Reviews

Rhinoceros

By Eugene Ionesco. heartBeast Theatre, Brisbane. Directed by Steve Pearton. October 13 – 28, 2017

Rhinoceros, written in 1959 by Romanian / Frenchman Eugene Ionesco, illustrates how radical groups such as the Nazis, fascists or communists can come into being and sweep the people up into their beliefs. As a model, he has used the rhinoceros that at first seems strange and unattractive but lures most into the group. This is Theatre of the Absurd and heartBeast has staged it in a theatre that matched the play. In the Reservoir Theatre, at the bottom of four flights of stairs, the audience sat on three sides of a small square stage between four pillars.

One the Bear

Written and composed by Candy B and Busty Beatz. A La Boite, Campbelltown Arts Centre & Black Honey Company production. La Boite Roundhouse Theatre, 10 – 21 October, 2017

You could almost hear the fizz as the effervescent opening night crowd eagerly anticipated the start of One the Bear. Perhaps it was that the reputation of NIDA graduate and award winning performer Candy Bowers that had everyone so excited. Maybe the concept of Black Honey Company which she formed with her sister and long-time musical collaborator Kim Busty Beats Bowers had everyone enthused.

I Am My Own Wife

By Doug Wright. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Directed by Joe Hooligan Lui, Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA. Oct 12-29, 2017

I Am My Own Wifeis a fascinating one-person play by Doug Wright about the life of Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf, an off-beat and passionate museum curator and antiquarian who lived through the Nazi era and Communist East Germany, and was an openly transgender woman.

Director Joe Hooligan Lui, perhaps better known as a lighting and sound designer, brings sensitive but strong direction to this excellent story, and is also responsible for the clever and moving sound-scape.

No End Of Blame

By Howard Barker. Sport for Jove. Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre. October 12 – 28, 2017.

Sport for Jove has again defied its modest resources and reached for the gods with this ambitious saga from British writer Howard Barker.

Sweeping through the brutalities and oppressions of the 20th Century, No End of Blame, written in 1981, is a picaresque moral tale about a Hungarian cartoonist who refuses to bend his pencil to the will of regimes.

The Merchant of Venice

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Director Anne-Louise Sarks. The Playhouse - Canberra Theatre Centre, 13-21 October 2017; The Playhouse - Sydney Opera House, 24 October – 26 November, 2017.

Subtle and nuanced, with superb characterisation, Bell Shakespeare’s latest Merchant of Venice is a beautiful interpretation, much of which hinges on a densely-layered and very human characterisation of Shylock. Mitchell Butel imbues Shylock with dignity and grace, making an absolutely recognisable orthodox Jew right down to what sounded like authentic Hebrew prayer.

Angelique

By isthisyours? - presented by Insite Arts and Adelaide Festival Centre as part of the inSPACE program. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide. October 13-21, 2017

Are we the centre of our own universe or are there higher powers at work influencing our choices?

Formed in 2008 by five female creative minds isthisyours? is an inspiring theatre collective. I made the fortuitous decision to attend opening night of the company’s latest offering, Angelique, the result of a collaboration with writer Duncan Graham.

I want to share my secrets with you about how this show shattered all my pre-conceptions on the ways theatre can change you, but I fear I would damage the mystique.

The Season

By Nathan Maynard. Directed by Isaac Drandic. Tasmania Performs. Commissioned by Sydney Festival, Ten Days on the Island & Melbourne Festival. Melbourne Festival. The Coopers Malthouse Merlyn Theatre. 12 – 15 October 2017

The Season is an undoubted crowd-pleaser – a rambunctious family comedy-drama that is warm, funny, sad, sexy and maybe just a little corny in the best sense.  It takes us somewhere we’ve most likely never been – Big Dog Island in wild Bass Straight for ‘the season’ when the Duncan family gather to return to country and to hunt the migratory mutton birds, or shearwaters, for meat, oil and feathers.  We see the hunting – in which knotted grey rags stand in for the birds – but the play tells us no more than is necessary about that.&n

All the Sex I’ve Ever Had

By Tina Fance, Alice Fleming & Darren O’Donnell in collaboration with the performers. Directed by Darren O’Donnell. Mammalian Diving Reflex. Melbourne Festival. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 12 – 15 October 2017

Aren’t people amazing?’ the Companion whispers as another bit of someone’s sexual history is narrated from the stage.  She’s right: they are amazing.  Such experiences, such memories!  And to look at them, would you even suspect?  On stage, six ‘seniors’ – three women, three men – all over sixty-five, are lined up behind microphones like a panel for a Q&A after a show, complete with an MC (Moses Carr, a mere twenty) to one side. 

Annie

By Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Northern Light Theatre Company. Shedley Theatre (SA). October 13-28, 2017

The comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” was turned into a Broadway musical in 1977, followed by the smash hit movie Annie in 1982. In Northern Light Theatre Company’s production, this family musical has lost none of its charm as director Fran Edwards endeavours to recapture the wonder of the heart-warming tale of red headed orphan, Annie. Forgetting the old adage to never work with children or animals, Edwards takes on the challenge of steering the large cast.

Heathers: The Musical

By Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy. Phoenix Ensemble (Beenleigh, Qld). Oct 13 – Nov 4, 2017.

Heathers: The Musical is the perfect 80s movie flashback! It’s Pretty in Pink meets Breakfast Club with a side of Carrie to the beat of a Footloose soundtrack. And with its murders and suicides and dark moral ground, it doesn’t come with an empowering take-home message safe for children.

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