Reviews

Peter Brook’s 11 and 12

Theatre des Bouffes du Nord. Sydney Theatre. Until June 13.

The full stage of the Sydney Theatre. A large orange rug. A small patch of sand. Two stylised tree trunks on wheels, three stumps and a few branches. And downstage left, a variety of instruments. In essence, a Brook stage. In 11 and 12, Peter Brook has used this simple but evocative setting to take the story of Tierno Bokar – a Sufi master from a small African community – to the world. And fortunately, to Sydney, the only city in Australia where it will be performed.

King Lear by William Shakespeare.

Bell Shakespeare. Directed by Marion Potts, Designer Dale Ferguson, Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper, Composer/Musician Bree van Reyk, Sound Designer Stefan Gregory. The Playhouse, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, then His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth from 18 June.

Poor Shakespeare. His works have been trussed up, borrowed, abused, paraded as ‘chocolate box confection’ and shoe-horned into any and every possible ‘modern dress’ incarnation at the whim of directors the world over.

Such is Life – An Evening of One Act Plays.

A Change of Heart by Colleen Soper, The Hitch Hiker by Lucille Fletcher and Asylum by Alec Baron. The Henry Lawson Theatre, Werrington (NSW). May 14 - June 4.

The Henry Lawson Theatre’s foyer has the feel of a bygone suburban cinema in miniature. The illusion continues as the lights go down in the auditorium of the intimate playhouse at Werrington in Sydney’s west. Impressively produced previews of future productions are screened before the live performance begins.

It’s a remarkable transformation of the tin-roofed shed I last visited about 20 years ago.

The latest attraction is a trio of short plays including a locally written play, a staging of a radio play and a moving post-holocaust drama.

The Laughter Subsides

Tap Gallery (NSW). Director/ writer: Sam Basger. Mural design: Justin Feuerring

This piece opens with a couple sitting upside-down on chairs at the dinner table. Perhaps this is what the through-line is, that this couple see things from a warped perspective or they’re so bored and uninventive in their lives and their marriage that they’ve gone topsy-turvy. The script by writer/director Sam Basger showed promise with some terrific one-liners and innovative ideas, but I wondered what the objective was. It didn’t seem to be driving us anywhere.

Half A Person: My Life as Told by The Smiths

By Alex Broun. Fly-On-The-Wall Theatre. Chapel off Chapel, Prahran. RETURN SEASON. AUGUST 4 - 15

Half A Person, written by Alex Broun, is the 110-minute story of William’s life, performed solely by Mark Taylor. If the length of the show wasn’t amazing enough, Taylor also had to stop and sing The Smiths songs throughout the show.

Silence by Hoa Pham

La Mama Courthouse, Carlton (Vic). Until June 6.

Silence demonstrates the power of faith, family and memory through the story of three Vietnamese/Australian women and was written by Vietnamese author and psychologist Hoa Pham (http://www.hoapham.net).

Burnt by Stefo Nantson and Tom Lycos.

ZEAL Theatre and STC ED. Wharf 2 Theatre, Sydney and touring.

Country high school students helped Zeal Theatre develop Burnt, a touring storytelling play about the impact of drought, commissioned by the Sydney Theatre Company. Zeal’s three performers deftly switch between a whole community of characters to tell a story of country teenagers, their parents, friends and community, under stress. Despite this dark theme, it’s mostly quite a lively romp.

Tempest by William Shakespeare

Mixed Salad Productions. Director: Sally Putnam. Star Theatre One. (S.A.). Until 5 June.

The opening to this version of Tempest takes place before the first flash of strobe lighting and long-delayed crack of thunder. Director Sally Putnam visited Bali last year and her travels got her thinking about interpreting Tempest. The original was set somewhere in the 'New World'. Why not make that new world look a lot like Bali?

Speaking in Tongues by Andrew Bovell

Pymble Players. Director: Racquel Boyd. May 5 - 29.

Speaking in Tongues is a tricky piece of theatre by anyone's standards. Four actors (Bobby Babbin, Glenn Hermann, Judy Jankovics and Vanessa Merewether) play four characters (two married couples) in the first act, and then portray five entirely different characters in the second act, with only one character from Act One returning in the second half. Act One consists of several distinct chapters, while Act Two is basically a re-enactment of the two stories which were related in two monologues delivered by two characters in Act One.

Curtains

By Rupert Holmes, John Kander and Fred Ebb (original book and concept Peter Stone). Hornsby Musical Society. Hornsby RSL Club. May 20 to 29.

Curtains is an odd coda to the great Kander and Ebb partnership, usually far grittier in choice of themes (Cabaret and Chicago) than this musical comedy and Agatha Christie whodunit spoof. It’s a show that lost not one, but two original creatives, in lyricist Fred Ebb and librettist Peter Stone, over its 10 year development.

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