By Doug Wright. Directed by Chris Baldock. A Mockingbird Production. Arts House – the Meat Markets, North Melbourne. 2nd-15th August, 2014

Oh, if only all theatre companies were as brave as Mockingbird. Good theatre should be more than just entertaining, it should be always evocative and, when possible, provocative and even confronting. Director Chris Baldock doesn’t shy away from any of these in his production of Doug Wright’s seldom-performed gasp-a-minute play Quills, about the (fictitious) last days of the infamous Marquis de Sade in Charenton asylum.

The Seafarer

By Conor McPherson. Presented by Hoy Polloy at fortyfive downstairs, CBD Melbourne. 30 July – 10 August 2014

10.30am on the day before Christmas.  A crummy basement flat in a Dublin suburb.  James ‘Sharkey’ Hardin has finished (or was he fired?) a job as a chauffeur down south.  He’s come ‘home’ to look after his now blind older brother, the irascible, aggressive and none-too-clean Richard.  As Sharkey’s past comes out, he’s revealed as a sad but angry and violent loser and even a murderer long ago.  An alcoholic, he’s trying to stay on the wagon – an enterprise his brother regards with skeptical contempt.  As he w

The Burning

By Duncan Ley. Directed by Duncan Driver. Produced by Everyman Theatre. The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. 31 July – 10 August, 2014

You can’t fight faith with logic and win, because faith will never listen. So says Bishop Philipp Schiller in Duncan Ley’s 2001 play The Burning. But logic is not entirely powerless, as the play proves. Although ostensibly set in a witch trial in 1628, these are modern characters engaged in timeless predicaments, where faith has been moulded by self-interest to allow extreme cruelty and injustice. There are too many modern parallels to list here, with echoes in almost every major political and international story today.

The Flick

By Annie Baker, directed by Nadia Tass. Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre. Shebeen, 36 Manchester Lane, Melbourne. August 2nd – 17th, 2014

Playwright Annie Baker won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with  The Flick, and it’s easy to see why. This beautifully written and structured play gives us an honest, insightful and heartfelt look inside the lives of three people working together in a neighbourhood cinema, one of the last of its kind to still be screening movies on film in this digital age.

Dark Voyager

By John Misto. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Anna Crawford. 24 July – 30 August, 2014

John Misto’s new full-length play puts Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe and vicious gossip columnist Hedda Hopper on stage together. This is a two-act drama we’re talking about, not a crazy farce or a revue sketch.

There are loads of laughs and a mention of every factoid, rumour and saucy speculation you’ve ever heard about the power quartet. But can such ingredients make a drama that ends in bitter confrontation and an infamous, real-life murder/suicide? That is the question.

Siren Song

Growling Grin Productions. La Boheme, Grote Street, Adelaide. July 31 – August 2, 2014.

Siren Song is a special cabaret double-feature, performed in central Adelaide venue ‘La Boheme’; a Parisian themed bar with a unique bohemian ambience. Staging this show is Growling Grin Productions, a South Australian based performing arts group founded by Benjamin Orchard and Olivia Jane Parker.

Charitable Intent

By David Williamson. KADS. Directed by Christine Ellis. Town Hall Theatre, Kalamunda WA. 18 July - 9 Aug 2014

Charitable Intent is the third play in David Williamson's Jack Manning trilogy. Director Christine Ellis' son Brendan directed the first play Face to Face for Stirling Players in 2012 and followed it with A Conversation at the Old Mill Theatre last year. Mum, Christine completes the trilogy for Kalamunda Dramatic Society (KADS).

Set in the training room at charitable organisation E & C (Enabling and Caring), a meeting has been called, following a breakdown in staff relations at the charity.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

By Rupert Holmes. Bankstown Theatre Company. Olympic Parade Theatre, Bankstown. July 25 to August 3, 2014

Charles Dickens’ final, unfinished novel gets a different ending each night in this rollicking music hall style entertainment, a Tony Award winning show-within-a-show musical.

Because Dickens didn’t complete his novel, each audience gets to vote for the evening’s murderer, detective, and pairing of lovers. It’s a delightful twist on the musical theatre form.

Glory Dazed

By Cat Jones. Directed by Greg Carroll. Red Stitch Actors Theatre (Vic). July 23rd – August 23rd, 2014

With yet another triumph from Red Stitch, Director Greg Carroll gives us a totally satisfying realisation of Cat Jones’ powerful short play about the emotional “Casualties of War” – this time the Afghanistan conflict. He has an exceptional cast and creative crew to work with, but it’s Carroll who seamlessly pulls it all together.

The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde. State Theatre Company S A. Dunstan Playhouse. July 25-August 16, 2014

Oscar Wilde sub-titled the high farce that is The Importance of Being Earnest as A Trivial Comedy for Serious People. Well, there’s nothing trivial about its enduring capacity to delight audiences and this continues to be true with the State Theatre’s current Adelaide production of Wilde’s 1890’s classic.

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