Reviews

Play Things

Written and directed by Scott McArdle. The Blue Room Studio, Perth Cultural Centre. Nov 5 - 23, 2019

A strongly written new work, crafted by Scott McArdle, this edgy and moving coming of age story follows a pair of teenagers as they help each other deal with trauma.

Late one afternoon, young teens wander through the bush in an outer suburb. Lucy says, with some excitement, that there is a dying kangaroo bleeding badly from its guts. Arnold follows.

While it sounds rather disturbing, and deals with a slew of confronting issues, this beautifully told story is one of the best new works of the year, and a wonder to watch.

Cinderella

Unpublished
Composed by Sergei Prokofiev. Choreographed by Ben Stevenson OBE. The Queensland Ballet. Artistic Director Li Cunxin AO. Canberra Theatre. 5–10 November 2019.

Beautiful, kind-hearted, loving Cinderella is sadly condemned to a life in the cinders by her nasty stepmother and heinously ugly stepsisters, all of whom love nothing better than themselves and making Cinderella’s life a misery.  Meanwhile, the handsome prince of the kingdom is about to hold a spring ball.  Naturally, the nasty stepmother is determined that one of her ugly daughters will find favour with the Prince and make him her husband.

Chicago

Music: John Kander. Lyrics: Fred Ebb. Book: David Thompson, based on the script by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse. John Frost and Suzanne Jones Production. Director: Karen Johnson Mortimer. Musical Director: Daniel Edmonds. Choreographer: Gary Chryst. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. Opening Night. 7 November 2019

It seems only a minute ago that Chicago was in town, but in actual fact it’s been ten years since this vaudeville valentine played QPAC. In that time it has become the longest-running revival in Broadway history, and the longest-running American musical on Broadway, only surpassed by the Andrew Lloyd Webber behometh The Phantom of the Opera. It’s the musical for our age - big, brassy and vulgar with buckets of cynicism. Its satire of the ‘celebrity criminal’ hasn’t dated and seems even more relevant in this day and age of YouTube posts.

Sidesault at the Melba 2019: A Festival of Experimental Circus.

Circus OZ, Melba Speigeltent, 35 Johnston St, Collingwood. 7-17 November, 2019.

The festival is comprised of six performances showcasing both individual and group shows. Spit, Invisible Things and Never... Calm Down! are three shows which can be seen from 7-10 November. The shows are all very different from one another, in both tone and content, but each one tests the boundaries of circus and cabaret performance art. The ideas are provocative, the performances are edgy, and even sometimes confronting.

Cosi

By Louis Nowra. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Sarah Goodes. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Nov 1 - Dec 14, 2019

Sitting in the theatre next to a former psychiatric nurse, she was struck by how accurate the illnesses portrayed in the play were to real life. One “patient” in the drama was suffering from depression, another was bipolar, one suffered from an eating disorder, there is also drug addiction, pyromania, a patient afflicted by obsessive compulsive behaviour and another with a chronic shyness and social anxiety disorder. Any closer to home and my companion might have hopped onto the stage and completed a pill round. 

The Year of Magical Thinking

By Joan Didion, adapted from her memoir. Directed by Lawrence Strangio. Fortyfivedownstairs. 31 October - 17 November, 2019

Early in this eighty-five minute monologue, Joan Didion (via Jillian Murray) quotes her husband, John Gregory Dunne: ‘Why must you always have the last word?

Doubt: A Parable

By John Patrick Shanley. The Theatre on Chester, Epping, NSW. November 1 – 22, 2019

John Patrick Shanley’s 2004 play is set in 1964 in America, but it could have been set here or in the UK, or anywhere in Europe, because the ‘doubts’ it exposes about child abuse had been whispered about and covered up by families and churches and other institutions long before 1964.

Director Carla Moore suggests that the year is symbolic because it marks the introduction of the American Civil Rights Act and Vatican II’s more relaxed image of the Catholic Church – both symbolic of the fact that the 1960s was a time of political and social change.

The Merry Wives of The Merchant of Venice (or Windsor)

By William Shakespeare. The Raw Shakespeare Project. Tapanappa Wines (SA). Saturday 2 November, 2019. Continuing at various venues until November 22.

The Merry Wives of The Merchant of Venice (or Windsor) is an evening devoted to the presentation of two specially adapted and truncated versions of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

There are many things about this Raw Shakespeare Project’s production that are wonderful, not least it being performed under the banner of ‘Shakespeare in the Vines’ at a number of South Australian vineyards, including Tapanappa Wines in the Adelaide Hills, which is where this production premiered.

Confusions

By Alan Ayckbourn. PAANDA. Directed by Troy Coelho, Hannah Quaden, Anna Stewart, Ella Gorringe and Cat Acres. 25 Mouat St, Fremantle. Oct 31 - Nov 9, 2019

Confusions by Alan Ayckbourn is a series of five interconnected one act plays. The plays are all loosely linked to the play before them by characters or location, and also through the shared themes of isolation, obsession and the human need for connection.

Lyrical Reflections

Southern Cross Soloists. Violin: Amalia Hall. Concert Hall, QPAC. 3 November, 2019.

Tim Hall’s “Cry Stone Walls” of the Yorkshire dales is a perfect image to adorn the cover of Southern Cross Soloists final program for the year, Lyrical Reflections, featuring as it does two iconic works from English composers Elgar and Vaughn Williams.

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