Reviews

The 39 Steps

By Patrick Barlow, adapted from the book by John Buchan and the Hitchcock film. Castle Hill Players (NSW). Pavilion Theatre. July 27 – August 18, 2012.

Since its resounding success in London and New York, this play has become the new ‘pop’ comedy for community theatre. It has much appeal. To begin with, for the audience, the story is well known through book, the film and television make-overs – and the dashing but beleaguered Richard Hannay was, after all, the very first of the British super spies.  But for theatre practitioners, the play has even more altruistic appeal.

Prescription Murder

By William Link & Richard Levinson. Nash Theatre (Brisbane). July 14 – Aug 4, 2012.

There is something homely and familiar about this production. The play originated in 1960 as a radio play, Enough Rope, which morphed a year later into the present stage play. It introduced shambling, dishevelled policeman Lieutenant Columbo. This character’s popularity led to a two-hour television movie, forerunner of the TV series Columbo.

Jekyll & Hyde

By Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildhorn. Gosford Musical Society (NSW). Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford. Director: Rob Hickey. July 27 – August 11, 2012

There’s some mystique around this 1990 musical. Though popular among aficionados because of several memorable songs and a seeming affinity with period blockbusters Les Miz and Phantom, Jekyll & Hyde has never had a professional production in Australia. So community theatre must lead the way — but only companies that, like the excellent Gosford Musical Society, have the resources and available talents to match the show’s considerable demands.

A Hoax

by Rick Viede. La Boite/Griffin Theatre co-production. SBW Stables Theatre. July 27 - September 1, 2012.

A Hoax is an impressive second play from Rick Viede, premiering in this La Boite/Griffin Theatre co-production. Viede’s targets are those artful peddlers of misery hoaxes, those writers of false memoirs of victimhood which are lapped up by our celebrity culture in love with glib tales of confession and redemption. Centre stage is Currah, an indigenous girl who was repeatedly raped in a cellar by her father.

Triangle

By Glyn Roberts. Presented by MKA (Winter Season). (Vic). Director: Tanya Dickson. Dramaturg: Jane E. Thompson. Set Designer: Eugyeene The. Costume Designer: Chloe Greaves. Lighting Designer: Rob Sowinski. Sound Designer: Russell Goldsmith. Co-Sound Designer: Chris Wenn. Voice Coach - Leslie Cartwright. Movement Consultant: Janine Watson. July 25 to August 4, 2012

Like an old haunting fairytale, Triangle seduces with the familiar, then commences a journey traversing the realms of passion, violence and the supernatural in a perfectly unexpected yet strangely anticipated manner.   

It is set in and around a supermarket like Tuesday, another terrific work presented by MKA in June.  However, unlike its predecessor, Triangle veers into fanciful, lyrical subliminal territory.

Grievous Angel: The Legend of Gram Parsons

Australian Premiere. By Michael Bate. Room 8 and AT Management (Vic). Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. Director Michael Bate. 20th – 29th July, 2012.

A country music fan I’m not. Yet there is something magnetic about this musical tribute to Gram Parsons despite a prevalence of twang, yodel and pedal slide.

Grievous Angel: The Legend of Gram Parsons is predominantly a biographical study in concert form. Constructed around thirty-three songs, it’s punctuated by scripted dialogue as the characters of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris are brought to life.

Metamorphoses

By Mary Zimmerman. Direction & Design: Dino Dimitriadis. Lighting Design: William Ratcliff. Featuring Jarrod Crellin, Rowan Freeman, Sophie Haylen, Richard Hilliar, Daniel Hunter, Jacqui Livingston, Danielle Maas, Alex Nicholas, Katrina Rautenberg, Katie Shearer, Tim Warden. Pact Space Erskineville NSW. 4-21 July 2012

Ovid’s erotic and audacious 12,000 line epic poem ‘Metamorphoses’ was written in the first century of the Roman Empire. These were turbulent times of experimentation, licentiousness, love and violence. Ovid’s poem recalls one hundred and fifty stories from Greek mythology that illustrate these compulsions in man. Mary Zimmerman turned some of the tales into theatre and director Dino Dimitriadis and his team were drawn to her invitation to “create images that amplify the text, lend it poetic resonance or even contradict it”.

Chicago

Book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse. Music by John Kander. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Townsville Choral Society, July 18 – 22, 2012.

It’s 10 years since Chicago was last seen in Townsville, so it was good timing for the Choral Society to bring back this vibrant, exciting show. Director Pat Nuttall put together a generally young, but certainly talented ensemble and the end result made for a wonderful night’s entertainment.

The Duchess of Malfi

By John Webster. Bell Shakespeare. Sydney Opera House, Playhouse. July 6 – August 5, 2012.

Jacobean playwright John Webster knew the older Shakespeare but shared none of his optimism in man’s ultimate nobility and good reason. Webster’s darker vision, captured in the hit premiere of The Duchess of Malfi back in 1613, is a relentlessly brutish view of man, instinctively violent and corrupted by power. Webster was perfectly enacted as that treacherous urchin in the film, Shakespeare in Love; the one who hunted back stage of the Globe killing rats and whinging that the plays weren’t bloody enough.

Money and Friends

David Williamson. Genesian Theatre (Sydney). July 21 – August 25, 2012.

Critical appraisals of David Williamson’s work often infer that the messages are ephemeral, the one-liners forgettable, the characters one dimensional.  Well, it is twenty years since he wrote Money and Friends, yet the underlying messages – both social and fiscal – still ring remarkably true and translate relatively well to a twenty first century setting. People are just as ambitious, just as greedy, just as gullible and just as vulnerable. Money still dominates, and, unfortunately, still causes rifts between families and friends.

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