Reviews

En Suite

By Joe O’Byrne. Villanova Players (Qld). The Theatre, Morningside, Brisbane, 31 August - 15 September, 2012

En Suite in the hands of Villanova came across as a slight play whose virtues were not fully realized. First produced by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 2002, Joe O’Byrne’s work was irreverent, humorous and glib, but a piece that lacked any real heart. The fact that Samantha Tierney’s production was plodding rather than pacy did not help.

In regional Ireland, Evelyn Dwyer runs a bed and breakfast with her two daughters, Ella, a lesbian, and the heavily pregnant unmarried, Emer.

The Kitchen Sink

By Tom Wells. Red Stitch Actors Theatre (Vic). 31 August – 22 September, 2012

Tom Wells’ The Kitchen Sink gets the balance just right: narrative, acting, stagecraft.  It is engaging despite its low pace, and warming for its emotional honesty.  Director Terence O’Connell has done the company proud with his directorial debut for the Red Stitch Actors Theatre.

Mum's In

Written and performed by Vashti Hughes. Bordello Theatre, Kings Cross Hotel, Kings Cross. Sundays 5pm from 26 August 2012. Director: James Winter. Music: Ross Johnston.

Telling tales from Razorhurst           

Chaim’s Love Song

By Marvin Chernoff. JYM Theatre Co. Director: Brendan Cohen. Phoenix Theatre, Elwood. September 1-9, 2012

“Chaim” means life in Yiddish. It’s also the name of the central character in this gentle play about an old Jewish man telling the story of his life to a lonely young gentile woman in a park in Brooklyn. Writer Marvin Chernoff is not Woody Allen or Neil Simon, but the play has its own charm, humour and poignancy, hence it is a fitting first for JYM, who are noted for their musicals.

Nunsense

Book, Music and Lyrics by Dan Goggin. Rockdale Musical Society (NSW), Bexley RSL Club. August 31 – September 9, 2012.

They don’t make musicals which send up religious practises like they used to. In the audience for Nunsense were some real life nuns in civilian dress. They loved every minute of it.

Would the same happen today with Mormon clergy attending the much sharper and less affectionate Book of Mormons, currently on Broadway?  Perhaps not.

Being gentle enough for nuns to giggle at without blushing means that Nunsense lacks a little edge. A great deal of material about the Catholic church is left untouched.

Out Of Order

By Ray Cooney. Director: Bob Bramble. Basin Theatre Group (Vic) August 10th – Sept 1st.

Ray Cooney is no Will Shakespeare and may not appeal to intellectual aficionados of “The Theatre” but he certainly knows how to entertain an audience ----all he needs is a series of doors (and in this case a window) to create farce in the great traditions of  Commedia dell’arte. Forget about the plot…basically it’s about a government minister who arranges a tryst with an opposition secretary, only to find a “dead” body lodged in the window of the suite at their Westminster hotel.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Ballet by John Neumeier based on the play by William Shakespeare. Music: Felix Mendelssohn and Gyorgy Ligetti. Conductor: Simon Hewett Playhouse, QPAC. 30 August 2012.

“Enchanting” and “magical” are two overused superlatives used by critics to define a production but frankly there are no two better words to describe the Hamburg Ballet’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. John Neumeier’s choreography and staging, although first conceived in 1977, still charms with distinction 35 years later.

Top Girls

By Caryl Churchill. Director: Jenny Kemp. MTC Sumner Theatre. August 25 – September 29, 2012.

Caryl Churchill is a fine playwright and product of the early feminist movement which saw us burn our bras and risk bruised kneecaps, in a futile attempt to prove that equal meant “same”. And yet Top Girls is as much an indictment of that movement as it is a vindication, and that’s why it is still fresh and relevant today.

Conversation Piece

A Belvoir and Lucy Guerin Inc co-production. Belvoir Theatre, Sydney. Choreographer/Director: Lucy Guerin. 25 August – 16 September, 2012.

This is bracing experimental work right at the heart of Sydney’s theatre establishment. Based on a nightly eight-minute improvised conversation, six performers — with their iPhones set to the Voice Memo application — explore the recorded words, dig for new meanings, swap roles, present increasingly weird re-imaginings of the original conversation. Three of the cast are billed as actors, three as dancers, though the distinctions are often blurred. Together, using an amplified musical app, they even make a reasonable rock band.

OZMADE MUSICALS 2012: The Last Ten Years

Musical Director: Aaron Joyner. Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, 27 August 2012

The annual OzMade Musicals concert has become an integral part of the Magnormos production schedule. To celebrate the company’s tenth anniversary this year’s concert presented not only excerpts from two new shows, Partners and Happy People, but devoted the entire second act to highlights from Magnormos productions over the past ten years. It was an exciting night with a clutch of highlights.

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