Reviews

Australia Day

By Jonathan Biggins. Queensland Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC. January 27-February 16, 2014

This comedy bites!

Jonathan Biggins’ reputation for biting political satire in the Wharf Revues carries over to this play where he widens his scope to all Aussies. This is clever writing. We recognise ourselves, hear ourselves sounding off, but it may not be what we want to admit to. But I’d be surprised if people don’t go home and think about it for months afterwards.

Private Lives

By Noël Coward. Melbourne Theatre Company. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. 25 January to 8 March, 2014.

Private Lives is an illuminating, eighty-four year-old classic that bobs up in production, here and there, again and again.  It is the simple story of a divorced couple honeymooning, at exactly the same time, with new partners, in adjacent hotel rooms that share a connected balcony.  What ensues is emotional and physical mayhem that highlights the social mores of the 1930’s. At the same time it tenders more than a little insight into the nature of passionate love and its capacity to overwhelm and flail.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.

Directed by Gary Abrahams. Theatre Works, St Kilda (Part of Midsumma Festival). 29 Jan – 8 Feb, 2014

Best known for its 1972 film incarnation, the Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a play by Rainer Werner Fassbinder which takes us inside the life of a fashion designer prone to extreme histrionics. Veering between self-obsessed, arrogant, manipulative, unreasonable, sadistic and thoroughly unsympathetic, Petra von Kant spends most of the play's almost-two-hours swinging wildly from proclamations of love to swearing she hates everyone in sight.

THE SHADOW KING

Co-created by Tom E Lewis & Michael Kantor. Carriageworks Bay 17. 23 to 26 January 2014.

That ‘ol King Lear fella still goin’

The Unexpected Guest

By Agatha Christie. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport (Qld). Director: Andrew Trump. Jan 25th – Feb 15th, 2014.

GCLT’s 2014 season began with the Agatha Christie thriller The Unexpected Guest, regarded by the playwright as one of her favourites.

Director Andrew Trump steered the strong, nine member cast through all the twists expected in a play of this nature with pace and style. Each character was believable – especially when the inevitable finger pointing and accusations started to flow.

Diamonds Are For Trevor

Written by Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott, Directed by Craig Ilot. Musical Direction by Geoffrey Castles. For Midsumma Festival. Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. Jan 28th – Feb 1st, 2014.

If you look up talent in a dictionary you’ll find definitions like: 1) a marked innate ability, as for artistic accomplishment; 2) a person who possesses unusual innate ability in some field or activity, often creative. There are hundreds of similar definitions, but none comes close to describing the amazing Trevor Ashley’s metamorphosis into Shirley Bassey last night at the Playhouse Theatre.

The Turk in Italy

By Giachino Rossini. Libretto by Felice Romani, after libretto by Cterino Mazzolà. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 22 – February 12, 2014.

Frothier than cappuccino, effervescent as champagne, with more plot twists than a TV soapie, Rossini’s 200 year old opera The Turk in Italy delights in Simon Phillips’ brand new tongue-in-cheek 1950s inspired makeover for Opera Australia; a startling achievement for an obscure comic opera, unexceptional in its own right, and modest in reputation.

Young Frankenstein

Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks. Directed by Brad Tudor. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana, WA. Jan 17 - Feb 1, 2014

The West Australian premiere of Young Frankenstein is a well paced, very funny rendition of this comic musical. Nicely cast, with well-crafted performances, this show deserves the warm reception it received.

Jessie Angus shines in the title role, delivering an excellent, nicely timed performance including some impressive dancing. He is well matched in Laurence Williams as off-sider Igor, who also creates an excellent character and quickly becomes an audience favourite. John Lambert was lovely as the lumbering monster.

Othello The Remix

Chicago Shakespeare Theater & Richard Jordan Productions. Sydney Festival. York Theatre, Seymour Centre. January 23 – 26, 2014.

The Q Brothers take on Shakespeare's classic story of Othello is fresh, quirky and inspired.

The idea to modernise Shakespeare through hip-hop music and rap is seemingly out of left field and on the face of it appears to be a gimmick. But look a little closer and it's obvious why the Q Brothers, JQ and GQ looked to the man they call the original genius lyricist for the basis of their productions. Othello The Remix is the company's third such show and was first premiered at The Globe Theatre in London last year.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Tim Rice. Directed by Robert Coates. Young Australian Broadway Chorus. Beckett Theatre, Malthouse. Jan 22nd to Feb 1st, 2014. Also at Adelaide Fringe Festival from March 11-15, 2014 at the Odeon Theatre.

It really doesn’t matter what this review says, because the entire season is already sold out. Yes, every seat for every performance. So I can be totally honest and say…. “And so they should be, the production is a triumph for everyone involved.”

The first show of the huge portfolio of Webber/Rice hits, the show has a naivety and simplicity that is quite charming, and this production plays to those qualities at the same time as showcasing the sophistication of the astonishing costumes, band, lighting and direction.

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