Reviews

Nijinsky

Hamburg Ballet. Choreographer: John Neumeier. Presented by QPAC and Events Queensland in association with Brisbane Festival. The Playhouse, QPAC. 26, 27, 28 August 2012

What word describes an experience that leaves you elated, humble, and awed by prodigious talent? I want Stupendous, but critics bestowed that on Joan Sutherland.

Vaslav Nijinsky was to ballet what Mozart was to music: a child prodigy; accomplished creator in his field; and his brilliant career was cut short (in Nijinski’s case by the onset of mental illness). In parallel with Mozart, Nijinsky earned international star status as both dancer and choreographer.

Sleeping Beauty

By Pyotr Tchaikovsky. The Imperial Russian Ballet. Directed by Gediminas Taranda. Touring nationally until 11 November, 2012.

The Imperial Russian Ballet (not to be confused with the Russian National Ballet) is touring the world with this timeless work by Tchaikovsky, whose original choreography by Marius Petipa has been revised by Gediminas Taranda for the season.  The story is fairly discernible merely through watching (although I wouldn't have known without benefit of the programme or the ballet's web site that a dream sequence was just that).

Sayonara: Android-Human Theatre.

Presented by Arts Centre Melbourne. Produced by Osaka University, ATR Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory, Agora Planning LTD, Seinendan Theatre Company Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax. 6.30pm August 24, 2pm and 5pm August 25, 2012.

This hour long performance and discussion is something I will never forget. Sayonara is a fascinating cultural exchange and perplexing investigation of the potential of robot androids. And for this Melbourne can be very thankful to the Kenneth Myer Theatre Endowment Fund.

Tchaikovsky

The Eifman Ballet. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. August 22 – 26, 2012.

Boris Eifman is sometimes described as a choreographer-philosopher. In his productions he dips into history, psychology, aesthetics  and social comment. His ballet on composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky mixes all of these. Set to the music of some of Tchaikovskys best known works, the dancers present a dark view of the composer’s life.

Das Reingold

By Richard Wagner. Hamburg State Opera, Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Simone Young. Concert Hall, QPAC, Brisbane, 23 & 25 August, 2012.

Innumerable curtain calls and a thunderous standing ovation for Australian conductor Simone Young marked the opening night concert performance of Wagner’s Das Reingold, the innaugural production of Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s Hamburg Season.

Catch-22

By Joseph Heller. Director: Morgan Little. Assistant Director: Bojana Kos. National University Theatre Society (NUTS). ANU Arts Centre, 22 – 25 August 2012.

Catch-22 (1961), Joseph Heller’s best-known novel, was adapted by Heller as a stage play in 1971.  It’s a long, sprawling, convoluted work (and that’s saying it as a fan of the book). How can it be compressed into an evening’s theatrical work? And how could it possibly express the multitude of characters, motivations, behaviours and confusion?

CHESS

Music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus; Lyrics by Tim Rice. The Production Company. State Theatre, Melbourne until August 26, 2012.

When word got out in 1981 that Tim Rice, after splitting with Andrew Lloyd Webber, was planning a musical with The ABBA boys as his composer, there was scepticism and even some ridicule:- “A Queen, a Bishop and a Knight walked into a record store and said “Have you got any ABBA songs?” Of course, those of us who were avid ABBA fans, who knew the musical sophistication of the counterpoint in such songs as ‘The Name of the Game’, couldn’t wait.

Little Shop of Horrors

By Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. Shire Music Theatre (NSW). Sutherland School of Arts. August 17 – 26, 2012.

Romance, rock’n’roll, comedy, B-Grade Hollywood horror movie send-up, sado-masochism and a man-eating plant – what more could you ask for in a musical?

Kenney Ogilvie’s production for Shire Music Theatre is one of those special little community theatre treats.

The Body Snatcher

By Scott Barsotti (based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s story). Brisbane Arts Theatre, 11 Aug – 8 Sept, 2012.

This is more than a horror classic, finely acted; it is also a mind bender.

RLS based his story on the 1820s Burke and Hare murders: two grave robbers ended up murdering people to meet demand for cadavers for Edinburgh surgeons’ dissection and technical training.

The Memorandium

Barking Spider Visual Theatre. Theatre Works St Kilda. Aug 16 - Sept 1, 2012.

The wonderfully named Barking Spider Visual Theatre has created a show as warm and nourishing to the soul as the cups of hot chocolate handed out to audience members as they arrive. A fascination with objects led artistic director, and performer Penelope Bartlau, to create and co-direct a show about why we hold on to things, or perhaps why they hold on to us.

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