Reviews

Le Noir: The Dark Side of Cirque

Canberra Theatre. May 6–10, 2015

Former violinist Simlon Painter and entertainment organiser Tim Lawson, in creating the vision for this show, whose world tour commences in Australia, have created something that rivals Cirque du Soleil itself for sheer magnificent spectacle.  Under the obviously exacting direction and choreography of Neil Dorward, every act without exception enthralled the audience with daring; tight execution; and superb showmanship.

The Wizard of Oz

Adapted by the Director Adena Jacobs, cast and creatives from the novel by L Frank Baum. Belvoir. May 2 – 31, 2015

“Excruciating!”

“I am 84, thank goodness I will never have to see a play like that again before I die!”

“The dog was good!”

These were three comments heard from paying customers walking out of the theatre after the one act self-described ‘radical feminist take’ on the beloved Wizard of Oz.

The company warned patrons to leave children at home, but the thought crossed my mind that if there have been two acts – many in the audience would have gone home early.

Dogfight

Music and lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul. Book by Peter Duchan. Neil Gooding Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co. May 1 – 31, 2015.

Nations have sent young men off to war, underprepared, for generations, returning them to society unsupported, but who’d have thought someone could write such a poignant, gritty, affecting rock musical about it; a musical that juxtaposes the rock and folk idioms, redolent of the mid 1960s, with a distinct musical theatre voice.

A relatively sparse, satisfying script, seamlessly integrates with a dramatically rich, dense score, which always advances the narrative or the emotional and psychological core of the piece.

La Soirée

Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC). Backstage at the Playhouse, Brisbane. May 9-24, 2015.

With alternative late night cocktail cabaret influences of burlesque and a touch of camp a lá Spiegeltent, La Soirée wowed the audience again with its return season at the Playhouse last night. QPAC opened up the stage/backstage only for this intimate collage of a variety of international contemporary circus acts where most of the show is performed on a small circular stage with the audience in-round or seated in elevated rows. With the stage and atmosphere already set on arrival, the show had already begun .......

Frame of Mind & Quintett

Rafael Bonachela & William Forsythe. Sydney Dance Company. Southbank Theatre (Vic). 6-16th May, 2015

What a glorious treat to see the Sydney Dance Company in the appropriately sized Sumner Theatre. Whilst classical ballet remains rigidly connected to its roots, contemporary dance continues to evolve in ways we wouldn’t have imagined when the SDC captured our imaginations some 40 years ago.

The School for Scandal

By Richard Brinsley Sheridan. New Theatre, Newtown, NSW. April 28 – May 30, 2015

Director David Burrowes has brought Sheridan’s play slap bang into the 21st century in everything apart from the beautiful language and the satirical characters. The set is sparse, minimalist; the costumes vivid, suggestive; the lighting bright; the sound loud, pumping and the direction stylised, contemporary. All very different from what one expects of a play written by a 26 year old in 1777!

Between Heaven and Her

By Dodo Gombár, translated from Slovak by Danica Haláková. Auto Da Fe Theatre Company Production. La Mama, Carlton (VIC). 6 – 17 May 2015.

A ‘Technician’ (Majid Shokor), in overalls and a beanie, checks the lighting as the audience takes their seats and La Mama front-of-house conducts the customary raffle door prize.  The house lights dim.  The Technician performs a magic trick with the lighting.  He finds a play text on a chair… and begins to read… and commits himself to the play and thus becomes our ironic Narrator for all that follows. 

La Traviata

Music: Giuseppi Verdi. Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play La dame aux Camelias, adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils. Opera Q. Director: Kate Cherry. Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conductor Johannes Fritzsch. Choreography: Rosetta Cook. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 7 May 2015

Opera Q returns to QPACs Lyric Theatre stage with a triumphant La Traviata, doing justice to what is the jewel in Verdi’s operatic oeuvre. With a consumptive heroine, a wealthy lover, and a father hell-bent on avenging his family’s honour, the plot is ripe for melodramatic excess and this production does not hold back.

Staged in modern-dress, with a striking mirrored cube centrepiece and a multitude of chandeliers broken or otherwise, Kate Cherry’s production is not only a visual delight but a truly satisfying aural experience.

The Host

Ballet by Natalie Weir. Music by Shostokovich, Prokofiev, Bartock, Bach and others.. Played by Southern Cross Solists. Musical Director: Tania Frazer. Expressions Dance Company. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 1-9 May 2015.

Natalie Weir’s new ballet The Host takes us into a world of manipulation and control amongst guests around an elegant dinner party. It’s surrealist and in some ways a distant cousin to Luis Munuel’s movie The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, with a touch of the austere world of Chekhov thrown into the mix as well. But regardless, it’s a work that is beautifully realised by this young company of outstanding dancers.

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Music & Lyrics: Richard & Robert Sherman. Book: Jeremy Sams & Ray Roderick. Regals Musical Society. Rockdale Town Hall. May 1 – 16, 2015.

At its heart Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a good old fashioned operetta with some sweet tunes and a prop that sends tremors through all but the most daring ofcommunity theatre groups.

Some of the more ambitious companies have declined to take the musical for a spin, fearing it too hard to do it justice in the slipstream of the professional season, that boasted the world’s most expensive stage prop.

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