Reviews

Kinky Boots

Book by Harvey Fierstein. Music and Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. Rockdale Musical Society. Directed by Rod Herbert and Carina Herbert. Rockdale Town Hall. September 6 to 14, 2019

The curtain opened to the sight of a highly sophisticated set portraying the factory floor of Price and Sons shoe factory. The hardware was imported from CLOC Musical Theatre in Melbourne, but just as spectacular were the costumes and boots, lovingly sewn together by the volunteers of the Rockdale Musical Society.

The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction

Created, written and directed by Moira Finucane. Co-directed by Jackie Smith, presented by Finucane & Smith, fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 4 – 29 September, 2019.

While The Rupture has not been described as a work of ecofeminism, Chapter II brings Finucane’s work much closer to this realm. Here she makes strong links between patriarchal structures and the threat to the environment. Finucane opens the performance dressed as a fantastical ice queen, typical of her magic realism, and both the feminist and ecological messages are merged. This sequence speaks to the ways in which patriarchal ideology is often self-imposed by women and this is immediately juxtaposed with the destruction of Antarctic glaciers.  

The Woman in the Window

By Alma de Groen.  Canberra Repertory. Directed by Liz Bradshaw.  Theatre 3, 5–21 September 2019. 

The consequence of societal failure to learn the lessons of history underpins this combination of historical and science fiction.  In 1950s Stalinist Russia, innocents are routinely arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned or “disappeared” in ideological pogroms, and the politically suspect poet Anna Akhmatova (a historical poet of the era, played with compelling restraint by Karen Vickery), is obliged to appear at her window at two set times daily to prove that she has not left her flat, which she now shares with Lili (played with great intensity

The Drowsy Chaperone

Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar. Music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. North Shore Theatre Company. Director, Kelly Horrigan. Musical Director, Andrew Beban. Co-choreographers, Olivia Cathro and Cameron Beard. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. September 6 – 15, 2019

Do you ever recognise yourself as you sit watching a musical?

The Cold Record

By Kirk Lynn, directed by Alexandra Bassiakou Shaw. Rude Mechs, Brisbane Festival. Tivoli. 6 to 12 September 2019.

The Cold Record begins as the audience meet at the Tivoli theatre. We are led to a nearby location on King Street where Chicago-born performer, Eli Weinberg, introduces himself and invites us (a small group) to join him for a beer. We take a seat and join him in his alcove – a boombox, a notebook, an iPad full of punk rock tunes, pre-selected (by us, the audience) for discussion. Eli randomly selects tracks and we take it in turns to describe our choice of song and why it means something to us.

The Drawer Boy

By Michael Healey. Directed by Karen Wakeham. Presented by Heidelberg Theatre Company, 36 Turnham Ave, Rosanna. 6th – 21st September, 2019.

This play is a meticulous character study of ordinary individuals whose extraordinary ability to play with the truth unravels in a heart-warming manner. Miles’s (Sam Barson) intrusion into the lives of Angus (John Cheshire) and Morgan (Andrew McAliece) initially appears innocuous. Neither the text nor this production suggests otherwise. The first act reveals little of the huge impact Miles’s presence will ultimately have on their lives.

Minky Opens a Gallery

Written and directed by Joanna Weinberg. Sydney Fringe. Chippen Street Theatre - 45 Chippen St, Chippendale. September 4 – 7, 2019

The ingredients in this one hour play include a large dose of celebrity, several ounces of social media, a healthy portion of satire directed at the art world and a good sprinkle of comedy. Freshly baked and out of the oven for the first time the results are delicious.

The play opens with a succession of paparazzi photos of Minky Westin (Jodine Holli Wolman), looking glamorous, awkwardly leaving various cars or parties and finally arriving on stage worse for wear from a big night out.

The Last Wife

By Kate Hennig. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). August 30 – September 29, 2019.

This contemporary telling of Henry VIII’s sixth, surviving wife, Katherine Parr, requires a vertigo-inducing suspension of belief.

Loosely based on historical fact, Kate Hennig’s family of royal characters – with young Edward, Elizabeth and Mary all waiting to rule after the old king – squabble and banter around Parr in an idiom and modern dress more akin to American TV.  

A Night’s Game

Alleyne Dance. FORM Dance Projects. Riverside Theatres Parramatta. September 5 – 7, 2019.

FORM Dance Projects presents the premiere Australian performance of Alleyne Dance Team’s A Night’s Game at Riverside Theatres. Beginning touring in the UK, Kristina and Sadé Alleyene have taken this dynamic piece of dance theatre to over nine countries. Acclaimed for their eclectic use of styles to create works inspired by true life events, this performance explores dark images that reflect “the turmoil and strife of human emotion when faced with the prospect of incarceration”.

Much Ado About Nothing

By William Shakespeare. Directed by James Evans for Bell Shakespeare. Home Of The Arts, Gold Coast. Sept 4th and 5th, 2017, as part of an extended National Tour.

First let me reiterate how bloody lucky we are to have a National Shakespeare company even if they don’t always get it right. It’s also laudable that their mission is to make Shakespeare more accessible and relevant to a contemporary audience - mostly by putting the plays in contemporary clothes and settings. And here’s the rub (as Bill might have said): pretty much all the comedies by William S are based on star-crossed lovers, mistaken identities, people hiding behind bushes to overhear secrets, lies and conspiracy.

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