Reviews

Pure Blonde – Christie Whelan Browne

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Artspace. June 11 – 13, 2015

Award winning director Dean Bryant and musical maestro Mathew Frank have produced a show that pays homage to the blondes of musical theatre and what better performer to bring to life this cabaret than accomplished triple threat Christie Whelan Browne.

Mother Courage and Her Children

By Bertolt Brecht. Translation by Michael Gow. Belvoir, Upstairs Theatre. June 6 – July 26, 2015.

A rectangle painted in the corner of the performance space and a few props, costumes and musical instruments set a bleak scene for this austere production of Brecht’s episodic play about wartime carnage and profiteering. So minimalist is the set, that Mother Courage’s wagon – a bright red modern mobile roadside street stall complete with coloured lights and a roll down counter – seems almost anachronistic.

Drowning in Veronica Lake

Phil Ormsby. Directed by Simon Coleman. Presented by Purple Stage in association with Gasworks Arts Park and Flaxworks Theatre. Touring in 2015.

Alex Ellis is a compelling actress. Her flair, strength and emotional range draw the audience into the world of Veronica Lake from the very first moment that one enters the theatre. Alex Ellis presents as the archetypal screen siren clad in a version of her famous pale satin dress in The Glass Key, a shapely silhouette facing the back of the stage.  She turns, and invites us to join her on a sad, mad and exhilarating romp through Miss Lake’s life journey.

Fool for Love

By Sam Shepard. Directed by Gabriella Rose-Carter. Q44 Theatre Richmond (Vic). June 10th -28th, 2015

Once again I find myself singing the praises of a small independent theatre company with impeccable taste and a thirst for excellence. Sam Shepard’s play on the nature of love is not an easy one to handle. It deals with concepts of love/hate, obsession, guilt, dysfunction, abandonment, shame and betrayal (all within a real-time framework of  70 minutes), and yet manages to find comedy and some lightness within the context. It’s deceptive, and so multi-layered that you need time to think about it afterwards.

Birdland

By Simon Stephens. Directed by Leticia Caceres. MTC. Southbank Theatre Melbourne. 6-27 June, 2015.

Birdland, it is suggested in the program notes to the MTC production, is a contemporary take on "be careful what you wish for" - the cost of fame, the corrupting effects of success. Main character Paul is a rock singer catapulted to stardom and we watch as his career unravels. To this end, the program also includes a couple of interesting articles on how fleeting fame is for young rock bands and a meditation on how Matt Damon copes with celebrity.

Last Orders

National Institute of Circus Arts. Directed by James Brown and Helene Embling. 39-59 Green Street, Prahran. 11-20 June, 2015.

This exceptional show is nothing less than extraordinary. The performances are astonishing, thrilling and breathtaking; a stunning sequence of stylised gesture, movement and mime is craftily married with raw, physically demanding acrobatic feats. The showcase for the 2015 graduating class provides the opportunity to savour the impressive talent of these future stars. The experience is beautifully orchestrated from beginning to end, punctuated with cheeky humour which generates belly aching laughs. Each act exhibits daring, not just in its physicality, but also in its pace and rhythm.

Tex Perkins and the Dark Horses

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Adelaide Festival Centre. Dunstan Playhouse. June 10 & 11, 2015.

Tex is a star. No two ways about it. He owns any stage upon which he steps. He practically devours any microphone he is given. A Tex Perkins show is one that will probably always have a ready and waiting audience, and deservedly so, for the man has built up a tremendous reputation and an enviable back catalogue, with multiple distinguished bands and classic albums under his belt.

The Song was Wrong

Written and directed by Melissa Cantwell. Perth Theatre Company. Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA. Perth WA. 4-20 June, 2015

The Song was Wrong, written and directed by Melissa Cantwell, is a gorgeously gentle, sweetly told story, that provides much food for thought and is a pleasure to watch.

This full-length show possibly has only fifteen minutes of dialogue stretched throughout the evening and Perth Theatre Company's production relies strongly on movement, striking stillness and choreography to move the action. Largely allegorical and relying strongly on metaphor, there are many questions not firmly answered and it leaves much to the interpretation of the audience.

Frisky & Mannish

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide. June 10-12, 2015

British musical comedy duo Laura Corcoran (vocals) and Matthew Floyd Jones (piano and vocals) latest show as Frisky & Mannish is an affectionate ribbing of pop-music’s goofier aspects.

Marney McQueen - Hair To The Throne

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Space Theatre. June 7 & 8, 2015.

NIDA graduate Marney McQueen has made a name for herself as the chameleon of cabaret, so it was no surprise when the very sexy and cheeky Rosa Waxoffsi joined us to share her tales of life, from growing up in Leningrad to immigrating to Australia to become the much sought after bikini-waxer to the stars. McQueen brings this sassy individual, full of confidence and quick wit, to life and the results are hilarious.

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