Written by Will Eno. Directed by Alice Darling. Red Stitch (Vic). 20th November-19th December, 2015

In keeping with the old adage “save the best till last”, Red Stitch ends its mixed bag 2015 season with a stunning Australian premiere from American playwright Will Eno.

Eno is one of those writers you either love or hate. Fabulously witty, on the surface his work can seem almost absurdist and trite …but it’s the weight of what is beneath the words that makes him special. His writing is narrow but deep, and he may well be the first absurdist existentialist since Samuel Beckett…..

Jerry’s Girls

Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman. Directed by Dean Bryant. The Production Company. Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. November 21 – December 6, 2015

I adore Jerry Herman. He understands Leading Ladies better than any other Broadway composer and his songs for them are iconic. And last night his “Girls” were fantastic. If you take eleven of our finest leading ladies and let them loose singing these songs you would have every right to expect a triumph. And, indeed, you almost get it. The “Girls” are (mostly) sensational, which is even more remarkable given the handicap they have to overcome. The handicap comes in the form of writer/director Dean Bryant.

Grey Gardens

By Scott Frankel, Doug Wright and Michael Korie. Squabbalogic. Seymour Centre, Sydney. Nov 18 – Dec 12, 2015.

Oddly enough, the story of Jackie Onassis’ ultimately reclusive aunt and cousin living with cats in an East Hampton mansion makes a good musical.  At least in the first half.  

Stage-struck Edith Bouvier Beale, the older, loves to dominate her parties with a song, even as she plans the 1941 engagement do of her daughter, Edie, and promising Joe Kennedy junior (Simon McLachlan).  Beth Daly plays Edith as a fine patrician bulldozer and Caitlin Berry brings a desperate grace to young Edie who longs to leave Grey Gardens and hit the boards as well.

Don’t Dress for Dinner

By Marc Camoletti. Directed by Walter Learning. Canberra REP, Theatre 3, Acton, Canberra ACT. Nov 19 – Dec 5, 2015

Don’t Dress for Dinner is a fast and funny farce, and an amusing evening of mind-twisting fibs, truth entanglements and wit.  It is set in a renovated farmhouse in France, where Bernard the philandering husband is sending his wife Jacqueline to her mother’s house for the weekend. His plans are messed up by the early arrival of Robert, his friend, as well as the arrival of Suzy the caterer, and Jacqueline changing her plans.

The Chain Bridge

By Tom Davis. Directed by Caroline Stacey. The Street Theatre, Canberra. 21–29 November 2015.

Steadily unravelling the secrets that have lain in wait for up to 54 years in the memories of three survivors of World War II, the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, and escape from war-sundered Budapest for eventual arrival in Melbourne, this multidimensional piece reveals the desperate responses that desperate circumstances wrought of good people simply trying to get by.  And it skilfully sets about revealing the way in which those living with these memories of loss and compromise can contain complexities of gentleness and vehemence, of perspicuity and blindness, of deep humanity an

Bonnie and Clyde

Music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Don Black and a book by Ivan Menchell. Murray Music and Drama Club. Directed by Zoe Jay. Pinjarra Civic Centre, WA. Nov 13 -28, 2015.

Murray Music and Drama Club have transformed the Pinjarra Civic Centre into a 1930s gangster world for director Zoe Jay's Bonnie and Clyde. Front of House staff dressed to impress, a transformed auditorium, wonderfully decorated table settings abound on the cabaret tables and a photo booth with gangster accoutrements allow the audience to continue their involvement through interval.

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens

By Charlotte Mann. Blak Yak. Directed by Lorna Mackie. Memorial Hall, Hamilton Hill, WA. Nov 19 - Dec 5, 2015

Blak Yak's Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens is completely immersive theatre, as Phoenix Theatre's venue - The Memorial Hall, in Hamilton Hill, is transformed into cosmic cabaret bar, Saucy Jack's. Played essentially in the round, the audience become patrons at the bar and part of the action.

This is a fabulous looking production, much of this thanks to stunning costumes and wigs by Lynda Stubbs. Gorgeously and gloriously glitzy, the costumes are a central part of the plot and a treat within themselves.

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery

By David McGillivray & Walter Zerlin Jnr. Director: Gilly Graham. Nash Theatre. Merthyr Road Methodist Church, New Farm, Brisbane. 14 Nov – 5 Dec 2015

Nash Theatre rounds out their season of Murder They Wrote with one of the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate titles in what has become a very popular series for amateur theatre companies worldwide. Basically it’s a poor man’s Noises Off where an amateur group put on a play and everything goes wrong.

The Elixir of Love

By Donizetti. Opera Australia. Director: Simon Phillips. Conductor: Benjamin Northey. Arts Centre Melbourne. Nov 21 – 28, 2015.

This latest offering of the popular The Elixir of Love had an Australian setting and was a real hoot. Set in the First World War, the stage was awash with corrugated iron hills, sheep, cattle, and even a string of galahs on a wire. At one stage Nemorino sheared a sheep or two, and carried the corrugated iron fleece off stage.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

By Ray Lawler. Director: Leo Wockner. Villanova Players. F.T. Barrell Centre, Yeronga High School, Yeronga, Brisbane. 20 Nov – 6 Dec 2015

This production of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll completes Villanova’s Doll Trilogy which they began in 2013 with Kid Stakes and followed in 2014 with Other Times. We’re back in Melbourne in a Carlton terraced boarding house of the fifties. A time when there’s a nightly six-o-clock swill at the pub, where two-up is played in the back lanes, and there’s weekly community singing at the local Town Hall.

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