Reviews

Jumpers for Goalposts

By Tom Wells. Directed by Tom Healey. Red Stitch Theatre Company, St Kilda. November 19 – December 20, 2014

Jumpers for Goalposts is a beautifully written, thought-provoking play – the title refers to the predilection of English folk to improvise a game of soccer using whatever facilities are to hand. ‘Barely Athletic’ are an amateur soccer team consisting of three gay men and one token straight, none of whom appear to be any great shakes as players. This doesn’t stop their lesbian coach Viv from being determined that they’re going to win a trophy which she can proudly display on the wall of her pub.

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Hugh Wheeler. New Theatre (NSW). Director: Giles Gartrell-Mills. Musical Director: Liam Kemp. Choreographer: Trent Kidd. November 18 – December 20, 2014.

Adapted from a blood and thunder melodrama, Sweeney Todd tells the tale of a barber, a former convict who returns to London from Australia bent on revenge for his unjust transportation, and proceeds slit the throats his customers, who are subsequently baked into pies by his accomplice Mrs Lovett.

Othello

By William Shakespeare. State Theatre Company of SA. Directed by Nescha Jelk. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide. November 14-30, 2014

This Othello successfully drags Shakespeare kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

The main action unfolds against a background of desert warfare, Victoria Lamb’s set and costume design chillingly evocative of battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The prevailing atmosphere of bleak desolation is enhanced by the nuanced mood-lighting of Geoff Cobham and the pounding force of Jason Sweeney’s techno-infused score.

Over The River and Through The Woods

By Joe DiPietro. Directed by Dexter Bourke. 1812 Theatre, Upper Ferntree Gully (Vic). 20th November -13th December, 2014.

In his programme notes, Director Dexter Bourke says, “Theatre is much more than a reflection of life, for me it is life itself, allowing ourselves to be more of ourselves than we would normally be.” It is with this understanding that he gives us a wonderful, funny and poignant production with a stellar cast who have a combined total of more than 350 years (by my calculations) of life experience, which they share lovingly with the audience.

James Joyce’s The Dead

Music: Shaun Daley. Lyrics: Richard Nelson & Shaun Davey. Book: Richard Nelson based on James Joyce’s The Dead. Villanova Players. Director: Rod Thompson. Musical Director: Mary Greathead. Choreography: Lynette Wockner. The Theatre, TAFE, Morningside. Brisbane, 21 Nov – 6 Dec 2014

The musical version of James Joyce’s acclaimed short-story The Dead from the Dubliners is not your typical piece of musical theatre. More a play with songs, the work recalls an earlier time when families gathered around the piano and sang favourite tunes. There was no traditional orchestra as such with members of the cast playing various musical instruments on stage; piano, fiddle, flute, concertina and a bodhran (an Irish Frame Drum).

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress

By Alan Ball. Javeenbah Theatre Company, Gold Coast. Director: Dawn China. November 21st – December 6th, 2014

Alan Ball, the creator of TV shows and films like Six Feet Under, True Blood and American Beauty has penned this very witty dark comedy, set at the home wedding reception of Tracey and Scott: She is despised by all the Bridesmaids – the Five Women Wearing the Same Dressand he has had a fling (of sorts) with each of the Bridesmaids.

Farndale Avenue … A Christmas Carol

Written and composed by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jnr. Tambourine Mountain Little Theatre, Gold Coast. Director: Joan Stalker Brown. Nov 7th to 22nd, 2014.

The “girls” were at it again.... The members of The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Town’s Women Guild Dramatic Society decided to present Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol with the usual dysfunctional results.

Joan Stalker Brown obviously had a ‘ball’ at rehearsals with this odd assortment of characters in the hands of the 5 ‘well intentioned’ members of the Guild.

The talented cast of Laney McLean, Linda Simister, Sonia Wagstaff, Tony Hall and Steve Silansky between them, tackled 24 characters.

Tosca

By Giacomo Puccini. Yarra Opera. Conductor: Nigel McBain. Memorial Hall, Healesville (Vic) November 22 & 23, 2014.

I well remember the impressive Dido and Aeneas by the forerunner of Yarra Opera, so I was looking forward to this foray into Puccini. I was only partly satisfied.

The orchestra of less than twenty did very well. This particularly applied to the brass and woodwinds. There were a couple of keyboards to fill in for missing instruments and everything was quite tight until a couple of loose moments in Act 3.

Tom, Dick and Harry

By Ray and Michael Cooney. Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Nov 20 – 29, 2014

The Adelaide Repertory Theatre has chosen a ‘cracker’ of a comedy to finish the year off. Directing this British farce is veteran performer and award winning director Ian Rigney. Farce can be a challenge to direct as pace and timing are vital to the flow of the plot, but Rigney’s wealth of experience shows as this play rockets along from one side splitting gag to another.

Gasp!

By Ben Elton. Director: Wesley Enoch. QTC & Black Swan State Theatre. Playhouse, QPAC. 20 Nov – 7 Dec 2014.

Ben Elton’s Gasp! is a funny, satiric, non-PC laugh-fest.

Mining conglomerate Lockheart Industries are running out of things to rip out of the ground and come up with the idea to market ‘designer air.’ In an age where ‘designer water’ is marketed worldwide, it’s not such a stretch to imagine a scenario in the future where will have to pay to breathe.

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