Reviews

High Performance Packing Tape

Sydney Opera House presents a Branch Nebula production. Studio Theatre, Sydney Opera House. 17 – 22 September 2019

Be prepared: there are no numbered seats, so when the audience is allowed into the Studio Theatre (after queuing for 15 minutes past the advertised start time) there’s a scramble for seating. There’s also no program, so I have only the Opera House’s What's On Guide to tell me that it’s Lee Wilson who is flat on his back blowing up a big balloon.

Broken River

By Tony Reck. Directed by Richard Murphet. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton. 12 -22 September 2019

It begins in traditional style: in the dead of night, two men – brothers - carry an eviscerated corpse wrapped in black plastic.  Their mother has ordered them to dump it in a mine shaft.  They don’t; they bury it in a shallow hole at Broken River.  We know the body will be found and somebody, besides this pair, will be in big trouble… 

Norma

By Vincenzo Bellini. Melbourne Opera. Directed by Suzanne Chaundy. The Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne. September 17 – 24, 2019.

In customarily self-assured style, Melbourne Opera opened Norma to cheering applause last Tuesday. The tale of a love triangle about to go murderously wrong, Norma is the pinnacle of the bel canto repertoire from arguably its greatest exponent – Vincenzo Bellini. In the legendarily difficult title role, Helena Dix sweeps all before her with a voice not unlike raw honey.

The Living Room

By Amrita Dhaliwal & Gemma Soldati. Dhali Dati. Melbourne Fringe Festival at The Butterfly Club. September 16 – 22, 2019

Death is an inevitable part of life, and so why not create a hilarious funny hour around this morbid subject. Direct from Los Angeles Fringe festival, Amnita Dhaliwal and  Gemma Soldati  are here to perform The Living Room - A Comedy of Grief. The show is set around a bunch rules that remind us that we can laugh at our own mortality and mourn the passing of others.

Two Canaries

By Alexa Taylor, with Jess Nyanda Moyle and Zoe Street. Directed by Alexa Taylor. The Blue Room Studio, James St, Northbridge. Sep 10 - 28, 2019

A canary in a coal mine is an advanced warning of some danger. Two Canaries, currently playing at the Blue Room, is a gentle but passionate call to action about climate change, as we are reminded about the real and imminent danger faced by the world.

Quite Drunk, Very Jesus-y

By Grace De Morgan. Key Conspirators & North of Eight. Melbourne Fringe Festival. New Council Chambers, Trades Hall. 13 - 22 September 2019

It’s unusual to find a Fringe show that is a full-length (well, 90 minutes) and well-made play with an appealing and talented cast of five and directed by a fully professional and accomplished director.  From the title, you’d guess this was something else.  I did.  What a pleasant surprise.  The spirit of Alan Ayckbourn hovers over Quite Drunk, Very Jesus-y – and that is no bad thing.  An ensemble of ‘ordinary’ people who are or were practicing Christians and who think they know each other turn out not to.

Daring Dog Monologues

Melbourne Writers’ Theatre. Gasworks Arts Park. 12 to 21, September 2019.

Directed by Elizabeth Walley with great precision and attention to detail, and as usual ending on a high, Daring Dog Monologues is comprised of six adeptly rendered monologues and is an excellent night of theatre of the intimate variety.

The Beautiful Game

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book and lyrics by Ben Elton. Manilla Street Productions. Directed by Karen Jemison. Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran.13-29 September, 2019

Revisiting the troubles in Northern Ireland via the musical The Beautiful Game is a timely choice given the volatile and fragile nature of the peace agreement, especially due to Brexit. This production is a moving reminder of the horrific realities this political conflict produced and the lives it has wasted. John (Stephen Mahy) and Mary (Stephanie Wall) are played with a child-like innocence which contrasts well with the transformation into hardened adults that they make throughout the show.

I’m a Phoenix, Bitch

Created & performed by Bryony Kimmings. Melbourne Fringe Festival. Arts Centre Melbourne, The Fairfax. 11 – 15 September 2019.

The Phoenix rises from the ashes - from the ashes of the worst time in Bryony Kimmings' life in this her first show for ten years.  She presents her experiences of this almost unimaginably bad time in a highly original multi-media, multi-platform one woman show.  It was for her a time of near fatal, crippling post-natal depression, madness and paranoia.  Her son – her first child – was and is severely disabled.  She broke up with the boy’s father (well, he abandoned her) and she almost wilfully drowned.

In The Heights

By Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes. Pelican ProductionsArts Theatre, Adelaide. 14-21 September, 2019

In the Heights won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical. It is a high-octane musical set within a Latino community in Washington Heights, New York.

Over one long hot summer in which electricity black-outs are the norm, the drama focuses on the respective stories of three families who live and work within this community.

Each story is inter-linked, not only because of the respective family business on this particular street in Washington Heights, but also through a narrator-figure, Usnavi, played with great charm in this production by Joshua Angeles.

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