Reviews

The Hot Sardines.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The Famous Spiegeltent. 7-8 Jun, 2019.

The prospect of a jazz band being able to make old sounds seem new again is enough to raise audience expectations very high – perhaps unfairly so. New York’s Hot Sardines do put on a more-than-solid show, powered by undeniable instrumental skill and laced with their own unique brand of quirks (include a tap-dancer and a washboard performance) – but this reviewer was ultimately left with the sense of a group that remained relatively contained and conservative.

Dragon Lady

Written and Performed by Fiona Choi. Adelaide Cabaret Festival – World Premiere. Space Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre. June 7 & 8, 2019

Born in the year of the Dragon, Anna May Wong was the first Chinese American woman to star in the movies. Poured into a black satin dress with a spectacular, sparkly and fiery dragon wrapping itself over her left shoulder, Fiona Choi introduced us to this remarkable woman, through story telling, song and a well-chosen silent movie-style backdrop.

Magpie

By Elise Greig. Directed by Ian Lawson. Presented by Metro Arts, PlayLab and E.G. in association with Brisbane Powerhouse. Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm (Qld). May 29-June 8, 2019

Women are supposed to be brave and strong but when Mordecai’s father dies, she returns to the Australian home of her Romani family to face a gypsy curse that has all but broken her.

There is the review she cannot shake, the luckpenny she cannot refuse, the splinter she cannot remove, and the family she cannot make peace with.

Australian storyteller Elise Greig draws on her own Romani family history in this four-handed drama that is itself brave and strong, drawing characters that are in turn proud and stubborn, fallible, broken and pure of heart.

Dolly Diamond: Parton Me

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Blue Room: Adelaide Festival Centre. June 7-9, 2019

Dolly Diamond, Queen of Cabaret, akathe alter-ego of her ‘manager’, performer Michael Dalton, LGBTIQA+ community icon, star of Rocky Horror Show, backup singer for Julian Clary and star of her own stage version of the game show Blankety Blanks is no carbon copy of country legend, Dolly Parton. But she is the star of a unique and personal 60 minute story, weaving Dolly Parton and Diamond into an uplifting, no holds barred, old style glittering cabaret show; the first of the Adelaide Cabaret season.

The Odd Couple – The Female Version

By Neil Simon. Blackwood Players (SA). Blackwood Memorial Hall. June 7-22, 2019

Just about everyone knows Neil Simon’s original version of The Odd Couple, with its grumpy male protagonists, so it is a treat to see something a bit different, the female version. What’s more, it works and Blackwood Players have produced a very enjoyable staging of this twist on the iconic storyline, predominantly due to the fantastic performance of one actor in particular.

Collaborators

By John Hodge. New Theatre, Newtown, NSW. June 4 – July 6, 2019

Collaborators is a black comedy based on the writer’s ‘magining of Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov’s relationship with the tyrannical Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who covered his ‘reign’ of terror and mass executions with a charismatic appeal that somehow inspired trust. Playwright John Hodge, of Trainspotting fame, tells the story through a dream the ailing Bulgakov has after a production of his play about the death of Moliere.

Pirates of Penzance

Music by Arthur Sullivan. Lyrics by WS Gilbert. The Therry Dramatic Society. Arts Theatre, Adelaide June 6th – 15th, 2019

Some 140 years ago, Pirates was the first Gilbert and Sullivan (fondly referred to as G&S) operetta to preview on the New York stage. Since then, Pirates has become one of the most loved, performed and frequently referenced of their works. It features the famous, much parodied, “Major General’s Song” which has become the basis of innumerable marketing and political campaigns, satire and film and television features.

Nerve

By Adam Symkowicz. IKAG Productions. The Elephant British Pub (SA). 5-15 June, 2019

The dating game. Not always a game. A dance?

IKAG’s production of Nerve at the Elephant British Pub is certainly metaphorically an interesting dance between two people on a first date. A two hander, presented in the upstairs function area of the pub, Nerve is a bold and unusual piece. Cleverly, it utilises the actual pub as the ‘set’ for the play, a soundscape of pub music, and drinks provided from the bar.

The Communists Are in the Funhouse

Written and devised by the ensemble. Tempest. Directed by Susie Conte. The Studio, Subiaco Arts Centre. June 4-8, 2019

The Communists Are in the Funhouse is a devised performance work about the history of hysteria, the experience of periods and the lived experience of women, told through personal experience, video, drama and movement.

The title comes from one of many euphemisms for the time of menstruation. Similar in theme and broad style to its closest theatrical neighbour, Unrule at the Blueroom, this is a vastly different experience, and the two are an interesting theatrical pairing for those who are lucky enough to see both in quick succession.

THRONES! The Musical Parody

By Chris Grace, Zach Reino, Albert Samuels, Nick Semar and Dan Wessels. Director: Chris Grace; Musical Director: Douglas Drew; Choreography: Kim McVicar, Eric Michaud. Sydney Opera House 5 - 30 June, 2019.

I haven't laughed so long and hard in a long time. Thrones! is a musical parody that is superior to and can stand apart from the subject matter it's lampooning.

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