Reviews

Diaspora

By Robin Fox and collaborators. Chamber Made, in association with Melbourne International Arts Festival and The SUBSTATION. The SUBSTATION, 1 Market Street, Newport. October 3 – 6, 2019

In over thirty years, Melbourne based Chamber Made has gained an impeccable reputation for their modern experimental operatic works. In recent times, they have included an eclectic group of artists who work in visuals, performance, sound and music.

Inspired by the first chapter of Greg Egan’s science fiction novel of the same name, Diaspora, Chamber Made’s new show for the Melbourne International Arts Festival, at the Substation situated in Newport, features Robin Fox, Erkki Veltheim, Madeleine Flynn and Georgina Darvides

The Window Outside

By Belinda Lopez. Wise Owl Theatre. Victorian Seniors Festival. Directed by Liz Connors. Northcote Town Hall. 1 – 6 October 2019, and touring

The Window Outside is an accessible, engrossing and deeply thought-provoking work.  Based in realism with a magic realist twist, it is a rich work about family, aging, illness, dementia and the end of life.   

As part of this years Seniors’ Week,  it is a must - particularly if the subject of aging parents or family members or one’s own aging is looming and/or pertinent.

Laser Beak Man

Written by David Morton, Nicholas Paine and Tim Sharp. Music by Sam Cromack of Ball Park Music. A Dead Puppet Society, La Boite Theatre Company and Brisbane Festival production in association with PowerArts. Presented by QPAC. Playhouse Theatre, 2 – 5 October, 2019

You’d be hard pressed to find a show more joyful, creative and innovative than Laser Beak Man. Entertaining for all ages, the script is packed with jokes for the kids mixed with more grown-up humour worded innocently enough to fly right over the little ones’ heads. Visual puns come thick and fast in a show that’s an absolute feast for the eyeballs. Your ears aren’t left out either, with a fantastic, pumping soundtrack provided by Ball Park Music. This is not your average kids’ puppet show.

Anthem

By Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas & Irine Vela. Directed by Susie Dee. Melbourne International Arts Festival. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 1-6 October, 2019.

Anthem is a finely tuned and beautifully calibrated theatre work that captures the anxieties that plague Australian society, partly driven by a disconcerting global context and its own struggles with multiculturalism. In many ways the play also shows how the population is still grappling with the remnants of the culture and history wars. The residual effects of the gradual rise of right wing and populist movements since the 1990s, which later produced inglorious events such as the Cronulla riots, are palpable in this play.

Hair

Book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado. Music by Galt MacDermot. David M Hawkins and Sydney Opera House. Directed by Cameron Menzies. Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House. October 3 – 6, 2019

You can imagine the shock of seeing Hair staged for the first time 50 years ago. All the rules of polite musical theatre themed, G-rated Rodgers and Hammerstein story lines were thrown out the window. In their place was a free-for-all rock-n-roll sex and drug fueled Vietnam War story.

Fleabag

Written & performed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. National Theatre Live. A Dry White, SoHo Theatre & Annapurna Theatre presentation. Cinema Nova and other participating cinemas from 11 October 2019

This is the Ur-Fleabag, where it all began in 2013, the one woman 80-minute stage show performed at the Edinburgh Fringe by the woman who wrote it.  That first production led to a string of awards and then to her much amplified television adaptation Fleabag Series I & II.  Plus her adaptation of the Villanelle novels by Luke Jennings that became Killing Eve Series I, plus a punch-up draft on the latest Bond movie and now a contract with Amazon for more.  This ex-RADA student, who didn’t like the roles she was being offered and so

Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities

Written and Directed by Michel Laprise. Cirque du Soleil. Big Top in The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, Sydney. 3 October – 24 November 2019

This is the touring show first seen in Montreal, French Canada in 2014. Kurios had a major New York outing with sparkling reviews two years later, and now arrives in Sydney on the first stop of an Australian tour that includes Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. It’s in a huge Big Top setting that took 10 days to construct, with a line-up of top international acts – a must-see for all lovers of the Circus, which Cirque du Soliel has now fundamentally eclipsed, killed off.

Songs and Times of Sam Cooke - A Change is Gonna Come

Gary Pinto and The Champions of Soul. The Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. September 28 – Oct 2, 2019

They say music communicates deeper than words. You’ll remember a tune before a speech or a name. The name Sam Cooke may not be one you remember but his songs are legendary. He was a prolific writer during his short life (died in his 30s) and made an impact so big that even now, some 50 years later, his music is still widely selling. It’s the sound of a very specific era in American music. From the first slow dance hit “You send me” in 1957, Cooke had 28 singles in the American Top 40 and Billboard Pop Singles.

The Boy from Oz

Music and Lyrics by Peter Allen. Book by Nick Enright. Original Production by Ben Gannon and Robert Fox. Presented by Savoyards. Directed by Miranda Selwood. IPAC Theatre, 28 September – 12 October, 2019

This beloved musical has been delighting audiences since the late nineties with the life-story of Peter Allen. The show cleverly intertwines Allen’s most biographical songs into the tale of how a young man from rural New South Wales rose to international fame. It’s a fascinating journey through his determination, loves, losses and triumphs, whether you’re a fan of Allen or you’ve never heard a note of his catchy songs before.

Peter Pan

By J. M. Barrie. Stray Cats Theatre. Directed by Karen Francis. The Fishtrap Theatre, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, WA. Sep 25-29, 2019

Stray Cats Theatre’s Peter Pan gave an adventurous kick off to the school holidays, with its short run filling the smaller theatre at Manpac.

A particularly dark incarnation of this classic story, there were a few small audience members for whom it was a bit too much, with the movement sequences being quite frightening. Having said that, I sought the expert opinion of four year old ‘Jasper’ who declared the whole production “very good”, with a sage nod.

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