Reviews

The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me

By David Drake. Oxford Hotel, Darlinghurst. March 26 – April 6, 2014.

This two-man play returns for an encore season, reprogrammed at much more civilised times after a season of late nights during the Mardi Gras festival.

They’re Playing Our Song

By Neil Simon. Music by Marvin Hamlisch. Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager. HIT Productions. Directed by Terence O’Connell. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. 28 March – 5 April 2014.

They’re Playing Our Song represents (though how accurately it’s hard to say) the real-life working and personal relationship between the musical’s real-life composer and lyricist, fictionalised as Vernon and Sonia respectively.  It’s a tale that is character-based rather than plot-driven, and as such depends very much for its entertainment value on physical cues to the relationship’s effect on both protagonists.

Thawed

Xavier Michelides. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Trades Hall. 27 Mar – 20 April, 2014

Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future (Wikipedia). Xavier Michelides’ performance in Thawed raises some interesting questions about how the process of resuscitation will occur and what will be the affects on the newly thawed.

Pop Mashup: Happy Birthday Doctor!

Katherine Phelps: Writer/Director. Presented by Glass Wings. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The Butterfly Club, Saturday and Sunday, 29 March to 20 April, 2014

The publicity for this show looks very professional and the concept promising. Unfortunately the reality did not live up to the hype. This advertised  “mash up of Harry Potter, Doctor Who and the Grumpy Cat” widely missed the mark in a number of ways.

Impromptunes: The Completely Improvised Musical

Founder: Emmet Nichols. Accompanist: Greg Lavell. 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Trades Hall Annexe. Mar 27 – April 20, 2014

This year I finally decided to take the plunge and put my hand up to review some of the shows in the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Spoilt for choice I selected those of interest which I was able to attend.

The prospect of performers improvising their own musical was just too tempting. How could they do it?

In a word, brilliantly!

The audience were asked for a title of the show and came up with “Ice Cream Has No Bones”. We then had an overture, based on the tune “Greensleeves” (the Mr Whippy theme) and the musical began.

Geraldine Quinn MDMA: Modern Day Maiden Aunt

Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Melbourne Town Hall 27 Mar - 20 April, 2014

Geraldine Quinn is the very model of a Modern Day Maiden Aunt. As a trained actor and self-taught songwriter she draws on her relationships with her 6 siblings and 19 nieces and nephews as the basis for this very funny one-woman show.

She shares her experience growing up in Noble Park in a big family, her observations on parenting styles and the advantages and disadvantages of being a maiden aunt who happens to be a an actor/singer/songwriter touring comedy festivals and fronting a rock band.

Puppet Up! - Uncensored

Henson Alternative. Melbourne International Comedy Festival and touring. Princess Theatre, March 27 – 30 & April 8 – 20, 2014; Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, April 1 – 6; Brisbane Powerhouse, April 24 – 26.

I really don’t like improv. I find it a bit of a yawn really as actors and comedians try to prove how funny they are by “instantaneously” coming up with a scene as if contribution from the audience is the first time those words have ever been said.  I do, however, love puppets! The more muppet-y the puppet, the better. So of course I couldn’t say no to the idea of seeing Henson Alternative’s Puppet Up! The idea of improv with puppets was just too interesting to pass up. I’m glad I didn’t pass because Puppet Up!

Cock

By Mike Bartlett. Sound composed by Missy Higgins. La Boite / Melbourne Theatre Company. Roundhouse Theatre (Qld). 27 March – 12 April, 2014.

The title is provocative but the substance of this play runs much deeper.

In Marg Horwell’s set and costume design, everyday clothes, no props, no furniture and a hundred or more pillows, this cast of four (only one named - John - played by Tom Conroy) negotiate some of the most delicate and troublesome emotional territory faced by anyone at some stage in their lives: deep meaningful love, and choices.

All’s Well That Ends Well

By William Shakespeare. Sport for Jove. Seymour Centre, Sydney. March 27 – April 12, 2014.

Despite recent debate about auteur directors overloading classics with their own contemporary readings and staging little of the original, Shakespeare should thank his stars for Damien Ryan.

All’s Well That Ends Well is a rarely staged, so-called Problem Play which I’ve never seen. So first, it’s exciting to go to a Shakespeare and not know the (fantastical) ending! Set in France and in wars in Italy, it’s a fairy tale mix of tragedy and comedy, and one of his most explicit plays about sexual politics. 

 

What Does the K Stand For?

Stephen K Amos. Part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Athenaeum Theatre, 27 Mar – 20 Apr, 2014

Back in Australia for a series of performances at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, British comedian Stephen K Amos delivered an hour of brilliant stand-up at the Athenaeum Theatre, wowing the audience with his wit, terrific comic timing and sparkling improvisational skills.

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