Reviews

An Impending Rupture of the Belly

By Matt Pelfrey. The Kings Fools. Newtown Theatre (NSW). May 20 – June 4, 2011.

This Australian premiere of a rather black American play is surprisingly good. Housed in the small, but not particularly intimate Newtown Theatre, the production, from The Kings Fools, makes the most of the play and the actors.

La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West)

Music: Giacomo Puccini. Libretto: Guelfo Civinni & Carlo Zangarini based on the play by David Belasco. Opera Queensland. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. Original Director: Nigel Jamieson. Revival Director/Choreographer: Gavin Robins. Conductor: Peter Robinson. May 14 – 28, 2011.

Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness

By Anthony Neilson. La Boite and Sydney Theatre Company. Roundhouse Theatre (Qld) - May 14 to June 12. Wharf 1 Theatre, Sydney: June 16 to July 23.

This show has more hoopla and razzle dazzle than your usual theatre fare. Not surprising, drawing as it does, on the style of nineteenth century travelling shows. You can expect magic and wonder, gorgeous costumes (from fashion house Romance Was Born), and occasional assaults on your sensitivities (Warning! Don’t wear pearls!) all done with panache and tongue firmly in cheek.

Fiddler on the Roof

By Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics). CLOC Musical Theatre (Victoria). National Theatre, St. Kilda. Co-Directors, Chris and Lynette White; Musical Director, Phillip Osborne; Lighting Designer, Brad Alcock. 20 May – 4 June, 2011.

It’s an oldie, but a goodie, presented with warmth and confidence by CLOC Musical Theatre.

Peter Nicholls, playing the central role of Tevye, has a voice of liquid gold timbre. I could have listened to If I were a Rich Man all night. Lindy Yates (Golde) speaks volumes with a raised eyebrow or sideways glance.

All other principals make commendable performances with some fine singing, particularly the trio Matchmaker (Michelle Crupi, Lauren McCormack and Clary Riven).

Cabaret

By John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff. Shire Music Theatre (NSW). May 13 – 22.

Indulge me if I write what I like best about this Cabaret first; I have seen stronger all-round productions, though this one has its genuine pleasures, particularly in the musical numbers.

The Hatpin

By James Millar and Peter Rutherford. Magnormos (Vic). Director: Shaun Kingma. Musical Director: Sophie Thomas. St Kilda, Theatreworks. May 16 – 28.

After reading the publicity I was not looking forward to Hatpin. A horror film when I was young put me off the genre, but I came away from opening night feeling uplifted at the story of a young and poor unmarried mother who had the guts to fight City Hall. Though there were horrendous moments, it was the inspirational elements that left a stronger mark.

The 39 Steps

Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the John Buchan novel and the Alfred Hitchcock Movie. Genesian Theatre Company, Sydney. Director: Tom Massey. May 14 – June 25, 2011.

Hitchcock meets vaudevillian Pythonesque, Goonish farce, with a good dash of slapstick, in this stage version of The 39 Steps.

Patrick Barlow’s stage adaptation of the John Buchan espionage thriller (as filmed by Hitchcock) steps on the accelerator, and transforms the script of the 1935 movie (which it follows closely, adding nods to other Hitchcock movies) into a quirky comedy. So, what you get isn’t a thriller, but an affectionate send-up of the genre.

Empire Burning

By Eugene Gilfedder. Co-presented by the author and Metro Arts as part of Independents programme. Sue Benner Theatre (Qld). 13-28 May 2011

This show has legs! Shakespearean in its universality, it would work equally well worldwide. It should become a study text for students (and not just drama students). Theatre directors and teachers, take note!

Disclaimer: This is not ‘a nice show for a night out’. The closer you examine it and discuss it, the more it fits today’s world. It is about us, citizens of the world.

Baal

By Bertolt Brecht, adapted by Tom Wright and Simon Stone. STC and Malthouse at Wharf 1. May 11 – June 11, 2011.

Humble Boy

By Charlotte Jones. Canberra Repertory. Theatre 3. Director: Corille Fraser. 6–21 May 2011

The decease of the Humble family's head, James, has brought together his son and widow; her suitor; and the suitor's daughter in a love–hate quadrangle that has thrived on secrecy, pretence, and hypocrisy, all of which James's death exposes in a morality play that's beautifully staged, often funny, and always truthful.

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