Reviews

One Suitcase: Four Stories

Collaboration between performer Linda Catalano and director Penelope Bartlau. Barking Spider Visual Theatre at the Darebin Homemade Food & Wine Festival. Northcote Town Hall, West Wing, Northcote (VIC). 13 – 17 May 2015

The stage is an Italian kitchen – but one in the suburbs of Melbourne rather than Calabria.  Drying herbs and salamis hang from the overhead drying frame.  A big pot of sugo (sauce) stands ready.  Piles of tomatoes, an aubergine, some zucchini.  A big lump of pasta dough waits to be rolled out.  The audience sits at big wooden tables – each table equipped with its own pasta dough, a board, flour, a stick rolling pin, bunches of parsley, bottles of wine and cutlery in a box.  

Encoded

Stalker Theatre. Presented as part of SEGUE Festival at The Street Theatre, Canberra. 8-9 May 2015.

Encoded messes with your mind in the best possible way, creating optical and temporal illusions by melding live dance and acrobatics with a projected fluid video. The piece opened with extraordinarily beautiful figures, which in the blackness appeared to be made of swirling light. The light danced on their torsos and faces, brilliant red and delicate blue.

Legally Blonde The Musical

Music & Lyrics: Laurence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin. Book: Heather Hach. Engadine Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. May 13 – 17, 2015.

Haven’t seen the 2001 movie starring Reese Witherspoon? Don’t know the plot? Archetypal blonde Elle Woods qualifies for Harvard Law solely to pursue the guy who has dumped her for a more suitable fiancé. After finding her own brand of legal smarts, which stretch well beyond dusty law books, she makes her mark, finds academic success, and finally love with the right guy.

The musical version of this feel-good story is played out with snappy enthusiasm in this production.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Tim Rice. Neptune Productions, Tweed Heads Civic Centre. Director/Musical Director: Wendy Fahey May 8th - May 17th, 2015

After a 12 month hiatus Neptune Productions have staged 'Joseph' with style. Casey Fegan repeats his performance of several years ago and is complemented by the talented Louise Harris as the Narrator. Strong performances also came from Jackson Brash as Pharaoh and Samantha Naday as Mrs Potiphar.

Lloyd Webber’s tuneful score was presented by the enthusiastic children’s choir and the pit orchestra supporting the adult members of the cast.

Rotunda

The New Zealand Dance Company. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. May 13 – 16, 2015.

Timed to honour the Gallipoli landings in 1915, Rotunda brings together contemporary dance and the haunting role that brass bands have played in farewelling servicemen (often from the rotundas in parks in country towns) as they left for the front – and accompanying them again as they march, year after year, to remember the fallen.

PESCADO: A Circus Cabaret Fusion

The National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA). 2nd year students. Directed by Hayden Spencer and Carita Farrer Spencer. NICA National Circus Centre, Movement Studio. May 13 – 16, 2015

There is something clearly fishy going on at NICA, the only institution in Australia where you can get a Bachelor degree in Circus Arts. The 2nd year students have pooled their talents (yes a fishy pun…) to create a piscean inspired cabaret.

This Is Where We Live

By Vivienne Walshe. State Theatre Company of South Australia and Hothouse Theatre. Directed by Jon Halpin. The Space Theatre, Festival Centre, Adelaide. May 12-16, 2015

This Is Where We Live is a confronting hour of theatre, that is uncompromising in its exploration of such topics as teenage alienation, depression, substance abuse, dysfunctional families and social prejudices.

Massacre

Directed and written by Paulo Castro. Produced by Colectivo 84 (Lisbon). Australian Tour co-produced by Stone/Castro. Performed by Paulo Castro and John Romão. SEGUE Festival at the Street Theatre, Canberra, 9 May 2015 and La Mama Courthouse, Melbourne, 13 - 17 May 2015

As we were ushered in, we were asked to take a seat near the centre perhaps so that the performers could direct the full intensity of this extraordinary piece directly at us, breaking the metaphorical fourth wall with glares straight into our souls—or at least, that was how it felt. Paulo Castro’s Massacre is blood-soaked poetry full of anger, resentment and accusation, with moments of quiet beauty and foreboding moving towards horror. This is not a straight retelling of the story and there is no realistic "massacre" as such.

A Bengal Tiger At the Baghdad Zoo

By Rajiv Joseph. Directed by Andre Victor. Playlovers' Theatre, Hackett Hall, Floreat, WA. May 8 -23, 2015

Some productions have a more difficult gestation than others, and it would appear Playlovers' A Bengal Tiger At the Baghdad Zoo pregnancy and labour were more fraught than most. Directed by debut director Andre Victor, it is very powerfully acted and the excellent performances make up for any shortfalls in production dressing.

Very simply staged — in a very minimalist style — which may be more accident than design, the lack of decoration has the advantage of throwing more emphasis on the actors.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Book: Richard Morris & Dick Scanlan. Music: Jeanine Tesori. Lyrics: Dick Scanlan. UMMTA. Director: Spencer Hadlow. Musical Directors: Taylen Furness/Vanessa Tunggal. Choreographer: Keshia Contini. Union Theatre, University of Melbourne. May 8 – 16, 2015.

This was an unusually conservative choice for a University company, but very well done. Minimalistic sets were pushed around stage, allowing quick changes of scene. The direction was excellent.

Grace Haslinghouse was a feisty Millie with an excellent voice and she worked very well with Tom Kantor as her love interest, Jimmy. His light lyric tenor was a delight.

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