Reviews

Let Men Tremble

Directed & designed by Steven Mitchell Wright. The Danger Ensemble. Theatre Works, St Kilda. 14 – 25 August 2019

Let Men Tremble is ‘inspired by’ Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, The Scarlet Letter, the story of Hester Prynne in 17th century Salem.  She has a child out of wedlock, refuses to identify her lover, and is punished with imprisonment, humiliation and by being forced to wear the letter ‘A’ (for ‘Adulterer’) on her breast for the rest of her life. 

The Holy Kickons

By Servo Pie. Ron Hurley Theatre, Seven Hills Hub, Brisbane. Bris Funny Fest. 7 August to 1 September, 2019.

Bris Funny Festis an independent fringe festival that showcases local up-and-coming talent with performances in cafes and bars across the city. Servo Pie have taken over the Ron Hurley Theatre for two nights.

The Witches of Eastwick

By John Dempsey and Dana Rowe. Phoenix Ensemble, Beenleigh (Qld). July 26 – August 17, 2019

Eastwick is one of those morally uptight, gossipy little New England towns (where everyone knows everyone else's business) that have been sent up on stage and screen many times before. Three single women in the town — artist Alexandra (Samara Marinelli), musician Jane (Lara Boyle) and nervous, bookish Sukie (Danika Saal) — are tired of conforming to the town's moral code, as dictated by town matriarch Felicia Gabriel (Susan Stenlake), and discuss their ideal man over a few drinks.

Wild Cherries

By Daniel Keene. Directed by Beng Oh. La Mama Courtyard, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton. 14 - 25 August, 2019.

Daniel Keene’s story of contemporary forms of slavery is very confronting. He locates several characters in an unspecified location and makes it easy to imagine this harrowing social injustice occurring in familiar territory. This is what helps to evoke some of the more disturbing elements. His language is also extremely powerful. The characters are all trapped in a nightmarish circumstance that could be reminiscent of the post-apocalyptic sci-fi genre. The point being that such dystopian futures are already here.

Lady Liberty

Lucienne Weber. Holden St Theatres, Adelaide. August 12 & 13, 2019

Lady Liberty is a story of talent, transformation, love and lust set to great songs, topped with Lucienne Weber’s soaring vocals and a talented four piece band.

Cabaret is a fabulously convenient art form that allows good performers to reveal dark parts of themselves without delving too deep or bombarding us with self-indulgence.  Sharing personal journeys through music is a powerful way to connect because some part in the show will always resonate profoundly with someone. 

3 Weeks in Spring

Book and Lyrics by Ian Gerrard. Music by Russell Tredinnick. Endymion Productions. State Theatre, Sydney. August 13 – 17, 2019.

Walking into the Grand Dame that is the State Theatre is always a pleasure, but sadly this was the wrong venue to try out this brand new musical.

Instead of splashing out money renting this opulent picture palace, which was far from filled with just a few hundred patrons on opening night, the investment should have been directed on creative talent to develop the writing, choreography and stagecraft in a smaller venue.

Helping Hands

Presented by La Mama and A_tistic. La Mama Courthouse. 7 – 10 August 2019.

“Half the things we do for one another are help.”

This phrase was repeated in the play, in the program and by one of the directors in the Q&A session after the show.

Another poignant line from the show comes to mind.

“I don’t have the luxury of hiding the fact I need help.”

Helping Hands is an original work about how autistic and people with other neurodiversities experience help.

Girls’ Night Out

By Richard Strauss. State Opera of South Australia. The Town Hall, Adelaide. August 9, 2019.

When one thinks of Strauss, the composer Johann Strauss (the waltz king) naturally springs to mind. But, there is another equally brilliant Strauss, Richard Strauss (no relation).

Richard Georg Strauss (1864 -1949), was an outstanding German Romantic composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His music is more objective than Johann and focusses on emotions. His orchestrations are opulent and tempered by harmonic acerbity.

Girl’s Night Outis an inspired collaboration celebrating Strauss’ music for the female voice.

The New World – Music Inspired by America

Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Alondra de la Parra. Percussion: Martin Grubinger. Concert Hall, QPAC. August 10, 2019

On his premiere performance in Australia, Austrian ‘wunderkind’ Martin Grubinger showed why he is regarded as possibly ‘best multi-percussionist’ in the world. Surrounded by a battery of 23 percussion instruments, and playing from memory, he demolished Avner Dorman’s Frozen in Time in a frenzy of breathtaking mastery. To say it was an adrenalin pumping, white-knuckle, edge-of-your-seat rush was an understatement.

Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense

By P.G. Wodehouse, adapted by David and Robert Goodale. Richmond Players. Richmond School of Arts. August 10 – 24, 2019.

Sir Pelham Grenville (P.G.) Wodehouse (1881-1975) created the character of dithering English gentlemen Bertie Wooster and his impeccable valet, Jeeves in 1915. They made their hilarious way from 1915 to 1974 in a series of books, then through two TV series – one with Ian Carmichael and Dennis Price in the 1970s, the other with Stephen Fry and Hugh Lawrie in the 1990s. This charming adaptation by the Goodale Brothers is based on the novel The Code of the Woosters, first published in 1938.

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