Reviews

Measure For Measure

Written by William Shakespeare. Adapted & Directed by Benedict Andrews. Company B Belvoir, Sydney. Set: Ralph Myers. Lighting: Nick Schlieper. Music/Sound: Stefan Gregory. Video: Sean Bacon. June 5 – July 25.

Shakespeare’s late ‘problem comedy’ gets a rare airing at the Belvoir in a full-on, jaw-dropping production by rising ringmaster Benedict Andrews. Well, my jaw dropped several times in the course of an unsettling and challenging evening.

A Lobster Tale

Written and directed by Stephan Jean De Jonghe KADS Theatre, Kalamunda, WA, World Premiere. May 12 – June 5.

Local writer and director Stephan Jean De Jonghe’s latest play is an adaptation of a play in which Stephan made his acting debut – Lovelife of a Crayfish by John Gill. It is clear that Stephan has great affection for the story in this gently told play. A sweet and moving story, it held the audience well, but like its predecessor at KADS this year, it would have made a superb One Act, rather than a “nice” full-length show.

Dusty - The Original Pop Diva

By John-Michael Howson, David Mitchell and Melvyn Morrow Bankstown Theatrical Society (NSW). May 29 to June 5.

Twenty-year-old Amy Toledano might have been channeling Dusty Springfield in her impressive performance in the title role of Bankstown Theatrical Society’s production of Dusty.

Splendid choreography, wigs and frocks also helped evoke the diva, as well as the 60s and subsequent decades in a big way. Musical Director Greg Crease’s impressive orchestra completed the illusion from the first notes of the overture.

Oresteia

Adapted by Tom Wright from the classic plays by Aeschylus. Sydney Theatre Company. Until July 4.

If you enjoy well-written updates of Greek mythology then Oresteia will both intrigue and entertain you. I was reminded very much by this production of the wit and clarity of recently released novels by Lindsay Clarke, which interpret the myths through modern eyes.

Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn

Stella Green Productions and Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Director: Byron Kaye. Darlinghurst Theatre, Potts Point. May 27 – June 27

This jolly farce written in 1975 by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn follows four married couples over one long night and the intertwining machinations of their interconnected relationships. This production opens with three ready-made beds onstage and shows three of the four couples getting ready for the evening's events. The catalyst that sets up the play for the entirety of the following chain of events is when Susannah, Trevor's wife, springs him passionately kissing his ex girlfriend, Jan.

The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl

Black Swan State Theatre Company and Queensland Theatre Company at the Playhouse, Perth (WA). Director: Kate Cherry. 29 May – 19 June

Set in the sterile white house of successful doctor Lane, we meet Matilde, a Brazilian maid, who is in mourning for her parents who died laughing. Cleaning depresses Matilde, who would rather use her time to invent the world’s funniest joke. Fortunately Lane’s sister Virginia loves to clean and secretly takes over Matilde’s job.

42ND STREET

Music: Harry Warren. Lyrics: Al Dubin. Savoyards @ Iona Performing Arts Centre (Qld). Director/Choreographer: Sue Harvey. Music Director: Geoffrey Secomb. June 5 to 19.

42nd Street is the quintessential backstage story; when the leading lady breaks her leg, a chorine replaces her and becomes a star. Based on the 1933 Warner Bros movie, the original stage production had a nine year Broadway run and was a tap-dancing extravaganza. Savoyards production gets an A in almost every department; a cast of fifty, splashy costumes, a set of top-rate principals, and a dazzling tap-dancing chorus of eighteen. Best performance was by Brad Rush as the show’s producer Julian Marsh. He was assured, totally believable, and sang well.

Daisy Pulls It Off by Denise Degan

Atherton Performing Arts (Qld). Director: Lillian Field. May 28 – June 5.

Daisy Pulls It Off is a fast-paced production about schoolgirl innocence. The heroine of the story is Daisy Meredith, played with conviction by Bridie Rawlins, who arrives at snobby Grangewood College on a scholarship. Daisy immediately attracts enemies in Sybil (Natalie Day) and Monica (Stephanie Lambourne). She also recruits a good friend in Trixie (Sarah Broomhall). The two then overcome many obstacles in their quest to find acceptance.

Fat Pig by Neil laBute

QTC. Bille Brown Studio (Qld). May 31 to June 26

This play seduced me despite my reservations about the title. I am over political correctness and our obsession with body image. The title offended me. Jibes about the overweight character were there, derogatory and vicious, but directed mostly to the likeable young man who was attracted to her. Fat Pig is actually a brilliant examination of real situations involving real people. Brilliant writing, Mr laBute!

House on Fire by Debra Oswald

Australian Theatre For Young People. Director: Jo Turner. ATYP Studio 1, The Wharf. (NSW) June 3 – 13.

This charming little play was commissioned by SCEGGS - a private school in Sydney's Eastern sSuburbs with a brief no doubt for a contemporary piece of drama, with humour and lots of parts for girls. Debra Oswald has fulfilled this brief with flying colours. The Australian Theatre for Young People production was a treat to watch, except for the occasional difficulty in hearing some of the more softly spoken characters. The narrator is India, who is the bright as a spark neighbour of the Conway sisters, played very sharply by Nathalie Fenwick.

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