Reviews

Summer Rain

Book and lyrics by Nick Enright, music by Terence Clarke. The Theatre On Chester (Epping, NSW). Director: Joy Sweeney. Musical Director: Mark Pigot. Choreographer: Janina Hamerlok. Apr 10 – May 2.

Every so often a community theatre company makes a choice in their repertoire that absolutely delights me. This is one.

It’s an all too rare joy to hear a musical theatre score with an authentic Aussie voice and vernacular, something that the late Nick Enright had an absolute flair for.

Theatre on Chester celebrates Summer Rain with Joy Sweeney’s splendidly crafted intimate production, balancing just the right mix of exuberance, sensitivity and sentimentality, helped by a set and lighting which utterly evoke dry outback heat.

Black Diggers

By Tom Wright. Queensland Theatre Company. Directed by Wesley Enoch. Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. 22-26 April, 2015

The first sound that rang out at the official ANZAC Day dawn service in Canberra on April 25 (today) was a didgeridoo. Those who heard it said it was reminiscent of gun shots. It’s a powerful symbol of how far we have come as a nation in recognising Indigenous Australians, and specifically, the Indigenous men who served in WWI at Gallipoli, and other battlefields in France, Belgium and Palestine.

Madame: The Story of Joseph Farrugia

A Torque Show production, presented by Vitalstatistix in association with State Theatre Company SA. Burnside Ballroom. April 21-May 2, 2015

Torque Show’s Australian premiere of Madame: The Story of Joseph Farrugia is fast-paced, frank, funny, often poignant and ultimately liberating theatre. It is also unlike anything I’ve seen before.

The culmination of a long-term project for Torque Show in collaboration with Emma Webb of Vitalstatistix Theatre Company, together with State Theatre Company SA, Madame is created/directed by Ross Ganf, Ingrid Weisfelt and Vincent Crowley.

Tigers Be Still

By Kim Rosenstock. Directed by Byron Bache/Boutique Theatre. Brunswick Metanoia Theatre (Vic). April 21st – May 2nd, 2015

We all live with tigers inside us – whether they be anger, greed, jealousy or, as in this play, depression – that will devour us if we don’t master them. Kim Rosenstock’s endearing, bittersweet play (with an obligatory “happy ending”) about a dysfunctional family of women all dealing with depression, is full of charm and laughs and “moments” (the entire play is made up of vignettes, some as short as 30 seconds) and works well on a superficial level.

Samson

By Julia-Rose Lewis. A La Boîte and Belvoir production. Directed by Kristine Landin-Smith. Roundhouse Theatre, Brisbane. 17 April - 2 May, 2015

Samson is a story about three adolescents growing up in country Queensland. With the death of a friend and a new addition to the town, many of their beliefs and hopes are side tracked as they explore more questions about the meaning behind some of life's multi-layered tapestries.

ANZAC Bikkies

By Paul Sherman. Director: Lynne Wright. Arts Theatre, Brisbane, 21-25 April 2015

Audiences are currently suffering from overkill in the portrayal of the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC’s landing at Gallipoli, on film, television and in theatre.

The Arts Theatre’s contribution is a premiere production of ANZAC Bikkies, edited by director Lynne Wright from a script by Paul Sherman. Told as a series of vignettes it looks at the Gallipoli campaign through the eyes of soldiers, nurses and officers, and covers the embarkation of innocent youths going off to fight, the folly of the landing and the ineptitude of the British military.

I Call My Brothers

By Jonas Hassen Khemiri. Translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles. Melbourne Theatre Company Education. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler, 16 April to 1 May 2015, then Regional Tour, 4 May to 18 May 2015.

I Call My Brothers is an intelligent, probing and poetic work that explores some of the rippling shock waves resulting from an inner city bombing.  It is superbly presented with all aspects woven together to create complex tapestry. Layer on layer of story un-folds through the unreliable perceptions, of the main protagonist Amor (Osamah Sami), gradually informing the audience. It feels like a rich rewarding journey of chasing, sometimes fleeting, meaning and is full of revelation.

Orphans

By Lyle Kessler. Red Line Productions. Old Fitz Theatre. April 14 – May 9, 2015.

Red Line Productions are on a red-hot streak and Orphans at the Old Fitz is no exception. At last the Old Fitz is housing consistently good work. AT LAST. One more time. AT [expletive] LAST.

Spring Awakening

Book and lyrics by Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik, original play by Franz Wedekind. Fresh Bred. Directed by Craig Griffen, Musical Direction by Joshua James Webb. Dolphin Theatre, University of Western Australia. April 10 – 18, 2015.

Spring Awakening, presented by Fresh Bred, was a spectacularly sung production, performed with excellent energy by a unified young cast.

Performances were strong throughout. Finn Alexander was very engaging in the central role of Melchior, giving a well-rounded portrayal. Cal Silberstein was a likeable and sympathetic Moritz and Madeline Crofts created a sensitive, beautifully vocalised Wendla.

Cautionary Tales for Children

Based on the verse of Hilaire Belloc. Arena Theatre for the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Speigeltent – Arts Centre. April 12 – 19, 2015.

Cautionary Tales for Children is a wonderfully dark and ironic, lively vibrant work.  This staged performance, based on the verse of Hilaire Belloc, is beautifully rendered by Arena Theatre and performed with entertaining aplomb by Virginia Gay, with Mark Jones on the Piano.  There is never a dull moment as one segment just flows into the next.

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