Reviews

Ghosts

By Henrik Ibsen. The Curators independent theatre company. Adapted and directed by Michael Beh. The Curators Vintage Pop Up Theatre, 28 St Barnabas Place, Red Hill. July 19-August 4, 2019

The Curators independent theatre company began in Brisbane two years ago and this their fourth play is a mythical masterpiece.

Director Michael Beh has been working towards his adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts for the better part of 25 years.

He ekes out the realism, symbolism and theatricality of Ibsen’s work and traps all these elements in the pressure-cooker environment of a small pop up theatre off Waterworks Rd at Red Hill.

Table

By Tanya Ronder. White Box Theatre & Seymour Centre. Reginald Theatre, The Seymour Centre, Sydney. Director: Kim Hardwick. 26 July – 17 August 2019

Craftsman David Best married Elisabeth Maud late in 19th century England and, to celebrate, he made her a fine dining table. And in this play by British writer Tanya Ronder we watch as six generations of the Best family gather round the table — sometimes on it, sometimes under it, sometimes laid out dead upon it — in rural Lichfield, in Tanganyika, back in a hippie commune in England, and finally in London.

Les Misérables

Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Original French text byAlain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Holiday Actors and Warrnambool Theatre Company. Director: Cindy Lee Morgan. Musical Director: Sonia Beal. Vocal Director: Elana Agnew. Choreographer: Amelie Gleeson. Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool. July 20-27, 2019

I have never felt such a buzz at any theatrical event, amateur or professional. Tickets for Les Misérables presented at the Lighthouse Theatre Warrnambool sold quickly for a six performance season. This final night crowd was anticipating big things from Holiday Actors and Warrnambool Theatre Company’s first collaboration.

The Specialists

Written and performed by Michael Sams. Empire Theatre, North Australian Festival of the Arts, Townsville. 25 - 28 July. 2019.

It is a testament to the professionalism of actor/writer Michael Sams that he managed to overcome enormous odds to perform four different pieces in this self-written presentation.

Small Island

Adapted by Helen Edmundson, based upon the novel by Andrea Levy. National Theatre Live. Cinema Nova & other participating venues nationally. 3, 4, 6, 10 & 11 August 2019

This is a sprawling but spritely adaptation of Andrea Levy’s multiple award-winning novel.  Beginning in the colony of Jamaica before WWII, it tells an epic story of Jamaican Hortense (Leah Harvey), Englishwoman Queenie (Aisling Loftus) and Jamaican Gilbert (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr), across a span of ten years.  Smart, pale-skinned little Hortense (Keira Chansa) is separated from her beloved grandmother and installed in the fundamentalist Christian, middle-class family of her uncle and status-obsessed aunt.  Intended to give Hortense a ‘better future’, this mo

Blackrock

By Nick Enright. EbbFlow Theatre Co. St Martins Youth Arts Centre, South Yarra, Vic. July 25 – Aug 3, 2019.

Blackrock is often produced as a work for youth rather than for its weightier insights.  I have seen it several times and always gone away un­sure about exactly what writer Nick Enright was trying to say.  In fact I have suspected that it’s a flawed play.  However this production presents the text in a strong positive and persuasive light.  Nicola Bow­man directs a very satisfying and rewarding work of theatre where the action moves forward smoothly and swiftly leaving, in its wake, perceptive and complex insights.

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies

Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams. Sydney Theatre Company. Roslyn Packer Theatre. Directed by Kit Williams. July 23 - August 24, 2019

The audience was greeted with a blank stage – a model aeroplane was carried playfully by the cast, circling then ‘crashing’ onto the remote island where only English schoolboys have survived the accident. Bit by bit the stagecraft built. The cast thrillingly pass the conch from player to player as though they were a polished Rugby team. A scaffolding was wheeled in to signify the mountain where the boys soon climbed and lit a look out fire.

The Art of Coarse Acting

Six plays by Michael Green, Rupert Bean, and Jane Dewey.  Canberra Repertory, directed by Chris Baldock.  Theatre 3, 25 July – 10 August 2019.

Apparently, a coarse actor is one who manages to “limp on both legs simultaneously”.

Sir Terry Pratchett’s The Truth

Adapted by Stephen Briggs. ARENA Arts. Directed by Ron Arthurs. Roxy Lane Theatre, Maylands, WA. July 13-27, 2019

ARENA Arts have presented their ninth Terry Pratchett play, the WA premiere of The Truth, as adapted by Stephen Briggs. Featuring Discworld’s first newspaper, The Ankh-Morpork Times, it shows how “A lie can run around the world before the truth has got its boots on.” Brendan Ellis as William de Worde, accidental newspaper editor, ably leads cast of 19 actors playing 39 named characters, in a nicely measured central performance.

Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom: The Musical

Created by Baz Luhrmann. Book by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. Adapted by Terry Johnson. Music by Various*. Presented by Gosford Musical Society. Laycock Street Community Theatre. July 26th – August 10th, 2019.

Whether by choice or lack of suitable options (likely the latter), Strictly Ballroom is the Gosford Musical Society’s first foray into Australian musical theatre in well over a decade and it’s a triumph!

It’s always refreshing to hear Australian accents on stage and, judging from the audience reaction to the show, it’s also warmly welcomed. These are our stories; we should be seeing more of them on our community stages.

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