffin. The Whitehorse Centre, Nunawading. June 1 – 16, 2018

Babirra Music Theatre was at its absolute best again. Though Singin’ in the Rain is not a great piece of theatre, with its two dimensional characters and melodramatic story line, it is a delightful romp and has some spectacular dance sequences.

It started with a film being shown during the overture, introducing the main characters, which was a nice touch.

Sense & Sensibility

By Kate Hamill. Based on the novel by Jane Austen. State Theatre Company South Australia. The Playhouse, Canberra. 29 May – 2 June 2018.

Improving on a well-written classic is a goal often missed in theatre, and improving on it while remaining faithful to its author’s writing and intent means aiming high indeed.  How do you infuse a well-known work with surprise or even freshness without adding to or altering what the author wished to communicate?

 

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