Reviews

Jane Austen is Dead ...See You At the Wake

Written, devised and performed by Letita Sutherland and Mel Dodge. Melbourne Fringe Festival. Gertrude’s Brown Couch. Sept 21 to Oct 9, 2011.

Performers Mel Dodge and Letita Sutherland have created a sassy, fun double-bill for the Melbourne Fringe that showcases their versatility.

Aspects of Love

By Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Charles Hart. CLOC Musical Theatre. National Theatre, St Kilda. September 23 to October 8, 2011.

Given I had a minimal knowledge of Aspects of Love, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this production was such that I was totally engaged from beginning to end; both with the quality of the performers' acting, and to their singing of the Lloyd Webber songs under the musical direction of Andrew Houston.

No Man’s Land

By Harold Pinter. QTC and STC Co-production. Bille Brown Studio, Brisbane. 19 September-22 October, 2011.

Actors who have played Pinter will tell you his scripts are devilishly difficult to understand, and hard to memorise, if a director expects that of you pre-rehearsals.

But the moment you spark off each other in rehearsals you discover connections, meanings, subtleties, which flow together in Pinter’s amazing verbal landscape.

The Mikado

By Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert. Savoyards @ Iona Performing Arts Centre, Wynnum, Brisbane. Director: Eric Hauff. Musical Director: Steven McKay. Choreographer: Lynne Swain. 24 September – October 8, 2011.

Savoyards first produced The Mikado on 2 November 1961. It was their inaugural production, so what better way to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary than to revive Gilbert and Sullivan’s most popular comic opera.

This straight-forward traditional production, complete with bits of pantomime and burlesque, was in the capable directing hands of Eric Hauff, who certainly knows his way around the G&S canon.

The Boy From Oz

Music and Lyrics by Peter Allen, book by Nick Enright. Director: Tom Sweeney. Willoughby Theatre Company. Concourse Theatre, Chatswood (NSW). September 23 – Octiober 1, 2011.

Bumping in a big show can be harrowing, but what about bumping in a whole theatre? The Willoughby Theatre Company had that mountain to climb by staging The Boy From Oz, the first ever production in the magnificent 500 seat tiered Concourse Theatre in Chatswood.

Appalling Behaviour

Written and performed by Stephen House. Directed by Justin McGuinness. La Mama, as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Sept 21 to Oct 2, 2011

In Appalling Behaviour, performer Stephen House conjures a whole world of dirty laneways, windowless rooms, frenetic nightclubs and lost souls with little more than his voice and body. He has a black curtain behind him, a few blocks for props and minimal lighting. It is all House needs.

Ethel Chop & Chums

The Dog Theatre / Melbourne Fringe Festival. Footscray Town Hall. 21 September – 8 October, 2011.

For ridiculously funny and superbly consistent character based comedy at this year’s ‘Fringe’ you would be hard pushed to beat Ethel Chop & Chums.

A Chorus Line

By Marvin Hamlisch, Edward Kleban, James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. September 21 – 25, 2011.

First impression as I settle into my seat is the audience reflected in the upstage wall of mirrors on the empty stage, enforcing the allegory of A Chorus Line. This is a show about everyone’s dreams, not just a group of dancers auditioning for eight places in a musical theatre chorus.

That said, it is, of course, the ultimate backstage dance musical.

 

Can an amateur cast meet the challenges of A Chorus Line?

Clybourne Park

By Bruce Norris. Melbourne Theatre Company, Victoria. MTC Theatre - Sumner, Southbank Boulevard, Melbourne. Director: Peter Evans. Set and Costume Design: Christina Smith. Lighting Designer: Matt Scott. Composer: Jethro Woodward. Sound Design: Martin Kay. 17 September – 22 October, 2011.

Sure, Clybourne Park is a play about race, and how little we have travelled since the 1950s, but it also offers insight into humanity’s territorialism, and the lengths we will go to protect our patch.

John and Jen

By Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald. Sidetrack Theatre. Sydney Fringe. September 20 – 24, 2011.

Got an embarrassing sibling, or a soccer (baseball) mum?

Someone you just love to hate?

You’ll find plenty to identify with.

John and Jenis an affecting two-hander musical following the story of Jen (Naomi Livingston), and her relationship with the two Johns in her life, her brother, subsequently killed in Vietnam, and her son (Edward Grey). At the core is the guilt Jen carries at going to college, leaving her brother in an abusive home.

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