Reviews

Paris: A Rock Odyssey

By Jon English and David Mackay. Music Theatre Melbourne (In Association with Stella Entertainment). Melbourne Recital Centre. 13th to 15th July, 2017

A buzzing full house at the MRC was the perfect audience for the first professional performance of Jon English's passion project: a retelling of the Trojan Wars, with the spotlight thrown on the doomed love of Paris of Troy and the beautiful Helen.

A concert performance was the right choice to showcase this work.  The costumes were an eclectic blend of Greek legend meets rock legend, a fitting look for a tribute to the multi-talented, history-obsessed Jon English.  

Australian Graffiti

By Disapol Savetsila. Sydney Theatre Company. Wharf 2 Theatre. July 7 – August 12, 2017.

First time playwright Disapol Savetsila brings his own immigrant experience to this tale of newly arrived Thais searching for a place an Aussie country town.  Cooking is their offering, their passport to new home and community, but sadly no one comes to the new restaurant.

Almost entombed in David Fleischer’s airless, grey concrete backroom, is a young married couple (Monica Sayers and Kenneth Moraleda) struggling with sickness and displacement, young Ben and his mother (an exasperated Gabrielle Chan as the bossy maître de with no customers). 

The Plant

By Kit Brookman. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Elsie Edgerton-Till. 8 July – 5 August 2017

Three times a year the Ensemble runs a play it doesn’t reckon will get big audiences in tandem with a crowd-pleaser. Sometimes there are three performances in a day — two of one, one of the other. The setting of the ‘less important play’ inevitably suffers. 

Australia Day

By Jonathan Biggins. Mordialloc Theatre Company. June 30 – July 15, 2017

Mordialloc Theatre Company always brings the goods to the Mornington Peninsula theatrical scene and Australia Day has certainly combined with all their tremendous work to date.

The play, written by Jonathan Biggins (an all-rounder performer, writer, and director in his own right), attempts to show what its like to sneak a peek into the conflict that surrounds the significance and substance of our National public holiday.

Wogs in Love

Director: Jane Oliffe. Writer: Greg Andreas. 4 Stage Productions. Judith Wright Centre. 6-14 July 2017.

There are hundreds of wonderful scripts in this world so it seems an odd choice for 4 Stage Productions to follow successful seasons of The Breakfast Club and The Vagina Monologues with Wogs in Love. It was the first play written by Greg Andreas in the early 80s. He confesses in the program’s ‘Writers Note’ that this play is ’36 years old and somewhat dated’. Many of the cast and crew seem to have lost the uphill battle to give meaning to a script that is so entrenched in the time in which it was written that its appeal is waning.

By a Thread

One Fell Swoop Circus. Part of the 2017 Moving Parts Season at Gasworks Arts Park, Albert Park, Vic. 12th - 16th July 2017

By a Thread is the name of the piece and also describes most of the action - the performers spend much of the night hanging by a thread, albeit a chunky one. They climb, swing balance, slide, catch, pull, twist and caress a single piece of rope to the delight (and gasps) of the audience.

Emma

Adapted from the Jane Austen novel by Pamela Whalan. Genesian Theatre, Sydney. July 8 – August 9, 2017.

Emma Woodhouse was handsome, clever and rich, according to the famous first line of Jane Austen's much loved novel. This production has a handsome looking cast, a clever script and is rich in characterisation.

The adaptation opens with other characters talking about Emma, giving it a sense of suspense as we waited for her arrival. Although Pamela Whalan manages to confine the action to just two sets it moves in general at a good pace. 

Saturday Night Fever

Music and lyrics by The Bee Gees and others. Book by Robert Stigwood, with Bill Oakes. Matt Byrne Media. Arts Theatre Adelaide, July 6-11, 2017 and Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth, July 21-29, 2017

Matt Byrne is never afraid to bring big musicals to the Adelaide Community Theatre scene. Aware of the success of Matt Byrne Media’s past musicals, such as Mary Poppins and Wicked, I expected Saturday Night Fever to be a feast of energy, fantastic singing and dancing, a strong storyline, memorable performances and the disco beat of the iconic Bee Gees’ songs.

On the show’s opening night some of my expectations were realised, namely in key performances, but various elements outside the cast’s control let the production down.

All My Sons

By Arthur Miller. Directed by Chris McLean. Presented by Heidelberg Theatre Company. 6 Turnham Ave, Rosanna, Melbourne. 7 – 22 July 2017.

All My Sons may seem like it is a play about a bygone era, yet many of the themes that were highlighted in this production were relevant to a contemporary context. Miller’s text is intriguing in the way it shows how the personal cost of war also transforms to a wider loss that is felt in broader society.

The Marriage of Figaro

By Mozart. Opera Australia onTour. Director/Adaptor/Translator: Michael Gow. Conductor: Simon Kenway. Geelong Performing Arts Centre on July 8, 2017, then touring.

I encountered this production in Dandenong last year, at the start of another tour of the country. With another invitation to review, I thought it might have been a new production, but it wasn’t, and many of the performers were retained.

It worked very well with an Australian translation and scenery. The period costumes didn’t quite fit, but no one minded. I don’t recall Cherubino rifling through love letters from his girl-friends to find his commission last time, so that was a welcome innovation.

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.