Reviews

The Nutcracker

Ballet based on ETA Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Choreographer: Ben Stevenson. Music: Pyoyr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Queensland Ballet. Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Nigel Gaynor. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 13-21 December 2019

This is the seventh successive year that Queensland Ballet has mounted The Nutcracker, and judging by the full-house of littlies and oldies audiences can’t get enough of it. The company deliver a simply joyous and magical production that is precision sharp and fresh.

The familiar story of Clara and her nocturnal dreams that whisk her to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets is beautifully danced and executed in this revered and popular classic.

Anna

Written and performed by Bagryana Popov. Directed by John Bolton, presented by La Mama Theatre, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton. 17-22 December, 2019.

The experiences that Popov alludes to in this theatre piece are quite chilling. The psychologically corrosive effect of secretive bureaucracies and the resulting paranoia are well displayed in the narrative. Her encounters with officials and administrators are imbued with complex layers of subterfuge. The central character seeks refuge from this grim reality through the writing of fantastical stories and this becomes an interesting coping mechanism. 

Disney’s Cinderella Kids

By Mack David, Al Hoffman, Jerry Livingston, Marcy Heisler and Bryan Louiselle. Bel Canto Productions. Directed by Kelsey Zampino. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth WA. Dec 15, 2019

Audiences needed to be quick to catch Bel Canto Productions’ Disney’s Cinderella Kids, as this charming little production played for just two performances. For those unfamiliar with MTI’s Kids series, these are bite sized musicals, often cut from longer shows, and are designed to be performed by very young casts. To supplement the 30 minute show, Bel Canto students added a musical theatre concert as a second act.

The Little Prince

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Directed by Michael Barlow. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Short St, Fremantle, WA. Jan 13 - Feb 1, 2020

It may seem a little strange to be reviewing a show that doesn’t open until January 13, but the media showing of The Little Prince comes after its very successful schools season, and the show will open to the public in mid-January. This beautiful revival from SPPT’s vaults is very moving, and a wonderful exploration of what is really important in life.

Handel’s Messiah

Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. November 13 – 15, 2019

Handel’s Messiah, composed in 1741, is an oratorio based on scriptural texts compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible. It highlights three of the major events in the life of Christ. His birth (the Christmas section), the Passion (the events leading to the crucifixion) and the Resurrection (the Easter section).

It is traditionally performed leading up to Christmas – and this year in many parts of England it will be the culmination of a year of performances of Handel’s works in celebration of the 250th anniversary of his death.

Possession Fear Never Sleeps

Concept by Ryan S. McNally. Halcyon Playhouse. Creative Consultants - Chantal Wilson and Pat McMahon. Roxy Lane Theatre, Maylands WA. Dec 6-14, 2019

Relatively new theatre company Halcyon Playhouse already has established itself as a company that specialises in the horror genre. This immersive horror experience is presented as part of their “ImmerSION” series and places the audience as flies on the wall of a group therapy session for sufferers of sleep paralysis.

A Very Naughty Christmas

Devised by Alex Woodward. Written by Alex Woodward, David Lawrence, Maureen Bowra and Matthew Semple. Directed by Dan Venz and Maureen Bowra. Produced by Alex Woodward and Woodward Productions. Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse. 4 - 15 December, 2019

If you’re tired of the kids getting all the best entertainment this festive season, A Very Naughty Christmas is just the present you’ve wanted. This sexy Santa sack full of cabaret style entertainment is cheeky adult amusement at its finest. It’s well cast, cleverly written and adeptly presented by the talented cast and crew.

Cirque Stratosphere

The Works Entertainment.  Canberra Theatre Centre 10–21 December 2019, and touring.

The latest production from Tim Painter and The Works Entertainment, Cirque Stratosphere, is, ladies and gentlemen, no mere sequence of world-class feats of hoop diving, extreme skating, pole dancing, hoop dancing, strongman and trapeze acrobatics, comedy, and all the other spectacles we’ve come to accept as normal.  It is certainly all of that; but, defying all expectations, it is a breakthrough experience in circus, and several intense aspects of the experience contributed to achieve that.  There was the unexpectedness of the thematic cons

The Taming of the Shrew

By William Shakespeare. Presented by Melbourne Shakespeare Company, directed by Jennifer Sarah Dean. St. Kilda Botanical Gardens. 7-22 December, 2019.

Melbourne Shakespeare Company consistently provides lively and enjoyable outdoor productions of Shakespeare plays. This show is an excellent example of the body of work they have produced. This performance is unique as it goes much further in its consideration of the themes housed within the text. The play is open to a variety of interpretations and has often generated debates about its subversive value, but it undoubtedly sheds light on the patriarchal mechanisms (even at the most fundamental level of intimacy) that operate to oppress women.

Collaborative Comedy: The Cranston Cup

Colourful creativity! Terrific teamwork! Call it what you will. The Cranston Cup is the competitive culmination of weeks of impressive improvisation. Six teams strutting their stuff in sensational scenarios – simply scintillating!

This year’s Theatresports final was everything the eclectic audience expected - funny, clever, inventive, fast moving.

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