Reviews

The Patrick Pearse Motel

By Hugh Lennard. Players Theatre, Ballina. Director: Sue Belsham. September 9th – 18th, 2016

Sue Belsham makes a welcome return directing this Irish Farce; full of blarney and shillelaghs and not a leprechaun in sight!

With acceptable Irish accents (which easily rolled of their tongues) the cast of Brook Lacy, Daniel Richards, Jaime Sheehan, Mike Sheenhan, Carl Moore, Mechelle Anderson and Mike Harris brought the Gaelic humour to life.

Nijinksy

Choreographed by John Neumeier. The Australian Ballet. State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. Sept 7th - 17th, 2016, then Adelaide Oct 14th-19th and Sydney November 11th-28th.

There cannot be any lover of ballet who doesn’t know the name of Nijinsky - the first great male dancer in the Ballet world, a tragic genius who changed the world of dance as we know it. Without Vaslav Nijinsky there would have been no Nureyev, no Barishnikov, no Vasiliev and certainly no Merce Cunningham … and Ballet would have remained dominated by ballerinas.

Catch Me If You Can The Musical

Book by Terrance McNally. Lyrics by Marc Shaiman. Music by Scott Whittman and Marc Shaiman. OCPAC. Director/Choreographer: Sam Hooper. Musical Director: Dave Barclay. MGH, Carey Baptist Grammar School, Kew, Victoria. September 10 – 17, 2016.

This was my second encounter with OCPAC and I was again blown away by the professionalism of the production.

Though I hadn’t seen the film, I was aware of Catch Me If You Can the Musical and pleasantly surprised to see how well it adapted to the stage. The music was strongly influenced by jazz, which was very suitable for the subject matter.

The bare stage had a walkway at the back, allowing for different levels, and various pieces of furniture were moved on and off as appropriate, allowing the action to flow. The lighting was excellent.

Albert Herring

Composer: Benjamin Britten. Librettist: Eric Crozier. Director: Bruce Beresford. Presented by Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University and Brisbane Festival. 9-17 September 2016

Britten wrote this opera following the success of his famous Peter Grimes opus, wanting to create a work in direct contrast and with a comical flavour. He chose well because the plot is an entertainment in itself and is a fitting playground for a variety of interesting characters. With an inventive, contemporary score written at the height of his powers it provides a demanding and yet commanding platform for opera students and staff to tackle while in itself being respected by academics and those who work in the industry.

The Faithful Servant

By Tom Davis. Directed by Caroline Stacey. Produced by The Street Theatre. Childers Street, Canberra. 7 – 18 September 2016. World Premiere.

Tom Davis’s The Faithful Servant is a beautifully crafted, thrilling play, with a fascinating story which questions the sometimes ambiguous morality of providing aid in third-world countries. Set over 51 years, the story follows Dr Raymond Gerard (PJ Williams), a surgeon who single-handedly set up a hospital in Mozambique and an aid organisation with the wonderfully vague name Australians for Hope. Gerard has complex and shifting relationships with his adopted Mozambiquean daughter Caroline and his second-in-charge, Mozambique native Coetano Perreira (Dorian Nkono).

My Fair Lady

By Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. John Frost / Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Opening Night – September 6, 2017.

Slip into your seats in Sydney Opera House’s Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre, as producers John Frost and Opera Australia throw the switch on their theatrical time capsule, transporting us to 1956, the height of Broadway’s Golden Age of Musical Theatre.

My Fair Lady’s overture, encapsulating Frederick Loewe’s timeless score, is delivered in all its glory by a lavish 32 piece orchestra, the likes of which you haven’t heard from a musical theatre pit in years, lifting spirits from its opening strains.

You Got Older

By Clare Barron. Directed by Brett Cousins. Red Stitch Theatre (Vic). 31st August - 2nd October, 2016.

Red Stitch’s strength as a company is finding interesting plays never seen on our shores and presenting them impeccably. Clare Barron’s You Got Older is one such play and her strength as a playwright is a deliciously left of centre view of the world, and family in particular. It may be offbeat, but it’s always truthful. Barron just sees the world through different eyes – eyes that don’t look back, or even forward, but are strongly rooted in NOW…the moment.

Miss Brontë

By Mel Dodge and Charlotte Bronte. Brave Theatre, directed by Lyndee-Jane Rutherford. The Q, Queanbeyan. September 8 - 10, 2016

The literary output of the three Brontë sisters paints a varied picture of the inescapable confines of genteel rural poverty.  The authors well knew such poverty and its limitations on opportunity, and well knew too that marriage was the key to escaping it permanently, and that imagination was the key to doing so daily.  Mel Dodge’s script, featuring Charlotte Brontë’s words from letters and conversation, has Charlotte speak of their lives in detail, and particularly of their writing habits and of Charlotte’s abiding but doomed love.

Oriel

By Merrilee Moss. Directed by Kim Durban. Ghost Ensemble at La Mama Courthouse. 7 – 18 September 2016.

Many people will have forgotten or have never heard of Oriel Gray (1920 – 2003), the prolific playwright for the left-wing New Theatre and for radio station 2KY, all the way through to the ABCTV’s Bellbird.  Playwright Merrilee Moss wants us to leave the theatre asking, ‘Who is Oriel Gray – and why haven’t I heard of her before?’  I’d say she succeeds.

Blackbird

By David Harrower. Throwing Shade Theatre Company / Sydney Fringe. Off-Broadway Hub, Gehrig Lane, Annandale. September 6 – 10, 2016

A jewel of a two-hander, Blackbird by Scotland’s David Harrower made its mark around the world after its debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 2005.  It’s a revelatory showdown between Una and Ray.  She has tracked him down fifteen years after their brief relationship, back when he was 40 and she just 12 years old. 

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.