Reviews

Speaking in Tongues

By Andrew Bovell. State Theatre Company (SA). Dunstan Playhouse. Director: Geordie Brookman. Designer: Victoria Lamb. 2 July - 24 July, 2011

Speaking in Tongues is emotional complexity piled on many-faceted soul-baring. It’s a mystery that is as much emotional as it is rational.

In the opening scene, the four characters of the first act navigate their way through working out if they have the gumption to commit adultery.

Bugsy Malone

By Paul Williams and Alan Parker. Gosford Musical Society Juniors. Laycock Theatre, Gosford (NSW). Director: Melinda Middleton. Musical Director: Ben Ross. Choreographer: Jess Hind. 5-9 July, 2011

School holiday productions by the Gosford Musical Society Juniors are proving very reliable entertainment. This time it’s the stage version of Bugsy Malone, and the 50+ cast give a full blast of commitment and energy.

Capriccio

Produced by Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Music by Richard Strauss. Libretto by Clemens Krauss and Richard Strauss. Director, John Cox. Conductor, Nicholas Braithwaite. Designer, John Stoddart. July 2 – 27.

The great German composer Richard Strauss wrote many great operas, including Salome and Der Rosenkavalier,  plus the mighty tone poem Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which was to become the theme to 2001, A Space Odyssey.  In 1942, in his late 70s, his last opera Capriccio was written under the suspicious eyes of the Nazis. They needn’t have worried: this ‘conversation piece in one act’ exclusively asks “what matters most in opera — the music or the words?”

Stainless Steel Rat

A Wikiplay by Ron Elisha. Wayne Harrison's Cheep. Seymour Centre (NSW) June 28 - July 17, 2011

Like Julian Assange the play about him is both clever and flawed. Stainless Steel Rat is an attempt to dispel the mystery surrounding the man behind Wikileaks, explore what really motivates him and analyse how the global political machine has been shaken by a “bogan with modem” or a mad rooter with a penchant for flipping the bird at the establishment and really what could possibly be more Australian than that? It’s the perfect premise for a play and quite frankly should be a slam-dunk given the rich tapestry that playwright Ron Elisha had at his disposal.

Innocence

By Dea Loher. Accidental Productions (SA). The Bakehouse Theatre. Director: Joh Har-tog. Set & Costume Design: Casey van Sebille. July 1 − 16, 2011.

Innocence takes its audience on a journey similar to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road: a dystopic, amoral world that nonetheless inspires hope.

In his director’s note, Joh Hartog writes that “just like a really good piece of music, [Innocence] cannot be caught by a short description in the program.”

Nonetheless, us reviewers attempt just that: Innocence brings together a collection of outrageously idiosyncratic characters, draws blood from them, and then lets them at each other like sharks in a frenzy.

Sherlock Holmes and the First English Gentleman

By Doug Warwick. KADS Theatre (WA). Director Tim Edwards. May 6-28, 2011.

This Sherlock Holmes play, penned by a keen Canadian fan, appears designed for touring, with its cast of three playing multiple characters. Well produced by Blak Yak in conjunction with KADS, it provided a pleasant evening’s entertainment.

Her Holiness

By Justin Fleming and Melvyn Morrow. Kalamunda Performing Arts Centre. Director: John Senczuk. April 19, 2011.

When director John Senczuk chanced to meet Sister Pauline Morgan of the Sisters of St Joseph in WA, she lamented that Perth had not publicly celebrated the canonization of St Mary McKillop.

Recalling the Her Holiness, which he had designed, Senczuk decided to mount the production.

The short multi-venue tour ran over Holy Week, and it was surprising that this well-constructed play was not playing to capacity crowds and that it wasn’t compulsory viewing for Religious Education students.

Crimes of the Heart

By Beth Henley. Roy Edinger Theatre (WA). Director: Susan Lynch. May 6 – 21, 2011.

In her director’s notes, Melville Theatre’s Susan Lynch discusses that this is a difficult play to pin down to a single genre, eventually describing it as a good story. Indeed, with her cast, she does a good job of storytelling.

Set in a languid Mississippi fall, the story was relayed at Southern pace at times, but remained intriguing.

Believable sisters were very nicely played by Elethea Sartorelli as ‘old maid’ eldest sister Lenny, Tanya McCall as ‘prodigal sister’ Meg and Bianca Kenna as wayward youngest sibling Babe.

Feedum Fighters

By Dorian Mode. Zenith Theatre and Springboards Performing Arts. Director: Adrian Barnes. Choreographer: Trenton Shipley. Lighting: Michelle Rendell. Set: Simon Greer. June 30-July 3, 2011.

As comedies go, Feedum Fighters couldn’t get much more topical.

Daryl Lucas is a chunky soft drink salesman hailing from the genteel, cultural oasis that is the NSW Central Coast. He’s been abducted by a quirky trio of elite, military-minded personal trainers who plan to torture him with several weeks of extreme dieting.

What follows is a rollicking commentary on our nation’s love affair with exploit-o-porn reality TV – highlighting the ironic dual-success of shows which feature both cooking and dieting.

Jazz Garters III

Canberra Repertory (ACT). Director: Jim McMullen. Theatre 3, Action, 24 June to 9 July, 2011

If there's one predictable constant in Rep's variety shows that has carried over from Music Hall into Jazz Garters, it's the surprise factor.

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