Reviews

Love and Information

By Caryl Churchill. Metro Arts Theatre, Brisbane. 31 July to 10 August, 2019

Love and Information is a miscellany of short scenes – some micro – in seven mini acts. The scenarios place hundreds of characters in a mix of bland, random and extraordinary situations. Some of the scenes play as overheard conversations or real events reinterpreted. Some are Soap-ish; some are surreal. It feels pixelated, and technology features in many scenes (the classic: the couple at a restaurant scrolling through their social media feed) so there’s much for audiences to relate to in the grabs and glimpses of modern life.

Pilgrims

By Claire Kiechel. Oily Rag Theatre. The Bakehouse, Adelaide. August 2 – 10, 2019

Pilgrim – ‘a person who makes a journey, often a long and difficult one, to a special place for religious reasons’. This is the accepted meaning of the word but it can also mean a wanderer or wayfarer. In the case of the play Pilgrims, presented by the Oily Rag Theatre Company, it refers to a soldier and a teenager quarantined together in a cabin on a spaceship travelling to a newly discovered planet, seemingly to begin new lives.

Higher and Higher Revival

Conceived, Directed and Co-Choreographed by Jamie Watt, Kellie Niebling and Lauren Wormald. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast, August 2nd – 24th, 2019.

Spotlight Theatre has revived a popular “juke box” musical from 2016 with great success. 

It is a musical tribute to Motown during that great period in the 60’s and 70’s, featuring over 50 tunes.

The pace is fast and furious with the six dancers hardly off stage and whipping up a nonstop whirlwind of energy.

Mamma Mia!

Music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Kristian Ulvaeus. Book by Catherine Johnson Packemin Productions. Directed by Jordan Vassallo and Jessica Fallico. Musical Director: Peter Hayward. Choreography: Sally Dashwood. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. August 2 – 17, 2019

Any jaded feeling of “Mamma Mia! Here we go again” was immediately swept away by this high energy production with a cracking cast, that had people whispering in the foyer that they enjoyed it more than the recent professional season.

City of Gold

By Meyne Wyatt. Griffin Theatre Company and Queensland Theatre. Director: Isaac Drandic. SBW Stables Theatre, Sydney. 26 July – 31 August 2019

With this production in the heart of Sydney, and the Currency Press edition of the play (his first) issued with the Griffin Theatre program, Meyne Wyatt can be said to have arrived as a playwright, and then some. Brilliantly funny and shockingly direct, his play reverberates with rage and grief as young indigenous actor Breythe Black returns to his home in the City of Gold, Kalgoorlie, to bury his father who has died of throat cancer. Lost in a fog of regret, not knowing which way to turn, Breythe reconnects with his brother, sister and cousin. And the city of inequality that made him.

Grace

By Craig Wright. Minola Theatre. Ron Hurley Theatre, Brisbane – 1 to 4 August, 2019

Grace is about the ‘grace of God’ – the undeserved help that God offers those with blind belief. It is about characters with spiritual need and a faith in fate that seeks signs to help steer their life’s direction. Butwhat happens when that gets skewed – the faithful lose faith and the cynical find hope?

Ghosts

By Henrik Ibsen. The Curators independent theatre company. Adapted and directed by Michael Beh. The Curators Vintage Pop Up Theatre, 28 St Barnabas Place, Red Hill. July 19-August 4, 2019

The Curators independent theatre company began in Brisbane two years ago and this their fourth play is a mythical masterpiece.

Director Michael Beh has been working towards his adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts for the better part of 25 years.

He ekes out the realism, symbolism and theatricality of Ibsen’s work and traps all these elements in the pressure-cooker environment of a small pop up theatre off Waterworks Rd at Red Hill.

Table

By Tanya Ronder. White Box Theatre & Seymour Centre. Reginald Theatre, The Seymour Centre, Sydney. Director: Kim Hardwick. 26 July – 17 August 2019

Craftsman David Best married Elisabeth Maud late in 19th century England and, to celebrate, he made her a fine dining table. And in this play by British writer Tanya Ronder we watch as six generations of the Best family gather round the table — sometimes on it, sometimes under it, sometimes laid out dead upon it — in rural Lichfield, in Tanganyika, back in a hippie commune in England, and finally in London.

Les Misérables

Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Original French text byAlain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel. Holiday Actors and Warrnambool Theatre Company. Director: Cindy Lee Morgan. Musical Director: Sonia Beal. Vocal Director: Elana Agnew. Choreographer: Amelie Gleeson. Lighthouse Theatre, Warrnambool. July 20-27, 2019

I have never felt such a buzz at any theatrical event, amateur or professional. Tickets for Les Misérables presented at the Lighthouse Theatre Warrnambool sold quickly for a six performance season. This final night crowd was anticipating big things from Holiday Actors and Warrnambool Theatre Company’s first collaboration.

The Specialists

Written and performed by Michael Sams. Empire Theatre, North Australian Festival of the Arts, Townsville. 25 - 28 July. 2019.

It is a testament to the professionalism of actor/writer Michael Sams that he managed to overcome enormous odds to perform four different pieces in this self-written presentation.

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