Reviews

The Book Club

By Roger Hall. Directed by Nadia Tass. Lawler Theatre, Southbank. July 23 - August 28, 2016

About fifteen minutes into this play/one woman show by New Zealand’s Roger Hall,  you realise that two remarkably talented women are performing magic – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear; something seemingly impossible. Amanda Muggleton and Nadia Tass might even be Siamese twins, so closely and seamlessly connected are they. They have taken a script which is little more than a collection of old gags and shtick, worthy of a Ray Cooney play, and turned it into a theatrical piece full of whimsy and poignant moments.

Simon Boccanegra

By Verdi. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. July 26 – August 13, 2016

So where do you start with a convoluted, inexplicable plot like this one?

Perhaps with the singing, which is sublime - even if the often wooden acting offers little help in sorting out the story. Verdi himself had two goes at this medieval tale set in the politically fractious court of a Doge of Genoa.  

For this Opera Australia production in 2000, director Moffatt Oxenbould set it at the time of Verdi’s second attempt, in 1881, to underline the composer’s intention to remind his Italian audience of the worth of their newly reunified nation. 

Funny Girl

Music by Jule Styne. Lyrics by Bob Merrill. Book by Isobel Lennart. The Production Company. Directed by Gale Edwards. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. July 23rd to 31st 2016.

When Caroline O’Connor, as Fanny Brice, sings “I’m The Greatest Star” early in Act One of Funny Girl, you’d better believe her. You won’t believe she’s a 19 year old, but it won’t matter. Ms O’Connor continues to awe and delight us with her extraordinary talent, and most of us would wish that she were only 19 so that we had the next 30+ years still to come.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

By Edward Albee. The Theatre On Chester, Epping, NSW. July 22 – August 13, 2016

This iconic work by Edward Albee is a play of its time. When it opened in 1962, it was acclaimed as the play that would lead a revolution in American playwriting. But because it dared to portray a picture of American life that was less than ‘wholesome’, it was also criticised by those who found it “obscene, morbid and decadent”. Yet the play took its place as the harbinger of a new wave of theatre that did what theatre is meant to do … reflect society and question prevailing values and behaviour.

Nought Point Five Above Zero - No Wind

By Maria Kilpi, translated from the Finnish by David Hackston. Nordic Noir Season at La Mama, Carlton (VIC). 21-31 July 2016.

Laura comes by bus from Helsinki to spend Christmas with her long widowed Mummi (grandmother) in Mummi’s small town.  The weather is, of course, cold, hovering just above and just below zero.  It’s better when there’s no wind.  Laura (Sophia Riozzi), a stiff, pale young woman, appears tense, preoccupied, even faintly hostile.  We might wonder why she’s come.  It is mere duty?  Tiny, bird-like Mummi (Shirley Cattunar) seems to be the only family she has.

Those Who Fall in Love Like Anchors Dropped Upon the Ocean Floor

By Finegan Kruckemeyer. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre. 20 July – 6 August, 2016

Visiting from Perth at Sydney’s Griffin Theatre, this talented trio offers a collection of fast stories about falling in love. Finegan Kruckemeyer has an established reputation as a children’s writer; and this (adult) play sports all the whimsy and imaginative fun you might expect from that. 

Conviction

By Zoe Dawson. Darebin Arts Speakeasy and The Zoey Louise Moonbeam Dawson Shakespeare Company. Northcote Town Hall. 23 July – 6 August, 2016

Set in three time frames – early 19th century Australia, the suburban present and some kind of dog-eat-dog, dystopian future – Zoe Dawson tracks a young woman who somehow survives ‘impossible odds’ and creates… nothing.  It begins promisingly enough with some clever staging from director Declan Greene, ingenious set design from Romanie Harper hand-in-glove with Amelia Lever-Davidson’s lighting.  Caroline Lee and Ruby Hughes are Mother and Daughter, felons passing themselves off as airs-and-graces free settlers in this land of opportu

After January

Adapted by Philip Dean from a story by Nick Earl Javeenbah Theatre, Nerang, Gold Coast. Director: Amy-Louise Anderson. 22nd July – 6th August, 2016.

Set on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, After January tells the story of two teenagers’ chance meeting and subsequent relationship.

Dig for the Diggers

By Lynn Brittney. Square Pegs. Directed by Meredith McQueen. Hobart Anglesea Barracks Officers’ Mess, and touring. 8 - 16 July 2016

It may seem hardhearted to say that the Centenary of ANZAC has proved to be a rich field of material for theatrical performances, but that has been the case, with many productions commemorating the 1914-1918 conflict, during which thousands of Australian armed service personnel died. Of the many wonderful productions, one of the most powerful to date is a short play called Dig for the Diggers written by Lynn Brittney and performed by Square Pegs.

 

Drift

By Tara Clark and Kieren Foster. Two Peas. ATYP, Wharf 4/5, Walsh Bay. July 20 – 30, 2016.

Two Peas productions aims to nurture new and emerging artists. Drift is the work of two young co-writers, Tara Clark and Kieran Foster, and a cast of six young actors who are making their names in the Sydney arts scenes.

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