Reviews

Biography: A Game

By Max Frisch. Bakehouse Theatre (S.A.). Aug 4-20th, 2016.

Swiss dramatist Max Frisch first published Biography: A Game in 1967 and by 1984 an English version was born. The play explores relationships and the decisions that define our lives.

For the first twenty minutes the script offers up no answers, but plenty of questions. What if we were given the chance to go back and rewrite passages of our lives? Many scenarios are tested throughout this play with surprising consequences.

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Presented by Canberra REP. Directed by Jordan Best. Theatre 3. 4 to 20 August 2016

Deft direction by Jordan Best, a brilliant sound design and excellent characterisation by the leads make Canberra REP’s Macbeth great to watch. Jenna Roberts’s Lady Macbeth is every bit as lustful, bloodthirsty and ruthless as you’d expect. Ms Roberts gives her character’s psychopathy a hypnotic quality. With distinctly different public and private personas, there’s nothing vulnerable about Lady Macbeth but at times she shows brief flashes of uncertainty and even surprise and a childlike delight at her own gall.

The Lord of the Flies

By William Golding, adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams. Director Sarah Christiner. Harbour Theatre, Camelot, Mosman Park, WA. 29 Jul - 7 Aug, 2016

It is a brave director that takes on a cast of tween and teen boys for their first full-length production, but The Lord of the Flies was a well-presented production with a healthy dose of testosterone and a king-hit of energy.

William Golding’s classic novel is brought to life on a bare-bones set on the tiny Camelot stage, but the cast of 11 to 19 year olds stampede throughout the auditorium, owning the space.

Once Upon a Mattress

Music: Mary Rodgers. Lyrics: Marshall Barer. Book: Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, Marshall Barer. Mousetrap Theatre, Redcliffe, Queensland. Director: Kurt A. Lurps. Musical Director: Theresa Kendall. 29 Jul – 13 Aug 2016.

Mousetrap Theatre’s audience had a right royal time at Once Upon a Mattress. They laughed at Carmen Heath’s waspish Queen Aggravain, giggled at David Scheiwe’s mute and lascivious King Sextimus, and cheered for Fay Richards as the moat-swimming Princess Winifred, better known at Fred. They didn’t seem to mind that most of the cast couldn’t sing, that the piano accompaniment stumbled along, or that the Princess lost her place in “Happily Ever After” and forgot the lyrics.

A Nest of Skunks

By James Balian and Roger Vickery. Collaborations Theatre. The Depot Theatre, Marrickville, NSW Aug 3 – 13, 2016.

This current show at the Depot Theatre in Sydney’s inner west echoes the sort of multicultural stories the respected company Sidetrack used to explore in the same theatre decades ago.  But this tale about hiding asylum seekers paints a far darker, dystopian picture of Australia today.

A short thriller set in a suburban safe house, this is a secretive world of surveillance and high penalties for anyone found housing escaped refugees. And so they work and whisper in volunteer cells deliberately having no knowledge of their comrades in other cells. 

The Crucible

Written by Arthur Miller. University Of Adelaide Theatre Guild. Directed by Geoff Britain. The Little Theatre, University Of Adelaide. August 6-20, 2016

The University Of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s latest production brings a visceral intensity to a very familiar and oft-revived play, that has become such a frequent staple of high school English classes it’s likely to have lost some of its edge to many seasoned theatregoers.

La Musicale d’Elegance

Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport, Qld. Musical Director: Mary Walters. Director: Roger McKenzie. Hostess/Compere: Laney McLean. August 5 – 7, 2016

Composers of many contemporary musicals could do well to note the structure of Gold Coast Little Theatre’s home-grown La Musicale d’Elegance. It is a quick-fit, short-season of song, music, string solos and ballroom dance.

Avenue Q

Music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Mars. Prince Moo Productions. Directed by Peter Snee. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne. August 3 – 14, 2016

When Avenue Q won Broadway’s Tony Awards triple crown in 2003, some people were surprised. This deceptively simple musical (more a series of vignettes) which features “full frontal puppet nudity and other vulgarities” wasn’t the usual stuff that hit musicals were made of, but Robert Lopez and Jeff Mars channelled their inner kids to give us an Adults Only Sesame Street, and turned expectations upside down. Thirteen years later this new production proves that a good show is a good show, regardless of style or fashion.

Edward II

By Anthony Weigh. Directed by Matthew Lutton. Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank. 29 July – 21 August, 2016.

Edward II is a contemporary adaptation of the original Christopher Marlowe play but the text easily stands on its own as a new and innovative piece. The main characters are retained and all the sexual and political intrigue is effectively transferred into this production. The text dedicates a great deal of attention to the tender relationship between Piers (Paul Ashcroft) and Ned (Johnny Carr) and depicts their attraction with the complexity and naturalness of any ordinary couple.

The Matchmaker

By Thornton Wilder. Independent Theatre. The Goodwood Institute. August 5-13, 2016.

Following a complicated and at times painful genesis, Thornton Wilder’s comedy The Matchmaker has endured since the mid 1950’s and has also resulted in its well-known stage and screen offspring, the musical Hello Dolly!

The Matchmaker is an unlikely blend of comedy of manners and farce, which Adelaide’s Independent Theatre makes the most of with a very good current production directed by the company’s Artistic Director Rob Croser.

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.