Reviews

Wicked

Music & Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz. Book: Winnie Holzman. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. Packemin Productions. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. July 29 – August 13, 2016

Packemin’s production of the Stephen Schwartz musical spectacle Wicked was an incredible night of theatre. The theatre’s foyer was abuzz, waiting for the doors to open; everyone waiting to witness what the group would deliver with this magical musical.

Beirut Adrenaline

By Hala Ghosn and Jalie Barcilon. Théâtre Excentrique. Directed by Anna Jahjah. Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney.July 28 – Aug 14, 2016

On the opening night of Beirut Adrenaline, a play about the Lebanon war in the 1980s, a speaker from the Australian Lebanese Historical Society gave an introductory talk. She spoke about the play’s resonance for Lebanese Australians, many of whom migrated here during this civil war. Her speech immediately put the play in an Australian context and highlighted the direct links with our lives today. The potential is clear.

Equus

By Peter Shaffer. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Director: Brenda White. 30 Jul – 3 Sep 2016

Peter Shaffer’s Equus was the cause celebre of the seventies. It was the play that turned the Schubert Organization fortunes around when it premiered on Broadway and made a star of Anthony Hopkins, and it became infamous for the shock of having a young man naked on stage at a time when puritan values were still in existence.

Three Sisters

By Anton Chekhov. Sport For Jove. Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre (NSW). July 28 –August 13, 2016.

The plot may be simple – three sisters pine to return to Moscow, but they don’t.  So while they journey to nowhere, there are plenty of rewarding stops in this mighty new production from Sport For Jove.  

Mighty is the cast size of 20, and so too is the running time of three and a half hours, in this direct translation (Karen Vickery) true to Chekhov’s original.  Georgia Hopkins also fills her wide stage with all the details of Chekhov’s world of provincial Russia circa 1900, while Emma Vime does the same with fine period costumes.

Wicked

Music & Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz. Book: Winnie Holzman. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. Director: Madeleine Johns. Musical Director: Sherree Drummond. Redcliffe Musical Theatre. Redcliffe Cultural Centre. 29 July – 14 August, 2016.

As the Wicked community theatre juggernaut rolls out around the country Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s Queensland premiere deserves a place near the top. Madeleine Johns’ production brought all the excitement of the original including the flying, a glittering and functional set, lavish costumes, and a clear vision of the story. Wicked groupies could not have been happier.

 

Changes

Conceptualised by Kendall-Jane Rundle and Jeff Wortman. Directed by Kendall- Jane Rundle. Musial Direction by Jeff Wortman. Live music by Robot Child. Lighting design by Bryn Cullen and Rob Sowinski. Stage Management by Michael Wilson. Sound by LSS Productions. Gasworks Arts Park Theatre. July 27 – August 6, 2016

This presentation was conceived as a theatrical tribute to the music of David Bowie. The musical excellence of the band, Robot Child, anchored the more than 2 hour long performance. The characteristic soaring, insistent riffs were very competently delivered.  Two singers, Kendall-Jane Rundle and Jeff Wortman sang the majority of the songs. David Bowie’s voice was distinctive with a 3.5 octave range. Singing his songs presents a challenge.

On Golden Pond

By Ernest Thompson. Castle Hill Players. The Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill. July 29 – Aug 20, 2016.

On Golden Pond was first performed in New York in 1979 and consequently adapted into a screenplay in 1981 starring Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. The play has since been produced in 40 countries. In 2005 Ernest Thompson revised it and it was produced on Broadway with a full African American cast.

The reason for its lasting appeal is that it is a gentle play about ageing and family. It’s about a relationship that has lasted for 48 years, a relationship that needs a little mending and a new relationship that adds a missing spark.

The Chat

By J R Brennan & David Woods; concept J R Brennan; collaborator Ashley Dyer. Arts House, North Melbourne. 27 – 31 July 2016.

This is a show that questions the nature of ‘justice’ and the responsibility of a society (us never-been-arrested-never-been-charged folks) that leaves it up to the ‘justice system’ to administer it – not so well.  There are eight performers – Nick Apostilidis, Arthur Bolkas, Ty Luke, Nick Maltzahn, John Tjepkema, J R Brennan, Ashley Dyer and David Woods.  Some of them are ex-crims, big blokes who look like they’ve been around the block, but one wears a dog collar and is covered in tattoos, while another wears floral trousers and long stri

Straight White Men

By Young Jean Lee. La Boite Theatre Company/State Theatre Company of South Australia. Director: Nescha Jelk. Roundhouse Theatre, Kelvin Grove. 27 Jul – 13 Aug 2016

Recently widowed and retired engineer Ed (Roger Newcombe) invites his three sons, Jake (Chris Pitman) an asshole banker, Drew (Lucas Stibbard) a cynical author/teacher, and Matt (Hugh Parker) a disillusioned Harvard educated leftie to spend Christmas with him. All goes swimmingly as they revert to childhood games, joke crudely, and get drunk, but the high-jinks are sobered when over Chinese takeaway Matt suddenly bursts into tears.

Twelfth Night

By William Shakespeare. Belvoir Street Theatre. July 23 – September 4, 2016.

Belvoir’s new production of Twelfth Night may be studded with Sydney stars but it takes a while to get off the floor.  On Michael Hankin’s bare stage, with walls brightly splashed in  modernist colours, it’s hard to know where are and why we are here. 

The actors, while virtuosic as character comedians, seem at first to be in different plays – despite Stephen Curtis dressing all in late Renaissance period.

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