Reviews

Cafe Rebetika

Conceived and Directed by Stephen Helper. Co-Writer Choreographer: Thomas Papathanassiou. Set Design: Bill Buckley. Costume Designer: Adrienne Chisholm. Lighting Designer: Nigel Levings. Associate Lighting: Designer: Richard Vabre. Live music by Rebetiki. Musical Director – Yiangoullis Achilles and Musicians; Tony Iliou, Takis Dimitru, Argyris Argyropoulis and Paddy Montgomery. The Arts Centre, Playhouse. 3 – 13 November, 2011.

Cafe Rebetika is a contemporary Australian musical with a huge heart that was inspired by a fascinating time and place in Greek history. With the support of the Arts Centre it has been honed, through its development, with great integrity and sensitivity to a point where it should ‘take off’.  What it most needs at the moment is for Melbourne’s Greek audiences to fill the houses and bring with them as much love, tenderness and understanding as the piece itself has been melded with.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

By Edward Albee. Repertory Theatre (Christchurch, NZ). Director: Elsie Edgerton-Till. Elmwood Auditorium. 2-8 November 2011.

You can take the Society out of the theatre, it seems, but no way is the theatre urge leaving the Society. This fascinatingly nasty play hit the stage very early in the distinguished playwright's career, but its indelible insights and linguistic flair marked it for classic status from the beginning, in spite of its shocking ways. As such, it fits well within Canterbury Repertory Society's focus and the production at Elmwood is well up to the high standards maintained with such passion in the Old Girl of Kilmore Street.

Tracey Harvey Smokin’ at The Paris Cat

Paris Cat Jazz Club, Melbourne (Vic).

The venue is charming but tiny – the postage stamp stage is barely large enough for the grand piano, let alone Tracy Harvey’s glorious and infamous teeth (which, she assures us, are insured). Nevertheless the room is packed, and there’s a smattering of celebrities present (Tony Ayres, Producer/Director of The Slap is stage side) and there’s definitely electricity, of the Energiser Bunny variety, in the air.

The Cemetery Club

By Ivan Menchell. Therry Dramatic Society (SA). Arts Theatre. November 2 – 12, 2011.

Don’t let the title put you off. This play by American Ivan Menchell was made into a lively movie in 1993 and director Loriel Smart has assembled a highly talented and experienced cast for your theatrical pleasure.

Striptease and Out at Sea

Urban Myth Theatre of Youth (SA). Goodwood Institute Theatre. November 2 – 5, 2011

Striptease and Out at Sea are two absurdist one-act plays by Polish playwright Slawomir Mrozek, and they make a striking but challenging double bill.

The Wild Women of Comedy

Ciel Stowe, Sarah Levett, Amanda Gray and Bev Killick. Paddington RSL NSW, 14-15 October 2011, then on national tour

Holding the Man

By Tommy Murphy, from Tim Conigrave's memoir. State Theatre Company of South Australia. Dunstan Playhouse. 21 Oct to 13 Nov, 2011

Tommy Murphy’s Holding the Man adaptation has all the elements of great theatre: a contemporary issue, a powerful message and an ensemble.

In 1995, shortly after he died, Timothy Conigrave’s memoir was published, telling of his lifelong love with high school football captain, John Caleo.

Conigrave wrote like a playwright: lots of dialogue making it easy to read and the story itself was powerful. Those elements combined to make it a bestseller and a classic Australian love story – people dubbed it gay Mills & Boon.

The Love of the Nightingale

By Richard Mills. Libretto by Timberlake Wertenbaker. Opera Australia. Conductor: Richard Mills. Director: Tama Matheson. Set and Projection Designer: Dan Potra. Original Costume Designer: Kate Hawley. Lighting Designer: Nigel Levings. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House NSW. 21 October – 1 November 2011.

The Gods must be crazy!

First performed in Perth in 2007, this newish Australian opera opened in Sydney on October 21st 2011.

The synopsis by composer Richard Mills reads: The Love of the Nightingale is a myth about men and women, and explores the condition and experience of women in an oppressive patriarchy. Through a crucible of suffering the mythological moment of metamorphosis is achieved, and the play finds its moral resolution in the freedom of uninhibited inquiry. Not a lite night. But does Nightingale deliver on this promise?

A Stranger in Town.

Written by Christine Croyden. Directed and designed by Alice Bishop. Inspired by the original musical diary of Otto Lampel. Original score and musical direction by Matt Lotherington. Lighting design by Richard Vabre. With Amanda LaBonte, Sophie Lampel, Jamie McDonald and Drew Tingwell. Presented by Essential Theatre. fortyfive downstairs, Melbourne. 27 October to 13 November, 2011.

Precious memories are at play in this eloquent and involving memory play – imaginatively, impeccably, lovingly, and often quite beautifully, delivered to the stage by Ms Bishop and performed by a uniformly excellent cast, who handle their challenging multiple roles with pure theatrical instinct and immense skill.

A New Brain

Music and lyrics by William Finn, with a book by Finn and James Lapine. Squabbalogic. Sidetrack Theatre. October 26 to November 12, 2011.

Want to be thoroughly entertained and moved by a well-produced, off-beat, quirky little musical?

A New Brain is just the thing!

Who writes a vaudeville-styled, through-sung musical about a songwriter suffering from arteriovenous malformation (a potentially fatal brain disorder) and the subsequent life-threatening surgery and coma, making it entertaining to boot?

The songwriter who lived through it!

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