Reviews

9 to 5

Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. Book by Patricia Resnick, based on the screenplay by Resnick and Colin Higgins. Directed by Kim Edwards. Fab Nobs Theatre, Bayswater. April 7 – 22, 2017

When I first started reviewing, some 6 years ago now, my first foray into Community Theatre was Fab Nobs. I’ll admit I was dreading it, but this little company, which always punches well above its weight, opened my eyes and not only made me a fan of their work, but a devotee of all great Community musical theatre – and believe me Melbourne has the best in the country. Fabnobs may not have access to the production budgets of PLOS or CLOC, but there’s the same level of commitment to excellence and talent.

Grease, The Arena Experience

Book, Music & Lyrics by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey. Harvest Rain Theatre Company. Executive Producer: Tim O'Connor. Director & Choreography: Callum Mansfield. Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. 7th-9th April, 2017 and then touring

This recently well-publicised Brisbane venue was rocking last night for more than one reason. More like over 850 reasons, the amount of exuberant cast members prancing across the extremes of this arena experience complete with revolving stage and colourful lighting: such a good choice for a production of this size. And it was a wise choice, too, to use the updated version that includes those three memorable songs specifically written for the movie. No need to mention them here.

The Diary of Anne Frank

By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Arts Theatre, Angas St. April 6-22, 2017.

The Diary of Anne Frank is not a play that one usually connects with a good night out. I headed to the Arts Theatre, Adelaide, on the opening night of this play, knowing that there was to be no way out for the characters in this story and feeling a depth of dread about going to the theatre to potentially be depressed. This beautiful production left me feeling neither of these emotions. What I did feel was calm and reflective. I was humbled by the experiences of these, and many millions of other Jews in the Holocaust.

Once Upon A Mattress

Music: Mary Rodgers. Lyrics: Marshall Barer. Book: Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller and Marshall Barer. Laughing Horse Productions. Directed by Adam Salathiel. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana, WA. 7-22 April, 2017

Once Upon A Mattress is an infrequently performed musical, which is a pity as this slightly spicy fairy-tale of a show is a delight for audience and performers alike. This youth production is presented by Laughing Horse Productions and features performers from eight year of age. While there is a wide range of experience and varying vocal and acting abilities in the cast, they are all focused and working hard and there is a wonderful feeling of camaraderie.

Red Flag

Greta Lee Jackson. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Evatt Room @ Trades Hall. 30 March – 9 April 2017

Greta Lee Jackson. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Evatt Room @ Trades Hall. 30 March – 9 April 2017

Greta presents how she undermines her very unsuccessful attempts to form adult relationships because of her desperate need to be accepted and her use of sex and drugs to ‘spak fill’ where the ‘trauma termites’ had eaten away her self-esteem.

Hachiko

Directed by Phillip Mitchell. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle, WA. April 8-22, 2017

Hachikō was probably Japan’s most famous dog, This loyal akita, who waited patiently for his deceased owner to return for nearly ten years, is remembered in a statue at Shibuya Station in Japan, where he had kept his vigil. This production is a lovely interpretation of his story.

This show has nods to its Japanese origins in some of the costuming, and in an origami feel to ‘lead’ puppet Hachiko. Lots of natural tones in set and puppets blend with splashes of primary colour, in a thoughtful design by Matt McVeigh.

The Rasputin Affair

By Kate Mulvany. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). April 1 to 30, 2017

The multi-talented Kate Mulvany has let her very vivid and extremely articulate imagination run wild in this farcical interpretation of the assassination of Rasputin, the mystic ‘monk’ who wormed his way into favour with the Russian royal family prior to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The play is a romp – a mischievous piece of theatre that pushes the boundaries of style and pace, reaching a crescendo of ridiculous, well-timed action that will either delight – or dismay.

Nikki Britton is Romanticide

Written & Performed by Nikki Britton. Melbourne Comedy Festival. The Ladies Lounge, The Forum, Flinders Street. 30 March – 23 April 2017.

As the title of the show has it, Nikki Britton’s fast and very funny stand-up spiel is anti-romantic.  Or, more exactly, it points up the contrast between ‘Romance’ and the harsh or sordid or humiliating or, sometime, smelly, reality.

The Play That Goes Wrong

By Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields. Directed by Mark Bell, Sean Turner (Australia). Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, Kenny Wax Ltd, Stage Presence, David Atkins Enterprises, ABA International Touring and Mischief Theatre Company. 5-23 April, 2017

So here I am, posting a review from Sydney after The Play That Goes Wrong has played Melbourne and Adelaide and reviewers have raved from both cities. 

The play has been running on the West End for three years. It opens on Broadway this month and follow-up productions proliferate: Peter Pan Goes Wrong is coming. Apart from its attack on amateur dramatics, what can I say that might stem the flow?

Lord Of The Flies

Matthew Bourne. From the novel by William Golding. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. April 5 – 9, 2017.

William Golding’s iconic novel is enjoying, along with Orwell’s 1984, something of a resurgence in this strange new era of society we find ourselves embroiled in. Golding’s novel is confronting, and often frightening, as it holds up the mirror to a world driven by power, as well as survival, where the weak and the gentle find little compassion, where the will of the Tribe over-rides the rights of the individual. It is a stark and challenging narrative, crystal clear in its intent and very pertinent today, given what we are seeing overseas.

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