Reviews

Ear to the Edge of Time

By Alana Valentine. Sport for Jove. Seymour Centre. October 11 – 27, 2018

Set in the world of astronomical research, Alana Valentine’s compelling play explores how sexual discrimination can lurk within the traditional team ethic of science.

Astrophysicist Professor Jocelyn Burnbell , interviewed by Valentine, denied being cheated when her male supervisor won the 1974 Nobel Prize for what were her discoveries:  accepting the team leader, usually a bloke, collects the gong.

Mamma Mia! The Musical

Presented by Michael Coppel, Louise Withers & Linda Bewick in association with Adelaide Festival Centre. Music and lyrics by Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus (and some songs with Stig Anderson). Book by Catherine Johnson. Originally conceived by Judy Craymer. Additional material & arrangements: Martin Koch. Festival Theatre, Adelaide. 9 October - 18 November 2018.

In the nearly twenty years since its inception, Mamma Mia! has become far, far more than just one of the many immortal smash hits launched into the unsuspecting world of the 1970s by Swedish popmeisters (and Eurovision Song Contest winners) ABBA. It is a ‘jukebox musical’ whose success with the public has reached phenomenal proportions, going on to spawn not just a blockbuster onstage run, plus a movie adaptation (which set its own U.K. box office record as the most successful British cinema release in history), but also a recently released original screen sequel.

Dusty – The Original Pop Diva

Songs recorded by Dusty Springfield, book by John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Melvyn Morrow. Babirra Music Theatre. Director: Christian Cavallo. Musical Director: Stacey-Louise Camilleri. Choreographer: Jessica Mohi. The Whitehorse Centre. October 12 – 20, 2018

Babirra Music Theatre continues to produce top flight shows. It was not just the leading lady, but every role that was cast from strength.

Of course, most of the heavy lifting was done by Emily McKenzie as Dusty, and she met every challenge. She has a terrific voice, and we felt for this woman as she initially took up the fight to become a singer and then struggled with alcoholism and relationship issues. Many of her best vocal moments were when she was at her lowest ebb.

Tarzan

Music and lyrics by Phil Collins. Book by David Henry Hwang. Stray Cats Theatre Company. Directed by Karen Francis. Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, WA. 11-14 October, 2018

The Western Australian premiere of Tarzan burst into live in a very lavish production, presented by Stray Cats Theatre Company and Mandurah Performing Arts Centre.

The jungle of Western Africa is gorgeously recreated in a highly detailed set designed by Bronwyn White and Karen Francis, with projection by Alan White, establishing high production values from the outset. Costumes are also impressive, with makeup, by team led by Jodie Mars, giving credence to the gorilla characters.

Frogman

Devised by Curious Directive (UK). Melbourne International Arts Festival. Theatre Works. 11 – 15 October 2018

With a solid gripping story that is not too long,  and finely tuned treatment and operation of Virtual Reality, Frogman is excellent festival fare.

The Boy from Oz

Music & Lyrics: Peter Allen. Book: Nick Enright. MLOC Productions. Director/Choreographer: Rhylee Nowell. Musical Director: Matthew Hadgraft. Shirley Burke Theatre. October 12 – 20, 2018

Having seen a professional production earlier this year, I wasn’t sure how I’d react to an amateur company performing The Boy From Oz, but came away feeling thoroughly entertained.

The stage was quite shallow and the band was on two levels at the back. Many entrances were made through the auditorium, which kept the audience involved.

Song for a Weary Throat

Conceived & performed by The Rawcus Ensemble & Invenio Singers. Rawcus Ensemble. Melbourne International Arts Festival. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. 10 – 14 October 2018

What happens after overwhelming catastrophe: a nuclear blast, carpet bombing, house to house street warfare?  A motely group of survivors gather in an empty, ravaged dance hall.  The explosions that put them there are shocking, deafening, dazzling, frightening.  Now these survivors look around, look inward, look at each other and find ways to realise that, yes, they are alive.  Now what? 

The Trojan Women

By Euripides, translated by Emily Wilson. Dionysus Theatre. McClelland Secondary Performing Arts, Karingal (Vic). 12-20 October, 2018

This year Dionysus Theatre looks back at an Ancient Greek tragedy - The Trojan Women – set against a backdrop of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Written by Euripides in 415 BC, director Emma Sproule has used a new translation by Emily Wilson, but has forged a new connotation on the tragedy through the lens of the Harvey Weinstein case.

Fire Gardens

Compagnie Carabosse/ Melbourne International Arts Festival. Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. 10-13 October 2018

Fire Gardens is everything you would hope.  It is one of those unique and rare experiences that can be enjoyed with a group of people or as a pensive individual in a crowd.  It is a unifying, nourishing, transcendent, personal journey.

My plus one and I wandered, happily intrigued, from sunset for at least 90 enjoyable minutes.  

An Enemy of the People

By Melissa Reeves after Henrik Ibsen. Belvoir. Upstairs Theatre. October 7 – November 4, 2018

Belvoir again sets an Ibsen in contemporary Australia, played out in another glass box with mics. And just like Belvoir’s Wild Duck, which even flew to success in Stockholm in Ibsen’s own homeland, this Enemy of the People translates into compelling Australian political theatre.

Catastrophe threatens the economy of a town when heavy metal pollutants force the closure of new baths. 

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