Reviews

A Murder is Announced

A Miss Marple Mystery by Agatha Christie. Michael Coppel, Louise Withers and Linda Bewick in association with Mousetrap Productions Ltd, London. Sydney Theatre, Walsh Bay. September 27 – October 27, 2013, then Melbourne from October 30 and Brisbane from December 27.

It’s not surprising that in a world obsessed with murder and mystery (just look at a weekly television schedule) that the classics of the genre such as Agatha Christie still remain popular.

What is so surprising is that in a world where storytelling has given way to short attention spans, Agatha Christie’s writing stands the test of time and reminds us of an era when detail and exposition were not such a bad thing.

Super Discount

Back to Back, Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre. Wharf 1 Theatre, Sydney. September 20 - October 19, 2013 & Malthouse Theatre November 13 to December 1.

Following its successful Sydney season, Super Discount has started its Melbourne run at the Malthouse Theatre. Extremely challenging, provocative, intelligent and confrontational, it is a piece of theatre that will not appeal to everyone, and indeed may well unsettle many people - for which very reason, everyone should see it.

The Burlesque Effect

By Wayne Tunks. Javeenbah Theatre Company, Gold Coast. Director: Gillian Crowe. September 27 – October 8, 2013.

Set in the bustling city of Sydney, emerging from the shadow of the World War II and reliant on trams as the mode of transport to many parts of the metropolis, The Burlesque Effect centres on the lives and loves of the exotic dancers of the Scarlett Lounge and their customers.

In bringing this piece to the stage, director Gillian Crowe and choreographer Tess Burke capture the atmosphere of the art of burlesque (striptease).

Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare. Sydney Theatre Company. Director: Kip Williams. Designer: David Fleischer. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. September 20 to November 2, 2013

This classic is set not in Verona, but in a contemporary mansion, where children of the filthy rich swing from chandeliers and push around shopping trolleys of alcohol. Aided by contemporary rock music the fast paced action is engaging.

The opening of the season was slightly delayed when the stage revolve played up during rehearsals, and it’s not difficult to see why it would take a while to get the spin right. In the first act, the set moves round at such a rapid pace that at times a brisk jog is needed to keep up.  

Camp

By Gary Baxter. Ensemble Theatre (NSW). Director: Mark Kilmurry. September 19 – October 26, 2013 at the Ensemble, followed by October 30 – November 2 at Q Theatre, Penrith.

The Ensemble has brought a varied palette of well-written plays to the Sydney theatre scene this year, and Camp is no exception. But, unlike more serious and thought-provoking productions, this is a rollicking situation-type comedy that is so very typically Australian and yet universal in its appeal.

Untapped

Raw Dance Company / Brisbane Festival. QUT Gardens Theatre. September 25 – 29, 2013.

It's not often a reviewer can write about the choreography of a tongue, a set of vocal chords, hands and even flippers, but along with ten tapping feet, thumping bass, guitar and percussion, Brisbane-based Raw Dance Company performed with all of the above and more in this rhythmic extravaganza of dazzling sight and sound.

The Peach Season

By Debra Oswald. Castle Hill Players (NSW). Pavilion Theatre. September 27 – October 19, 2013.

Previews are really final rehearsals that give the cast, the crew and the director a gauge of audience reaction and the chance to make last minute ‘twitches’. Yet no one in the small preview audience seemed aware of any of this as they were taken in by the very recognizable characters and timeless themes in this production of Debra Oswald’s play about family ties, teenage rebellion, young love and sibling responsibility.

Children of Eden

Book by John Caird (Based on a concept by Charles Lisanby). Music and Lyrics Stephen Schwartz. Magnormos (Vic). Director: Aaron Joyner. Musical Director: Cameron Thomas. Melbourne Recital Centre. Monday 23rd September, 2013.

Children of Eden is all about the beginning, but it played last in the triptych of Stephen Schwartz’s musicals, preceded by Godspell and Pippin, all presented by Magnormos this September.

The narrative focuses on the two Biblical creation stories in the book of Genesis: Adam, Eve, the Garden of Eden, their banishment into the wilderness, and their sons Cain and Abel in the first half, and then the story of Noah and the flood after interval.

City of Shadows

A Song Cycle of Murder, Misfortune and Forensics by Rachael Dease. For Helium – Malthouse. The Tower, Malthouse Theatre. September 21 to October 5, 2013.

The cumulative effect of City of Shadows is atmospheric, mystifying and fascinatingly haunting. It is something of a shared guilty pleasure to clinically contemplate projected forensic photographic records of disarmingly frank images of faces of the ‘wicked’ caught in that Grand Old Dame and ‘City of Sin’ – Sydney. 

The photographs are generally from the 1920s, an era with its evocative sense of romance still to this day intrinsically deeply embedded in the character and feel of Sydney.

The Phantom of the Opera

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Charles Hart. Directed by Col Peet. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. September 20 – 29, 2013.

It is a thrill to see a musical which is so fiendishly difficult to stage – produced with such panache by a community theatre for the first time in Sydney.

The Miranda Musical Society had the additional challenge of staging the work in a venue without a fly tower – which limited the famous chandeliers to a hoist -  and inadequate space for the orchestra.

Instead the audience could see the off stage musicians corralled next to the entrance to the dress circle, with the music piped back into the venue.  

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