Reviews

Catch-22

By Joseph Heller. Director: Morgan Little. Assistant Director: Bojana Kos. National University Theatre Society (NUTS). ANU Arts Centre, 22 – 25 August 2012.

Catch-22 (1961), Joseph Heller’s best-known novel, was adapted by Heller as a stage play in 1971.  It’s a long, sprawling, convoluted work (and that’s saying it as a fan of the book). How can it be compressed into an evening’s theatrical work? And how could it possibly express the multitude of characters, motivations, behaviours and confusion?

CHESS

Music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus; Lyrics by Tim Rice. The Production Company. State Theatre, Melbourne until August 26, 2012.

When word got out in 1981 that Tim Rice, after splitting with Andrew Lloyd Webber, was planning a musical with The ABBA boys as his composer, there was scepticism and even some ridicule:- “A Queen, a Bishop and a Knight walked into a record store and said “Have you got any ABBA songs?” Of course, those of us who were avid ABBA fans, who knew the musical sophistication of the counterpoint in such songs as ‘The Name of the Game’, couldn’t wait.

Little Shop of Horrors

By Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. Shire Music Theatre (NSW). Sutherland School of Arts. August 17 – 26, 2012.

Romance, rock’n’roll, comedy, B-Grade Hollywood horror movie send-up, sado-masochism and a man-eating plant – what more could you ask for in a musical?

Kenney Ogilvie’s production for Shire Music Theatre is one of those special little community theatre treats.

The Body Snatcher

By Scott Barsotti (based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s story). Brisbane Arts Theatre, 11 Aug – 8 Sept, 2012.

This is more than a horror classic, finely acted; it is also a mind bender.

RLS based his story on the 1820s Burke and Hare murders: two grave robbers ended up murdering people to meet demand for cadavers for Edinburgh surgeons’ dissection and technical training.

The Memorandium

Barking Spider Visual Theatre. Theatre Works St Kilda. Aug 16 - Sept 1, 2012.

The wonderfully named Barking Spider Visual Theatre has created a show as warm and nourishing to the soul as the cups of hot chocolate handed out to audience members as they arrive. A fascination with objects led artistic director, and performer Penelope Bartlau, to create and co-direct a show about why we hold on to things, or perhaps why they hold on to us.

Murder Most Funny

By Tony Laumberg. Tap Gallery Theatre, Darlinghurst. August 16 – September 9, 2012.

Murder Most Funny by Tony Laumberg (Bondi Legal) takes the standard murder mystery plot, adds some comedic spice and a slight twist to produce a solid and entertaining product. The play centres on the most famous children’s band in the world, ‘The Giggles’, and adds a murder mystery, a love story, a publicist and a policeman.

Vernon God Little

By DBC Pierre, adapted by Tanya Ronder. New Theatre, Newtown (NSW). August 14 – September 15, 2012.

Australian-born DBC Pierre won the Booker Prize for his first novel, Vernon God Little, and Tanya Ronder’s recent stage adaptation in London was muchapplauded. Not so for this shapeless New Theatre production.

Angels In America. Part 1 – The Millenium Approaches.

By Tony Kushner. Director: Peter Kalos. Three Big Men Productions. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). Aug 16 – Sep 1.

Once in a lifetime a play comes along that defines a generation. Set in 1985 and first produced in 1991, Angels in America is that play. Simultaneously comic, tragic, harrowing, poetic, challenging and ultimately spiritually uplifting, it is a masterpiece of modern theatre, and Tony Kushner richly deserved his Pulitzer prize and Tony award. This exploration of life, death and discovering and owning who we truly are, apart from whom we perceive ourselves and others to be, runs a staggering 7 hours in its entirety, so we only see Part 1.

On the Misconception of Oedipus

Devised by Zoe Atkinson, Matthew Lutton and Tom Wright. Text: Tom Wright: Malthouse Theatre. Malthouse Theatre – Beckett Theatre. 10 – 25 August & Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre of WA from 5 to 15 September, 2012

In the Beckett Theatre at the Malthouse Theatre, a psychological unraveling is, well, unraveling.  It includes Oedipus, the man who famously murders his father and marries his mother, and his parents Laius and Jocasta.  A prequel to the Greek tragedy, On the Misconceptions of Oedipus is an attempt to explore what happened to the people behind the myth. 

Will and the Ghost

By Aoise Stratford. Black Box at The Bakehouse Theatre. 15 - 25 Aug 2012.

Venturing out in wind and rain, I was glad that Will and the Ghost, at 55 minutes, was the shortest of the three plays about or by William Shakespeare currently on the boards in Adelaide.

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