Reviews

His Mother’s Voice

By Justin Fleming. Bakehouse Theatre Company. atyp Studio 1, Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay. April 30 – May 17, 2014

As well as being a heart-warming love story, this is a play about courage in the face of brutality and the terrible risk of clinging on to something you hold dearer than the might and power of the state.

Belleville

By Amy Herzog. Red Stitch Actors Theatre (Vic). Directed by Denny Lawrence May 2 – 31, 2014.

Deception and dependency so often feed off each other, fed by need rather than love, and ultimately undone by the breaking of trust. These are the emotions Amy Herzog explores with great style and empathy in her harrowing new play, which is, itself, deceptive in its unfolding. Small wonder that she is taking the world by storm, and even less surprising that Red Stitch have chosen to present the Australian Premiere.

Yellow Moon

By David Greig. Presented by MTC Education. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler. (Vic) 2 - 16 May, 2014, then touring regionally 19 to 31 May.

The stage is bare, but for four benches.  The slats of one bench curve up like horns – or branches.  In the course of the show these benches will be, in the audience’s imagination, simply benches, but also beds, the side of a snow-covered mountain, a forest, a deer, a window into a mansion and the edge of a lake at dawn.  There are no props and yet, in the course of the story, there are knives, guns, cooking utensils, varieties of food and drink, and old vinyl record turntables – all mimed with perfect clarity by the cast.  So powerful are these creatio

Romeo and Juliet

University of Adelaide Theatre Guild. The Little Theatre. May 3-17, 2014.

Every production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet must rely heavily on the chemistry between its teenage lovers to be successful. Thanks to their natural acting skills and the sensitive direction of Megan Dansie, the young principals in the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s version of the play have their ‘chemical balance’ just right. Add in fine performances from the more experienced actors in the cast, some authentic fight scenes, terrific costumes and this is a very good Romeo and Juliet.

The Silence Came

Written and Directed by Duncan Maurice. The Commons, Darlinghurst. April 21-May 26, 2014.

You show up at an old house in Darlinghurst for a production you’ve got little idea about. You’re in control, they tell you. There are various rooms across the three levels of this house and it’s up to you which room you spend time in and which characters you get to know.

So Much To Tell You

By John Marsden. Directed by Gail Lusted. Garrick Theatre, Guildford, WA. 1-17 May, 2014

John Marsden's play, So Much To Tell You, based on his novel of the same name, is a favourite in high school drama classes (especially in girls' schools) but is rarely performed outside a school setting, so it was exciting to see Garrick Theatre attempt this show, where all the principal roles are played by teenagers.

The story of a scarred teenager, sent to boarding school when she refuses to speak, is based on a true story, and is both compelling and confronting.

Downtown

Created by Phillip George, David Lowenstein, Charles Morris. Supa North. Director/Musical Director: Paul Belsham. Ballina R.S.L. (NSW). 2nd to 10th May, 2014.

Following the huge success of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Supa North have another hit on their hands with Downtown; a musical celebration of British Music of the 60’s and early 70’s.

The School for Scandal

By Richard Brinsley Sheridan. PLoT (Produce Lots of Theatre). Director: Mark Morgan. Peacock Theatre, Hobart. 24 April – 3 May 2014

The Peacock Theatre in Hobart was recently the venue of an unpleasant school - The School for Scandal. PLoT (Produce Lots of Theatre) presented a new version of the much-produced Sheridan play.

1984

By George Orwell. Adapted and presented by shake & stir theatre co. Directed by Michael Futcher. The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. 30 April - 3 May, 2014 and touring Australia

In his famous essays on clear language, George Orwell counselled against the use of the “decorative adjective”, which is a shame because this adaptation calls for a slew of superlatives.  shake & stir’s take on the 1948 masterpiece is inspired, with an overbearing wall of huge plasmas standing in for Big Brother’s screen. Sometimes the visual amplifies the horror by closing in on an emotional response.  At other times, it projects Winston Smith’s thoughts, or as he imagines scenes of respite reads from his illegal diary.

The Tender Land

By Aaron Copland. Lyric Opera of Melbourne. Director: John Kachoyan. Conductor: Pat Miller. Chapel off Chapel.

Opera is usually associated with big voices singing in big venues. With The Tender Land, Lyric Opera put up a strong case for the opposite approach.

In this intimate venue beautiful pianissimo singing was the order of the day, and didn’t the audience love it. The small orchestra at the side was lovingly controlled by Pat Miller and so voices didn’t have to fight to be heard. It meant that no voice dominated the ensembles, and it was a real ensemble opera.

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