Reviews

Beyond Reasonable Doubt

By Geoffrey Archer. Peridot Theatre (Vic). Director: Annette De Boer. Feb 4 – 19, 2011.

Peridot opened 2011 with Geoffrey Archer’s courtroom drama Beyond Reasonable Doubt.

QC Sir David Metcalfe, on trial for murder of his terminally ill wife, is being prosecuted by his old rival Anthony Blair-Booth QC.

The opening court room set was simple yet very effective with black curtains at stage rear, the judge’s seat centre stage, and the witness box stage right. A table and two chairs were placed at each side of the stage for the defendant, the prosecutor and their respective assistants.

The Divine Miss Bette

Slide, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst (NSW). Jan 27, Feb 17 and Mar 24, 2011.

Were you there when the Divine Miss M first strutted outrageously across Australian stages in the late 70s?

I was!

I’m not generally a great fan of artist tribute shows, but this vital Bette Midler cabaret show is a definite exception.

Go with the flow as Catherine Alcorn struts the small stage of Sydney’s Slide and this show might well transport you back to Sydney’s State Theatre more than three decades ago.

Spring Awakening

Book and Lyrics by Steven Sater. Music by Duncan Sheik. Shire Music Theatre. Jan 28 – Feb 6, 2011.

In-your-face coming-of-age rock musical Spring Awakening, with themes including teenage sexuality (heterosexual, homosexual and masturbation), child abuse and youth suicide will shock some, and not be for all tastes.

Yet its flip side attraction, the beauty and pain of the journey through puberty and sexual discovery that the musical travels, and that rock score, will certainly appeal to many others, including younger audiences.

Comedy of Errors.

The Australian Shakespeare Company. Shakespeare Under the Stars. Written by William Shakespeare. Directed by Glenn Elston. Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. December 21, 2010 - March 12, 2011.

If you're one of those people who stays away from Shakespeare believing him impenetrable, then you've probably never seen his plays performed well.

As Comedy of Errors is one of his less well-known plays, some background will help.

Manly Mates

By Frank Hatherley, by arrangement with David Spicer Productions. Canberra Dramatics. Director: James Stevens. Tuggeranong Arts Centre. Jan 27-29, Feb 2-5, 2011.

Canberra Dramatic’s staging of Frank Hatherley’s Manly Mates harks back to the breezy corruption that used to be currency in New South Wales. In this farce based on real powerbrokers from the 1970s, duffle bags of money appear, alcohol is downed like water and women were expected to flash their assets on demand.

Spring Awakening

Young Australian Broadway Chorus. Director: Robert Coates. National Theatre, St Kilda. Jan 27 – Feb 5.

Spring Awakening is a beautiful and timeless piece of theatre. This version of the musical was cast almost entirely with 17 year olds who to the very last one hold the chilling purity of voice that embodies the sweetness and terror of puberty. Each and every young actor displayed an unspoilt tonal quality in their singing voice that was enchanting. One could sit in the theatre blindfolded and enjoy this show as much as everyone else.

Perfect Murder

By Ken Cotterill. Javeenbah Theatre Company Inc, Nerang (Qld). Director: Gillian Crow. 21 Jan – 05 Feb 2011

Moors.  Swirling mists.  Centuries old mansions.  All the setting for a murder-mystery?  Yes.  How about sunny modern Surfers Paradise?  What?!

Perfect Murder was written by Queensland based Ken Cotterill in 1998, but has never been performed in the location of its setting. I wanted to “… show that murder and mayhem can happen in the most unlikely places, like the Gold Coast … I wanted to set the play in a sunny, bright, warm environment,”  Mr Cotterill said. 

Diamond & Gallagher: Getting Down and Brassy.

Midsumma Festival 2011. fortyfive downstairs (Vic). January 21 - January 29, 2011.

In their latest show, Dolly Diamond and Luke Gallagher take the audience on a camp musical romp through seven decades of hits, starting in the 1930s.

After "Let's Do the Time Warp Again", Diamond and Gallagher encounter the Ghost of Music Past Years (GOMPY). GOMPY makes them relive the songs of the ages so that the pair learn to respect their musical forebears.

The Anorexic Chef.

Burning Deck Theatre Company. Midsumma Festival 2011. Written and directed by Sofia Chapman. La Mama. January 19 - 30, 2011.

The reason why Gordon Bleu (Will Tait) is an anorexic — and alcoholic — chef gives the play its rainbow element. Until we discover that reason, it's hard to see what makes this a Midsumma production.

Prodigal.

Bryant & Frank Productions. Midsumma Festival 2011. Written by Matthew Frank and Dean Bryant. Directed by Dean Bryant. fortyfive downstairs. January 19 - January 28, 2011.

Opening night was a rare moment of Australian musical theatre history. Eleven years after Prodigal had its world premiere at Midsumma, it has returned, directed by one of its writers, who was also one of the original actors. Since then it has been produced off-Broadway — the first Australian musical ever produced in New York City.

Luke (Ed Grey) has been groomed to run his father's fishing business. Instead, he flees to study in Sydney. Like any gay country boy introduced to that city, he finds the experience mind-altering.

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