Reviews

The Dollhouse (adapted from the play by Henrick Ibsen)

Melbourne Fringe Festival, Victoria. Foryfive downstairs, Flinders Lane, Melbourne. Director Daniel Schlusser. Producer Sarah Ernst. Set Design Jeminah Reidy. Sound Design Martin Kay. 8pm Sept 14-17, 20-24, 4pm Sept 18 & 25, 2011

Despite post-feminism, society’s patriarchal structure, as illustrated in The Dollhouse, continues to manipulate and control the lives of women, and particularly mothers. Reset in contemporary culture, this is a ‘hyper-realist’ rethink of Henrick Ibsen’s 19th century play, with shades of reality-tv influenced voyeurism.

Nunsensations! The Nunsense Vegas Revue

By Dan Goggin. Engadine Musical Society. Sutherland Memorial School of Arts. September 9 – 18, 2011.

It’s a lot of frivolous fluff and pink feathers.

Nunsense has become quite a franchise. Nunsensations!  is the fifth of six sequels to the original (the second longest running show Off-Broadway, playing 10 years) and there’s another three spin-offs.

West Side Story

Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics). Based on a conception by Jerome Robbins, book by Arthur Laurents. Victorian College of the Arts (graduating students). Space 28, VCA Performing Arts Building. Director: Martin Croft. Musical Director: Stephen Gray. Choreographer: Kelly Aykers. Set Design: David Samuel. Lighting Design: Danny Pettingill. September 8 – 18, 2011.

Attempting Bernstein and Sondheim’s iconic West Side Story is no mean feat, not least because of the intense emotional energy interspersed with gentle pathos, and the demands of musical and dance material.

Victorian College of the Arts’ graduating music theatre students come up trumps in a production marking the culmination of three years of intensive study for cast members.

Avenue Q

By Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty. Brighton Amateur Fisherman’s Association (NSW). September 9 – 17, 2011.

The Show Did Go On!

Imagine this!

About a week prior to opening night you’re locked out of your theatre due to asbestos problems. You’ve bumped in everything except for the sound system, and you aren’t allowed access to get anything out.

This was the problem faced by Rockdale Musical Society’s Avenue Q, when Rockdale Town Hall suddenly became a no-go zone.

The Aliens

By Annie Baker. Red Stitch Actors Theatre. Director: Nadia Tass. Set Design: Benjamin Shaw. Lighting Design: Stelios Karagiannis. Sound Design: Jarrod Factor. August 24 – September 24, 2011.

As the MTC production of Circle Mirror Transformation heralds for Melbourne audiences the significance of American playwright Annie Barker, Red Stitch further affirm her rich nuanced perceptions in its production or her play The Aliens.

The Table of Knowledge

Performer / Devisors: Arky Michael, Jane Phegan, Yana Taylor, Kym Vercoe and David Williams. A Version 1.0 and Merrigong Theatre Company co-production. Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. August 30 - September 20, 2011.

Sex, Lies and Dirty Deals!  A production based on the true story of corruption at Wollongong Council. A cast of only five playing multiple roles captured the essence of a scandal of epic proportions that culminated in the sacking of the whole council in 2006.  No surprise that every performance has enjoyed full houses, with an extra six added to the season due to popular demand. After all, this is their council and these characters were elected officials supposedly representing their interests.

So You Die A Little

By Tony Brockman & Matthew Ryan. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 3 Sept – 1 Oct 2011

Richard Hunt and Gregory Rowbotham’s extraordinary industrial-looking set tickles your funny bone as soon as you enter the theatre and prepares you for the inspired lunacy that’s coming.

This is an early Brockman and Ryan play. It suggests potential that could see them develop into Australia’s equivalent of Ray Cooney & John Chapman if they keep writing.

The Threepenny Opera

By Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Sydney Theatre Company / Malthouse / Victorian Opera.. Director: Michael Kantor. Conductor: Richard Gill. Sydney Theatre. September 3 – 24, 2011.

BRECHT AND CO SHOULD SUE

Phillip Patterson wrote to Stage Whispers after he read David Spicer's review of The Threepenny Opera (which follows).

Medea of Baghdad

By Ali Alizadeh. La Mama Theatre, Carlton. August 31 – September 11, 2011

Playwright Ali Alizadeh’s Medea of Baghdad is a monologue that places the ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides into a modern context. Intriguingly, his Medea (Miranda Nation) is a wide-eyed young Australian university student who falls in love with an Iraqi asylum seeker while he’s in detention. With a setting straight from the front pages of our newspapers, and an ancient myth to refer to, Medea of Baghdad promises fresh insights into an up-to-the-minute contemporary issue.

Transparency

By Suzie Miller. Seymour Centre and Riverside Productions. Seymour Centre, September 1 – 17, 2011; Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, September 20 – 24.

Suzie Miller’s play Transparency is an extraordinarily well written piece of theatre. It is eloquent and sharp, with exceptionally well drawn characters. It has the bravery to deal with the deeply terrifying yet fascinating subject of the rehabilitation of violent juvenile offenders and their reintroduction back into society as adults.

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