Reviews

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.

Leap of Faith

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Glen Slater. Book by Janus Warren & Cercone Leight. Based on the Motion Picture produced by Paramount Pictures and written by Janus Cercone. Director: Nick Yates. Musical Director: David Russell. Choreogrpaher: Craig Nhobbs. Hills Musical Theatre Company. Castle Hill RSL. Australian Premiere Season. October 30 – November 2, 2014.

Hallelujah! Praise the Hills! Hand over your money for a ticket, for ye shall be rewarded! What a great production.

Blue/Orange

By Joe Penhall. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). October 29 – November 29, 2014.

Considering that this play takes a sardonic look at race, mental illness, ambition and the inadequacies of medical systems, you might expect it to be fairly heavy, which in parts it is – but it is laced with wit and humour that skillfully diffuses the otherwise seriousness of the themes.

Gasp!

By Ben Elton. Directed by Wesley Enoch. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Northbridge WA. Oct 25 - Nov 9, 2014

Black Swan State Theatre Company and Queensland State Theatre Company's co-production ofGasp! is a fascinating production with an intriguing story-line. Gorgeously presented, it is a celebration of the brilliant mind of Ben Elton.

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown

Book, music and lyrics by Clark Gesner. Mainstage Theatre Society. Peacock Theatre, Hobart. Director: Don Gay . 23 Oct. – 2 Nov. 2014

A musical play based on the popular and long-running comic strip “Peanuts” is a good vehicle for adults to enjoy being children again. Mainstage Theatre Company enjoyed presenting the delightful musical You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown at the Peacock Theatre in Hobart. The famous rock wall of the Peacock Theatre was obscured by scrim, behind which sat four band members playing percussion, bass, piano and flute, under the musical direction of Amanda Harper, who played flute and set the pace for two hours of energetic action.

Potted Potter

Writers and Creators - Daniel Clarkson and Jeferson Turner. Directed by Richard Hurst. Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. Oct 28th – Nov 2nd, 2014

You may well be asking, as a theatre-goer, what is Potted Potter? Well, it’s a load of corny old gags, slapstick comedy, audience participation, pantomime, schoolboy Fringe humour and Tommy Cooper’s wig changing shtick melded together loosely (very) with a send up of all JK Rowling’s seven Harry Potter books…nothing we haven’t seen before. Why then, you might ask, is it bringing down the house…or at least the Playhouse, in our esteemed Arts Centre?

Totem

Conceived and directed by Robert Lepage. Cirque du Soleil. Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park, Sydney. 28 September 2014 – 4 January 2015

There are no elephants, tigers or performing dogs in Canada’s Cirque du Soleil, and no red-nosed, slapstick clowns, either. That kind of circus has gone forever. Totem is the latest, top-end example of modern circusing: highly theatrical gymnastics.

The ‘specialty acts’ that once allowed time for the clowns to clear the lions before bringing on the dancing horses are now the undisputed stars of the show.

Hay Fever

By Noël Coward. Kay & McLean Productions and Theatre Royal Bath Productions. Director: Lindsay Posner. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane, 23 October – 8 November 2014; Regal Theatre, Perth, 13-29 November; Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, 3-7 December 2014

Noël Coward never dates as this splendid production of Hay Fever proves. His 90-year-old play is as fresh, frothy, and as frivolous as when he first wrote it, and this ensemble of actors, headed by the insouciant and delightful Felicity Kendal, deliver each witty riposte with finesse.

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