Reviews

Her Hour Upon The Stage

By Lucy Seale. Shakespearean Jeans. The Butterfly Club, Melbourne. Nov 27 – 30, 2019.

The Melbourne based theatre company Shakespearean Jeans, established in 2017 by Lucy Seale together with Nicola Dobinson, have taken it in their stride to come up with a wonderful reinvention of Macbeth.

Matriarch

Written by Sandy Greenwood and Oliver V Cowley. Directed by Jasmin Sheppard. Presented by QPAC as part of Clancestry 2019. Cremorne Theatre, 27 - 30 Nov 2019

Upon entering the Cremorne, you’re greeted with a huge representation of Australian Aboriginal artwork projected on screen at the back of the stage. Beneath it, simple but effective set design of natural elements – grasses, rocks, shells – along with indigenous art depicting a creek on the floor immediately transport you to the bush. A soundtrack of bird and animal calls, and live didgeridoo played by Minjarrah Jarrett further enhance the mood as the performer, Sandy Greenwood emerges on stage.

Sick: What Doesn’t Kill You Make You Stronger.

Conceived and Directed by Gavin Marshal Presented by NICA. 2019 Third Year Ensemble Show, 39-59 Green Street, Prahran. 27 November – 7 December, 2019.

The premise of this performance is a tricky one and seeing the humour in a hospital setting is not easy to achieve. The show hovers somewhere between the comedic and the macabre but more work needs to be done to strike the right balance between the two.

The Odd Couple

By Neil Simon. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 22 November – 29 December 2019

Neil Simon’s spectacularly famous New York comedy gets the Christmas call this year at the Ensemble. After playing two years on Broadway (starting 1965), there was the brilliant film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, followed by 5 seasons of TV follow-ups (1970-75), further TV adaptations, plus 2 rewrites for the stage. It’s Simon’s most famous play, drenched with gags and one-liners, and the Ensemble - with 8 players on a nifty, packed setting (by Hugh O’Connor) of a 14th floor Upper West Side flat ‑ throws big resources into this production.

The Drill

Women’s Circus. The Drill Hall, West Footscray. Nov 21 – Dec 1, 2019.

The Women’s Circus presents their triennial large-scale production as part of this year’s second Due West Festival in Footscray. It is a nostalgic journey conducted in an original Drill Hall, once used as a military training venue for local young male volunteers before they headed off to battle in World War One.

The Drill Hall is also the residence of Women’s Circus, a committed feminist organization since 1991, who have consistently provided women the opportunity to develop self-confidence and skills using creative circus training methods.

The Lyin’ Queen

Directed and Conceived by Trevor Ashley. Written by Phil Scott and Trevor Ashley. Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. November 26 - December 1, 2019

The drag artist and musical theatre performer Trevor Ashley has produced and starred in a number of hilarious cabaret and theatre shows, such as Liza (on a E)Little Orphan trAshleyFat Swan and The BodyBag. As those names indicate, his humour is naughty, often dirty, but the jokes squarely hit their mark. His new show The Lyin’ Queen is a less obvious pitch - setting its sights on a broad number of targets - but ranks among his best.

Kiss of the Spider Woman

Book Terence McNally. Music John Kander. Lyrics Fred Ebb. Based on the novel by Manuel Puig. Melbourne Theatre Company. Southbank Theatre. 18 November – 28 December 2019

Kiss of the Spider Woman is a tragedy, a tale of courage, love and redemption.  It is set in a prison in an unnamed South American dictatorship – a place of imprisonment without trial, murder and torture for subversives and ‘perverts’.  John Kander and Fred Ebb were drawn to stories with an underbelly of wry cynicism and harsh reality – Cabaret, Chicago – but this is darker than most. Any music theatre devotee will want to see this production of a work by these two masters. 

Christmas Actually

Created by Adam Brunes and Naomi Price. Featuring the music from the movie Love Actually. La Boite Presents The Little Red Company Production. Roundhouse Theatre, 27 November – 7 December, 2019 and Sydney Opera House, December 18 - 21, 2019

Between festival favourite Love/Hate Actually and the joyful and jolly Christmas Actually, there’s been a whole lot of love for Richard Curtis’ film Love Actually on Brisbane stages in recent years. This production is a jubilant homage to all of the wonderful songs in the much-loved Christmas cinematic perennial. The film is a balance of the ridiculously romantic and the harshly realistic sides of all kinds of loving relationships, with its opening monologue and dénouement feeling ultimately optimistic.

Spamalot

Based on the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Book and lyrics by Eric Idle. Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Directed by Alex Lanham. November 23 – January 18, 2019.

Most of us have heard of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table based at Camelot. Arthur supposedly existed around the fifth century but most historians now believe it all to be a myth. The Monty Python film took this to preposterous lengths and this musical has gone even further. Thus, we have King Arthur and his knights of the round table – when he can convince some to join him – searching for the holy grail. Add singing and dance to the farcical situations, and the diverse people Arthur meets, and the end product is Spamalot. Wow!

Legally Blonde

Music and Lyrics Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, Book by Heather Hach, based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the MGM movie (2001). James Terry Collective. Chapel off Chapel. 23 November – 8 December 2019

Legally Blonde carries its ‘message’ so lightly and brightly that this feminist fairy tale wins us over with ease.  Especially in this splendid production from the James Terry Collective in which the cast sparkles, and Katie Weston’s fifteen-piece band (four trumpets!) pumps out one upbeat tune after another.  If things get sad, it’s temporary: our heroine is up and at ‘em again in a flash.

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