Reviews

Until the Lions

Akram Khan Company. OzAsia Festival. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide. 22 & 23 Sept, 2017

Having seen The Mahabharata many years ago set in a quarry in Adelaide I was keen to see this new take on the Sanskrit masterpiece. I was not disappointed; Until the Lions is a visual feast for the eyes and an auditory feast for the ears.

Ladies in Lavender

By Shaun McKenna, based on the story by William J. Locke and the screenplay by Charles Dance. Castle Hill Players. The Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill. September 22 – October 14, 2017.

Director Meredith Jacobs and her design team have lovingly converted the stage of the Pavilion Theatre to a seaside cottage in Cornwall in 1937. Family photographs hang from brown picture rails. A mantle clock sits on the shelf above the fireplace. Two easy chairs with crocheted antimacassars are turned to face the sea.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Book by Douglas McGrath. Words and music by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Michael Cassel in association with Paul Blake & Sony/Atv Music Publishing & Mike Bosner. Sydney Lyric Theatre. Opening Night: September 23, 2017.

It’s often a little glib to say an Australian production is as good as the Broadway original, but in the case of this production it rings true. Having seen the musical in both New York and Sydney, local audiences can be well satisfied that nothing has been lost in the translation.

Aida

Written by Giuseppe Verdi. Opera Australia. Directed by Hugh Halliday. Griffith Opera on the Beach. Coolangatta Beach. Sept 21st-30th, 2017

To the un-initiated the whole idea would seem bizarre. A forbidden love affair between an Ethiopian slave and an Egyptian general, sung in Italian, on a beach on the Gold Coast, with the surf on one side and high-rise apartments on the other? Surely not? But Coolangatta has come a long way since the days when a big night out was a trip to Twin Towns Services Club to hear Gen Campbell sing Rhinestone Cowboy (I remember it well) and once the music starts you embrace the setting entirely and give yourself over to the extravaganza.

Recalling Mother

Checkpoint Theatre. OzAsia Festival. Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. 22-23 September, 2017.

Claire Wong and Noorlinah Mohamed are a pair of performers with their hearts in the right place, and Recalling Mother, at its best, communicates positive feelings and shares useful emotions with its audience, though it does not always completely succeed as a piece of compelling theatre.

Madame Nightshade’s Poison Garden

Created & performed by Anna Thomson, directed by Sarah Ward. La Mama Theatre, Carlton VIC. 21 September – 1 October 2017

At the end of her one-woman show, standing in the debris it’s produced, arrayed in pink and while plastic, Madame Nightshade (Anna Thomson) asks the audience not to tell anyone about the show, ‘because it’s a secret’.  And, indeed, telling too much about it would be to give too much away.

In Real Life

By Julian Larnach. Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Director: Luke Rogers. Eternity Playhouse, Sydney. 15 September – 15 October, 2017

In Real Life is a new Australian two-hander which speaks of the differences between real and digital life and how we might communicate in the coming decades.

Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets

By William S. Burroughs and Tom Waits. Victorian Opera. Conductor: Phoebe Briggs. Director: Matthew Lutton. Choreographer: Stephanie Lake. Malthouse Theatre. September 15 – October 8, 2017

When Victorian Opera was originally set up its charter was to fill a niche market, producing lesser known works, and since then they have fulfilled this. They certainly did with Black Rider.

Based on the same folk tale which Weber used for Der Freischűtz, it tells the story of a clerk who wants to marry a huntsman’s daughter, but the father will only allow her to marry a huntsman. So he purchases some magic bullets, the last one of which kills his fiancée. In Der Freischűtz the bullet only wounds the fiancée.

An Octoroon

Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Re-contextualised and Directed by Nakkiah Lui. Presented by Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival. Bille Brown Studio, 16 September – 8 October, 2017

There’s a reason everyone’s been raving about An Octoroon. First, you have a hot young Aussie playwright Nakkiah Luimaking her directorial debut. Secondly, it’s a piece by hot young US playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, adapted to the Australian vernacular by Ms Lui. Thirdly, it has a hot cast and crew giving the Bille Brown Studio a final send-off before it’s remodelled with a new stage, seating and foyer, into Bille Brown Theatre.

BIRDFOXMONSTER

Studio A and Erth. Carriageworks. September 21 – 30, 2017

It’s hard to be critical when you’re invited to a theatre dinner where the food and service is great, and every plate, design and immersive theatricality is a very personal expression of the three performers.  Harder still when the three artists have an intellectual disability they invite you to ignore.

Sydney’s impressive driver of accessible arts, Studio A, and the usually epic, physical theatre company, Erth were commissioned by Carriageworks to produce one of these ten works by artists with a disability.

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