Reviews

The Darling Buds of May

By Herbert Ernest Bates. The Therry Dramatic Society (SA) 6 to 15 November, 2014

Although author Herbert Ernest Bates wrote The Darling Buds of May in 1958, it has lost none of its charm. The Therry Dramatic Society, with Hayley Horton at the helm, have produced a delightful tale that follows the comings and goings of the loveable Larkin family, set against a backdrop of rural Kent in the 1950s. The show’s title refers to the opening buds that point to the summer season ahead and to the freshness and exuberance of youth as it turns toward adult maturity. 

Sweet Road

By Debra Oswald, Wyong Drama Group. Directed by Joshua Maxwell. The Grove, Wyong. Nov 6-15, 2014.

In August this year, Wyong Drama Group was evicted from their beloved Memorial Hall (which had been home for almost 50 of it's 62 years) as it was demolished to make way for a purpose-built theatre facility – slated for completion in December 2015. In switching to the much smaller Grove Community Centre, they could have been forgiven for choosing a far 'safer' production to woo audiences to the alternate venue – but such is WDG's faith in it's youth membership, they allowed 21 year old Joshua Maxwell to direct this reasonably low-key Australian play.

Songs so Far

Music & Lyrics: Alanya Bridge. Director: Penny Farrow. Musical Director: Luke Volker. Powerhouse, Brisbane, 5-6 November 2014

It’s always exciting hearing a new musical theatre composing talent for the first time. Songs so Far showcases the work of young Brisbane songwriter Alanya Bridge who already has some awards up her sleeve having won the Wirripang Publishing award for New Composition, and Specialist Award for Best Vocal Composition in 2013.

Songs so Far features songs from the musicals Connect Four and What We Began in the first act, and a staged reading of excerpts from her newest work-in-progress Just a Phase in the second.

Passion

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by James Lapine. Life Like Company. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. November 5-8 2014

The music is exquisite: soaring, lyrical, uplifting and quite operatic. It is, after all, Stephen Sondheim. But the story is very European (it’s actually Italian) – which is a euphemism, in this case, for excessive and, at the same time, oblique. Unless you have experienced passion which transcends reason; which ignores caution; which embraces sacrifice and even death, it’s a hard ask for an audience to engage with the story.

Potted Potter

By Daniel Clarkson & Jefferson Turner. Lunchbox Theatrical Productions & Potted Productions. Director: Richard Hurst. Powerhouse, Brisbane, 4-16 November 2014

“Totally awesome” a young muggle moppet claimed as she left the theatre last night and I’m sure the rest of the audience, who had been well-schooled in Hogwarts folklore, would have agreed. This 70-minute G-rated parody of all seven Harry Potter books has been entertaining audiences worldwide since it first appeared as a 5-minute piece of London street theatre in 2005. It’s the show’s third visit to Australia and this time around the two stand-up roles are in the ingratiating hands of two Brits, Benjamin Stratton and James Percy.

Daylight Saving

By Nick Enright. Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Eternity Playhouse, Sydney. Director: Adam Cook. 31 October – 30 November 2014

Inner Sydney has recently seen professional revivals of three notable pre-1990 Australian plays. John Romeril’s brilliantly chilling The Floating World (1974) preceded the paint-fresh return of David Williamson’s Emerald City (1987), both at the Stables Theatre. Now at the nearby and luxurious Eternity Playhouse comes Nick Enright’s 1989 farce Daylight Saving. Though consistently entertaining, this one shows its age.

Il Trovatore

By Giuseppe Verdi. West Australian Opera. Directed by Elke Neidhardt. His Majesty's Theatre, Perth. Oct 30 - Nov 8, 2014

The West Australian Opera's Il Trovatore is a co-production with the State Opera of South Australia and Opera Queensland. Directed by the late Elke Neidhardt, this production is set during the Spanish Civil war of the 1930s rather than Verdi's original setting of the fifteenth century Spanish Civil War. The reimagining brings the story closer to our own experience, and perhaps even grittier than the very sad, demise heavy original.

Musically beautiful, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Joseph Colaneri, plays superbly.

Once Upon A Midnight

An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe. New Farm Nash Theatre. 31October – 23 November 2013

If you’ve heard about Poe’s famous tales of romance, mystery and the macabre, this is a handy sample bag to introduce you to his works.

The company chose four stories in various styles, all but one adapted to the stage by a Nash playwright, and director Sandra Harman cast ten fine actors to bring these stories to life on the stage. An interesting challenge?  Yes, and they brought it off.

The Pavilion

By Craig Wright. Boutique Theatre Company at the Abbotsford Convent (VIC) 30 October to 14 November 2014

‘You Can’t Go Home Again’ said Thomas Wolfe.  True, but the wistful wish - or the overwhelming desire - that this not be true has fuelled many a story.  The Pavilion is another.  If only we could go back and take the other path.  Go back and make amends.  Have a second chance.  ‘If only…’ is an irrational but irresistible hook.

The Last Five Years

Written and Composed by Jason Robert Brown. Director: Sarah Prentice, Musical Director: Steven Kreamer. Hills Musical Theatre Company (as The Hills studio). Castle Hill RSL. October 31 – November 2, 2014.

This is a charmer of a production.

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