Reviews

Stop.Rewind

Red Stitch Actors Theatre (Vic.). July 21 – August 21.

This is polished theatre at its best – and the best part is its Australian. Author Melissa Bubnic joined Red Stitch Actors Theatre as Writer in Residence in 2009 and has been developing Stop.Rewind over the past 18 months as part of the theatre’s Writers Program.

The Boy From Oz

By Nick Enright and Peter Allen. Spotlight Theatre Co. Gold Coast (Qld.). Director: Rhylee Nowell

The Boy From Oz is yet another hit for Spotlight Theatre Co.

Mary Poppins

Disney Theatrical Productions (Australia). Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne (VIC). Australian Premiere - July 29.

I didn’t think it possible, but Disney Theatrical Productions have created a show that is more spectacular than Wicked on exactly the same budget. And the differences are not subtle – every aspect of this production is considerably more impressive and advanced than it’s older sibling. Mary Poppins is $14 million very well spent.

A Voyage Round My Father by John Mortimer

Canberra Repertory Society. Director: Ross McGregor Set Design: Russell Brown. 30 July – 14 August

With his childhood dominated by his witheringly intelligent, sarcastic, grumpy bully of a father who happened to be blind, you might have expected Mortimer’s autobiographical play to be maudlin. Voyage Round My Father is certainly poignant, but mostly it's very funny. Canberra Rep’s production is a thrill to watch: clever, sympathetic and nuanced, and full of visual ironies.

The God Committee

By Mark St. Germain. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Andrew Doyle. Set: Colin Mitchell. Lighting: Mark Hammer. July 15 to August 29.

This 2006 off-Broadway ‘issue play’ fits the Ensemble’s thrust stage like a glove — a heart surgeon’s rubber glove, perhaps. As St. Patrick’s Metropolitan Hospital’s weekly transplant committee meets to decide which of three recipients should receive a suddenly available donor heart, so the audience presses in on three sides round the table, weighing up the arguments, participating in the urgent life-or-death decision making.

La fanciulla del West

By Giacomo Puccini et al – based on the play The Girl of the Golden West by David Belasco. Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Sydney. Until August 6.

What was part of the theme from Music of the Night, from The Phantom of Opera, doing in the middle of a Puccini opera? It was one of a number of unexpected surprises which I enjoyed in this production. Apparently the estate of Puccini noticed the similarity too, and filed a suit against Andrew Lloyd Webber, which was settled out of court.

Class of 77

Boroondara Theatre Company in association with Camberwell Youth Theatre. Kew Renaissance Theatre (VIC). July 23 - 31.

David Hines’ Class of 77 is a new Australian musical that introduces us to a class of high school students graduating in the late 1970s, and then transports us to their fifteen-year reunion in 1992. “The world of 1992 Australia is very different to what existed in 1977 and through the script and music we see just how different.”

I Love You, Bro by Adam J A Cass

La Boite. Roundhouse Theatre. (Qld.) July 17 - August 8

What a triumph of storytelling! One young actor creating individual voices for eight characters to convey a real-life intrigue. While the actor must bring it off, the success of the piece is a tribute to playwright Adam Cass. He took evidence from the 2003 attempted assassination case and re-created it from the point of view of fourteen-year-old Johnny, who explains for us not only what he did but how he reacted personally to each stage of his complex deception.

Salonika Bound by Tom Petsinis

Directed by David Myles. La Mama Courthouse, Melbourne until 8 August

Much of the power of great writing for the theatre comes from the juxtaposition of what is and what is not said – often associated with the vastly under-rated and consistently under-utilised skills of the Dramaturg. In Mr Petsinis’s case, there is an utterly compelling case for him to forge such a relationship because while his latest play Salonika Bound has flashes of brilliance, it is also constantly undermined by verbosity, repetition and simply too much tedious exposition.

Superheroes

Stone/Castro and INspace - Space Theatre (S.A.)

If you’ve ever picked up a cryptic crossword with the intention of nutting it out and enjoying the challenge only to put it aside after a few minutes because it’s just too cryptic – then you will have no trouble understanding why Stone and Castro describe their latest production, Superheroes as a “surreal exploration”.

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