Reviews

Life Is Impossible

By Paul Gilchrist. Old 505 Theatre, Sydney. Presented by subtlenuance & Old 505 Freshworks. Director: Paul Gilchrist. 18 - 23 February 2020

Never knowing quite what to expect, one climbs the many external stairs to the Old 505 with something like grim uncertainty. But this is a good’un, a well-directed cast of four, burrowing deep into a story that’s set in 1942 New York. The sparse audience are wrapt as happy-go-lucky Elaine from Australia, becomes ever-deeper involved in the life of Simone, a tortured French philosopher stranded by the war and desperate to get back into the action.

Promise and Promiscuity

A New Musical by Jane Austen and Penny Ashton. Adelaide Fringe. Masonic - Owl Room at Gluttony - Masonic Lodge North Terrace. 20 Feb - 23 Feb - 1 Mar, 2020

There is a reason why Penny Ashton’s 70 -minute show is an award-winning romp through the rigidity, mores and strictures that society demanded during the 1800’s Regency period.  There are 33 quotes of Austen’s and the music, with aptly penned new lyrics, is ‘borrowed’ from the music of the period (but is much more fun this time). This show is impeccably penned, cleverly weaving in biting modern references with characters who are unashamedly created in the likeness of Jane Austen’s heroes and heroines. They include Mr.

The Rise and Disguise of Elizabeth R

Written by Gerry Connolly, Nick Coyle and Gus Murray. Music by Max Lambert. Sugary Rum Productions and Hayes Theatre. Directed by Shaun Rennie. February 13 – March 1, 2020

There has been so much real life drama swirling around the Royal Family this year that my first thought about this production was that Gerry Connolly wouldn’t know what material to leave out. Indeed, when I had the good fortune to sit next to him earlier this year, at another production, he quipped that he had a truck load of material to sort through.

However, much to my surprise, there was only a sparse reference to Harry and Meghan (nobody asks me how I’m doing) Markle and the sad plight of Prince Andrew in this production.

The Spooky Men in Concert

The Independent Theatre, North Sydney. February 16, 2020

Who are the Spooky Men?

I’ve seen The Spooky Men three times! Does that mean I’m a Spooky Groupie? Perhaps!

Each time I’ve seen them I’ve been impressed by their voices, their comic concentration and their Spookmeister, Stephen Taberner’s droll humour and wait-a-bit-longer-and-I’ll-come-to-the-point delivery. I’ve been further impressed by the size, enthusiasm and demographic of the audiences that follow them.

Crunch Time

By David Williamson. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 14 February – 9 April 2020

The Ensemble Theatre is packed to the gunnels. Its favourite son, the writer David Williamson, author of over 50 plays, 24 plays staged here, watches as the lights come up on the very last, Crunch Time. After 50 years of play writing, this is officially the end, finis, the final curtain. He put down his pen 11 months ago ‘and I haven’t missed it one little bit’. 

Eh Canadian Comedy Dream

Adelaide Fringe. The Sky Room at The Griffins Hotel. 19 February - 1 March, 2020.

On arriving at Eh Canadian Comedy Dream to see British Columbian comedian Alex Mackenzie, I expected a show about Canada- its quirks, its funny ways and to be opened up to the comedy of the country. It was evident that the others in the audience had come with the same expectation.

A Butterfly Effect

Adelaide Fringe. First Draft. Bakehouse Theatre. 17 – 22 February 2020

The ‘butterfly effect’ is where a small change at a point in time creates a significant change in the outcome.

A Butterfly Effect is a frustrating sixty minutes observing four people stumble through a wandering commentary on their character’s lives.

Every Brilliant Thing

By Duncan Macmillan. Adelaide Fringe. The Bus Stop. 18 Feb - 21 Feb, 2020.

I rarely leave my living room to go to the theatre in a living room, but ​Every Brilliant Thing​ is just what the name describes. Beginning its life as a short story by Englishman Duncan Macmillan and now performed by Canadian Michael Torontow, it is the story of one troubled boy becoming a man, one whose whole life is spent dealing with depression and suicide. Sounds miserable, but this artful monologue is entertaining, uplifting, informative and deeply insightful.

The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde. Adapted by Jon Haynes, Jude Kelly & David Woods. Merlyn Theatre, The Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank. 14 February – 8 March, 2020.

The ingenuity in this production of Wilde’s most famous farce is not in its re-interpretation of the text but in its capacity to fully expose all the underlying allusions. Jon Haynes and David Woods, renowned for their comedy work with the independent theatre company Ridiculusmus, set themselves an almost impossible task. The two comedy actors take on all the parts in the play, executing some very demanding and often challenging costume and character changes. The result is hilarious, enthralling and induces side-splitting laughter.

Once Upon A Fractured Fairytale

By Joondalup Entertainers Theatre School. Directed by Ros Boyer. Musical direction by Chelsea Gibson. The Big Top, Woodside Pleasure Garden, Russel Square, Northbridge, WA. Feb 8-16, 2020

Once Upon A Fractured Fairytale was written and performed by 10-18 year old students of the Joondalup Entertainers Theatre School, and is a bright and complex story of fairytale characters gone awry. 

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