Reviews

The Button Event

Devised by Todd MacDonald with Bagryana Popov. Queensland Theatre Company in association with Brisbane Festival. 18-27 September 2014

Todd MacDonald already on stage, pitching tennis balls at a big white bin. Doors close, lights down, spot Todd as he reads a letter to Mary MacKillop (a hard-copy prayer?) for interceding on his family’s behalf and for the success of his daughter’s treatment.

Whose Chorus Line is it Anyway?

Impromptunes. Melbourne Fringe 2014. Founder: Emmet Nichols. Accompanist: Rainer Pollard. North Melbourne Town Hall Meeting Room. September 19 – October 4, 2014

Having caught their act at the Comedy Festival I couldn’t wait to see the new incarnation of Impromptunes for the Fringe Festival.

I was a little disappointed.

Last time we had a complete musical which flowed from one scene to the next and one hilarious song to another. This time we had a “director” on stage suggesting we skip to this scene or that so there was no cohesion and I came away unsure of the storyline.

Food

By Steve Rogers. Gasworks Arts Park with Force Majeure and Belvoir. Gasworks Theatre, Albert Park, VIC. 19-21 September 2014

It all happens in a kitchen, but Food is not a culinary experience.  It’s about another kind of sustenance.

Bookworms

By Bernard Farrell. Centenary Theatre Group (Qld). 6 – 27 September 2014.

This sterling piece of Irish theatre, imagined by Bernard Farrell, is an inspired choice for this company: an Australian premiere, its style appeals to the loyal patrons, CTG attracts splendid acting and directing personnel, so we expect top entertainment. That’s just what they gave us!

Aida

Music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang. UMMTA (Vic). Director: Grace Agnew. Musical Director: Anthony Cardamone. Choreographer: Ammalee Meisels. Union Theatre, University of Melbourne. September 19 - 27, 2014

I am very familiar with the opera Aida and aware that Elton John had written a musical on the same subject, so was interested to finally catch a production. And what a production it was!

Though we have the same characters and same basic story, it is quite a different take, starting before the opera does, so we see Aida being captured, and there are a number of sub-plots which do not appear in the opera. It worked very well, and there was a lovely twist at the end which eased the tragic ending.

The Dream

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Peter Evans. Bell Shakespeare. Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. Sept 18th – Oct 4th, 2014.

If every primary school-aged child were to see this production, we would have a generation of Shakespeare fans for all time, so wondrously witty and innovative is it. Bottom says, in Shakespeare’s words, “I have had a most rare vision.” Well so has Director Peter Evans; and those of us who only came to love The Bard in adulthood can only mourn the fact that Bell Shakespeare wasn’t around to inspire us in childhood.

Hook Up

Music, Lyrics and book by Nick Hedger and Ben Nicholson. With Michelle Brasier. Directed by Ben Nicholson. Melbourne Fringe Festival. The Lithuanian Club Ballroom. 19-21 and 23-26 September, 2014.

There are some unfathomables in the Universe….

How do clouds know how to make themselves into balloon animals?

How many stars are there altogether in the firmament (and can I have one?)?

How can two 23 year olds – Nick Hedger and Ben Nicholson – be so insanely talented in Musical Theatre?

Four Dogs and A Bone

By John Patrick Shanley. Brief Candle Productions. Directed by Kate Gaul. Sydney Fringe. Old Fitzroy Theatre (NSW). September 16 – 27, 2014.

John Patrick Shanley makes no mistakes in this witty one act satire of the movie business. Though it is biting and cruelly critical it is also very funny – and that’s probably why it ran for 230 performances when it premiered in New York in 1993.

The ‘four dogs’, actors Brenda and Collette, producer Bradley and first-time screenplay writer, Victor scheme and fight over the ‘bone’ that is the movie. Brenda and Collette both want to star. Bradley wants to cut expenses. All three want to convince Victor to cut scenes and re-write the script.

The Last Continent

By Terry Pratchett. Directed by Pamela Munt. The Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide. September 19-October 4, 2014

Since its formation in 1999, Adelaide’s Unseen Theatre Company has staged 25 plays based on the work of beloved fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett. Having attained something of a cult following in the process, Unseen asked their regular patrons to vote on which of their back catalogue was worthy of an encore performance.

Motherf**ker

Created by Jane Miller & Beng Oh; text by Jane Miller adapted from Sophocles, Seneca and two Ted Hughes poems. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton (VIC). 17 – 28 September 2014

It asks a lot of an audience to suspend their disbelief so far as to imagine the imperial court of ancient Thebes played on a small and rickety, creaking platform, mounted on scaffolding and backed by black plastic drapes that don’t quite close.  I couldn’t suspend mine.  The creaky platform is unfortunately just one of the many artistic misjudgments in this version of the Oedipus story. 

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