Reviews

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.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

By Ray Lawler. Pigeonhole Theatre. Directed by Karen Vickery. The Q – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. 20 – 30 September 2017

Nuanced, funny, vibrant and unmistakably Australian, Pigeonhole Theatre’s take onSummer of the Seventeenth Doll is refreshing in that it’s told firmly from the female perspective. Jordan Best’s Olive is magnificent: while other productions might have Olive as somewhat passive or in a state of suspended adolescence, Ms Best imbues her with inner strength. This Olive is a proto-feminist. She’s seen marriage and decided the daily drudgery wasn’t for her.

Vessel

Director, Composer & Design Irene Vela - in collaboration with choreographers, dancer & musicians of Outer Urban Projects. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse Rehearsal Room. 20-23 September 2017

A boat is a vessel, carrying life across dangerous seas, and a womb is a vessel, carrying life across a dangerous world.  These concepts combine in this strikingly original dance work performed by six young dancers, a performer, a singer and two musicians.  The central theme is that of the ‘mother’ – the life-giver, the nurturer (but not always), and with whom there are bonds – like it or not - that are never broken.  The umbilical cord (powerfully represented in the closing sequence of this work) may be cut, but the link remains. 

Ghosts

By Henrik Ibsen. Belvoir, Upstairs Theatre. September 16 – October 22, 2017

Eamon Flack describes his adaptation as “ a fairly direct rendering of Ibsen’s play into a language that makes sense to us today but still retains the feeling of the past”.

Mana Wahine

The Okareka Dance Company. Co-Authors Taiaroa Royal, Taane Mete and Malia Johnston. Music by Victoria Kelly. Arts Centre Gold Coast. Sept 20th to 22nd, 2017, prior to Canada and Hawaii, then Darwin Entertainment Centre Nov 2nd.

Much like our own Bangarra Dance Company, The Okareka Dance Company transcends the restrictive label of “Dance” to bring us something ethereal that is made up of history, spirituality, philosophy and physicality. Yes, it is dance, and dance of the highest order, but it is also a lesson in integrity, tradition, belief. Combine all those things and you have one of the most powerful pieces of dance theatre in the history of contemporary dance.

Seussical Jr.

Music by Stephen Flaherty. Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Book by Ahrens and Flaherty. Co-conceived by Ahrens, Flaherty, and Eric Idle. Based on the works of Dr Seuss. Pelican Productions. Norwood Concert Hall. November 15-17, 2017

This reviewer is happy to confess that Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You? will always be a book he can look back on with fondness and enthusiasm – but having yet to graduate into parenthood means a general lack of children’s picture books around the home in recent years. Prior knowledge of the character Horton, and his adventures, is advised preparation before attending any production of Seussical.

Assassins

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by John Weidman. Directed by Dean Bryant. Choreography by Andrew Hallsworth. Musical Director Andrew Worboys. Set and Costume Design Alicia Clements. Hayes Theatre. September 15 - October 22, 2017.

Actors love playing villains – and Assassins delivers a whole fruitcake tin of them. The Hayes Theatre has baked the loonies together, inside the most stunning set, combined with the tastiest of ensembles, to create a positively scrumptious result. 

The biggest surprise is to read the program afterwards, when you discover that Sondheim and Weidman didn’t have to make much up about the motley crew of ‘successful’ and ‘unsuccessful’ assassins of the Presidents of the United States over the years.  

Laser Beak Man

By David Morton, Nicholas Paine and Tim Sharp with music by Sam Cromack (Ball Park Music). A La Boite Theatre Company, Dead Puppet Society and Brisbane Festival production in association with PowerArts. Roundhouse Theatre, Kelvin Grove. September 9-30, 2017

Puppets, puns and plenty of laughs suitable for a school holiday audience, Laser Beak Man is peppered with innuendo that stretches from the White House in America all the way to Parliament House in Canberra.

The storyline for Tim Sharp’s extraordinary character is quite simple: a group of friends discover an energy source that could make power free for everyone in Power City but greed corrupts the discovery and it is up to Laser Beak Man and his trusted friends to save the city.

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