Reviews

The Threepenny Opera music by Kurt Weill, text and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht

Newcastle Festival Opera. Cessnock and Newcastle (NSW) venues. June 4 to 20.

THE Threepenny Opera was written in 1928 as a satirical commentary on the greed of those who made fortunes out of the economic recovery that followed World War I. Eight decades on, with the revelations about financial practices that emerged from the global financial crisis, it remains a pertinent and darkly funny musical.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Theatre Royal Haymarket Company. Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide until 12 June. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House – From June 15.

Who is Godot? Where is Godot? Why are we all waiting for Godot? I wouldn't want to tell you and spoil the surprise, but I can say that despite knowing you never actually find out that answer, Sir Ian McKellen and Roger Rees made two hours of the most edge of your seat theatre I have ever seen.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Stooged Theatre. Shakespeare-on-Avon Festival, Gloucester (NSW). May 14 to 15. The Playhouse, Newcastle (NSW). July 28 to 31

As its name suggests, Stooged Theatre is a company with a passion for overt comedy. Its actors, mostly recent graduates from Newcastle University, also love Shakespeare. In their previous productions of Shakespeare’s comedies, unsubtle humour sometimes undermined good ideas. But this Midsummer Night’s Dream showed how youthful enthusiasm can win over mature and demanding audience members.

The Threepenny Opera

By Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill. Malthouse Theatre and the Victorian State Opera. Merlin Theatre until June 19. Season sold out

Since the inspiring launch of Michael Kantor’s final season as Artistic Director at Malthouse, tickets for The Threepenny Opera completely sold out. The anticipation for this co-production has been palpable. I was so, so lucky to get seats – albeit in ‘the gods’ above the orchestra and almost above the action, where I got to watch the lid of this metaphorical pressure cooker fly off.

Measure For Measure

Written by William Shakespeare. Adapted & Directed by Benedict Andrews. Company B Belvoir, Sydney. Set: Ralph Myers. Lighting: Nick Schlieper. Music/Sound: Stefan Gregory. Video: Sean Bacon. June 5 – July 25.

Shakespeare’s late ‘problem comedy’ gets a rare airing at the Belvoir in a full-on, jaw-dropping production by rising ringmaster Benedict Andrews. Well, my jaw dropped several times in the course of an unsettling and challenging evening.

A Lobster Tale

Written and directed by Stephan Jean De Jonghe KADS Theatre, Kalamunda, WA, World Premiere. May 12 – June 5.

Local writer and director Stephan Jean De Jonghe’s latest play is an adaptation of a play in which Stephan made his acting debut – Lovelife of a Crayfish by John Gill. It is clear that Stephan has great affection for the story in this gently told play. A sweet and moving story, it held the audience well, but like its predecessor at KADS this year, it would have made a superb One Act, rather than a “nice” full-length show.

Dusty - The Original Pop Diva

By John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Melvyn Morrow Bankstown Theatrical Society (NSW). May 29 to June 5.

Twenty-year-old Amy Toledano might have been channeling Dusty Springfield in her impressive performance in the title role of Bankstown Theatrical Society’s production of Dusty.

Splendid choreography, wigs and frocks also helped evoke the diva, as well as the 60s and subsequent decades in a big way. Musical Director Greg Crease’s impressive orchestra completed the illusion from the first notes of the overture.

Oresteia

Adapted by Tom Wright from the classic plays by Aeschylus. Sydney Theatre Company. Until July 4.

If you enjoy well-written updates of Greek mythology then Oresteia will both intrigue and entertain you. I was reminded very much by this production of the wit and clarity of recently released novels by Lindsay Clarke, which interpret the myths through modern eyes.

Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn

Stella Green Productions and Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Director: Byron Kaye. Darlinghurst Theatre, Potts Point. May 27 – June 27

This jolly farce written in 1975 by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn follows four married couples over one long night and the intertwining machinations of their interconnected relationships. This production opens with three ready-made beds onstage and shows three of the four couples getting ready for the evening's events. The catalyst that sets up the play for the entirety of the following chain of events is when Susannah, Trevor's wife, springs him passionately kissing his ex girlfriend, Jan.

The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl

Black Swan State Theatre Company and Queensland Theatre Company at the Playhouse, Perth (WA). Director: Kate Cherry. 29 May – 19 June

Set in the sterile white house of successful doctor Lane, we meet Matilde, a Brazilian maid, who is in mourning for her parents who died laughing. Cleaning depresses Matilde, who would rather use her time to invent the world’s funniest joke. Fortunately Lane’s sister Virginia loves to clean and secretly takes over Matilde’s job.

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