Reviews

Carrie

Music: Michael Gore. Lyrics: Dean Pitchford/ Book: Lawrence D. Cohen based on the novel by Stephen King. Director: Zoe Tuffin. Musical Director: Dominic Woodhead. Choreographer: Dan Venz. Wax Lyrical Production. Powerhouse, Brisbane. 21-30 January 2016

The much maligned musical version of Carrie plays surprisingly better than its spotty performance record has led us to believe. An infamous flop in the UK and New York in 1988, the show based on Stephen King’s Gothic horror novel was heavily revised for a successful Off-Broadway production in 2012. It’s this version of the script and score that Wax Lyrical has chosen to launch their company and the musical’s first Brisbane Season.

Liza’s Back (is broken)

Conceived by Trevor Ashley. Written by Phil Scott and Trevor Ashley. Musical Supervision and arrangements by Max Lambert. Fairfax Studio. Arts Centre Melbourne. January 20 – 31, 2016

Performers can be stars without having extraordinary talent; and some can have extraordinary talent without ever becoming stars. It’s quite rare for a performer to combine both without being a household name, but then Trevor Ashley is a rarity in so many ways. Most recently seen stunning audiences as M.

Tomorrow’s Parties

Forced Entertainment. Directed by Tim Etchells. Carriageworks, Sydney Festival. Jan 20 – 24, 2016

Tomorrow’s Parties is not an easy show. Not easy to perform and not exactly easy to watch either.

That’s because it’s anything but conventional theatre: it’s a performance that isn’t very physical and doesn’t really progress in any substantial way. It’s two people speaking, in turn, about ideas of the future, often insightful and profound, but when it comes down to it, for a very long time.

Cole

Performed by Michael Griffiths. Written by Anna Goldsworthy. Music and lyrics by Cole Porter. 45 Downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane Melbourne. 20-24 January, 2015.

First performed at last year's Adelaide Cabaret Festival and now in Melbourne for Midsumma, Cole is a cabaret show on the life and songs of Cole Porter as performed by singer-pianist Michael Griffiths. The clever script by Anna Goldsworthy weaves together a generous selection of timeless Porter tunes with anecdotes taken from his personal life, peppered with plenty of those bon mots he was known for knocking off.

Ladies in Black

Music and Lyrics by Tim Finn. Book by Carolyn Burns (Based on the book by Madeleine St John). Directed by Simon Phillips. MTC (with QTC). Southbank Theatre. Jan 16 – Feb 27, 2016

There’s much to love in Ladies in Black; for a start it’s a genuine home grown musical with all the traditions of Musical Theatre, and that makes it as scarce as hen’s teeth. Based on Madeleine St John’s novel “The Women in Black”, this show proves that lightweight doesn’t have to be a derogatory term….in this case it helps the show to fly and feel good throughout.

The Golden Age

By Louis Nowra. Sydney Theatre Company. Wharf 1 Theatre, Walsh Bay. Jan 14 – Feb 20, 2016

Louis Nowra’s 1985 classic The Golden Age sprang from a decade when our playwrights  wrote not domestic snapshots but big picture, big cast, thematically ambitious epics.

Nowra’s ironically titled play follows the discovery after nearly a century of a lost tribe of convicts in the wilds of Tasmania, but also trips through the collapse of civilisations from ancient Greece to Nazi Germany.  This is no less than the clash of culture and nature, of classes, of settler and indigenous histories, and what’s forging our national identity.  

Loaded. A Double Bill of New Plays

By Gita Bezard and Will O'Mahoney. Directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Will O'Mahoney. Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA. 14 Jan - 7 Feb 2015

Loaded. A Double Bill of New Plays is a Black Swan Lab Production, the more experimental arm of the Black Swan State Theatre Company.

A showcase and training ground for emerging artists, both of the plays are World Premieres and all eight actors make their debut with the company in this production.

Sticks Stones Broken Bones

Monkey Baa Theatre Company / Bunk Puppets. Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre, Sydney. Jan 20 – 22, 2016.

Recommended for awards from the Edinburgh Fringe, the Perth Fringe and the Adelaide Fringe, this clever production from Bunk Puppets is entertaining and intriguing. Puppeteer Tim Sneddon is a versatile performer who initially captures the interest of the audience with a range of strange vocal sound effects, then totally captivates them with a delightful ‘cast’ of shadow puppets that he creates on stage from various pieces of clothing and household detritus.

No One Likes Me

Written & performed by Darren Vizer. Devize Co. La Mama, Carlton (VIC), as part of the 2016 Midsumma Festival. 16 -31 January 2016.

With the final sequence of Darren Vizer’s autobiographical one-man show about growing up gay, the material suddenly becomes powerful, complex and disturbing.

Prior to this sequence, the show is truthful, sometimes painful, sometimes poignant, but also rather familiar and lacking in detail.  Mr Vizer, a trained dancer and choreographer, interpolates brief dance sequences, but if the intention is to illuminate the text, the import of these seems vague. 

The Rabbits

Composer Kate Miller-Heidke, librettist Lally Katz, adaptation (from the book by John Marsden and Shaun Tan) John Sheedy. Opera Australia. Roslyn Packer Theatre, Sydney. January 14 – 24, 2016.

This new music hall opera targeting the kids has already been acclaimed at the Perth and Melbourne festivals and awarded four Helpmanns. 

Based on John Marsden’s book, illustrated by Shaun Tan, The Rabbits is about their colonising arrival and the pain and displacement they cause the native marsupials.  It’s a witty, sometimes heavy-handed, often moving primer on Aboriginal experience and environmental destruction, adapted by director John Sheedy to a libretto by Larry Katz. 

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