Reviews

EMPIRE

Spiegelworld. The Spiegeltent. Rooftop, Crown Casino (Vic). March 11th to April 20th, 2014.

Sometimes one standing ovation just isn’t enough; so be prepared to be on your feet two or three times when you see this sensational production, which loosely sings the praises of New York City (though comic host “Oscar” [Jonathan Taylor] tells us expletively that Empire doesn’t need a story like ****ing Cirque du Soleil.)

Dimboola

By Jack Hibberd. Epicentre Theatre Company. King Street Theatre, Newtown (NSW). March 13 – 22, 2014.

Vivid and rude, this production of the classic comedy was grabbed by the scruff of the neck by a 20 something student director who was born twenty years after it was written.

Darcy Green set up an authentic looking  wedding booze up for the late 1960’s union of Protestant Morrie McAdam and Catholic Reen Delaney in the Mechanics Institute Hall, Dimboola, Victoria.

When one of his stars got laryngitis the student director learnt the role of Horrie in a few days.

Fight Night

The Border Project and Ontroerend Goend. Directed by Alexander Devriendt. Adelaide Festival. Queen's Theatre. March 13-16 2014.

Five contenders in bathrobes. A ringmaster with stock-standard bow tie and microphone. The stage is set - but this competition will hinge entirely on talking, thinking, persuasion, manipulation.

Subverting an audience's expectations can be a risky enterprise, but the minds behind Fight Night have done it, and delivered a presentation that is as gripping and thrilling as it is clever and sly.

Djuki Mala

“Chooky Dancers”. Judith Wright Centre of Creative Arts, Brisbane. 13 – 15 March 2014

Most people know where Northern Territory is but wouldn’t know where to find Elcho Island (home of the Chooky Dancers). Without You Tube you may never have heard of the Chooky Dancers. Their short 2010 You Tube video attracted over 800,000 viewers worldwide. That put the long little island just off the northern Arnhem Land coast on the map.

Elcho Island young men adapted traditional dances to embrace the western world’s popular music. They do it with panache!

The Long Pigs

Devised and performed by Clare Bartholomew, Derek Ives and Nicci Wilks. Director Susie Dee. Set design Anna Tregloan. Composer and sound design Jethro Woodward. Lighting design Andy Turner. Costume and artistic fabrication Amanda Carr. Produced by Insite Arts. 45 Downstairs until 23 March, 2014. (Vic).

It’s not often in the theatre that you suddenly realise you are in the presence of creative genius – but this love-child of Sweeney Todd, Stephen King, Charles Dickens and the Ringling Brothers is simply sensational. Like the internationally-acclaimed Slava’s Snowshow (which was the last time magic happened in the theatre for me to this extent), The Long Pigs harvests the rich, tragi-comedic terrain of Clown with unprecedented creativity and skill.

Breast Wishes

Directed by Terry Hackett. KADS Town Square Theatre, Kalamunda (WA). 21 Feb to 15 Mar, 2014

Breast Wishes is aptly subtitled “an uplifting musical” and as well as being a really cute pun, the sentiment applies beautifully to KADS’ presentation of this show, which despite some confronting subject matter, leaves its audience feeling good.

The Exhibitionist

Hannah Gadsby. Brisbane Comedy Festival. 25 February - 23 March 2014.

Hannah Gadsby was boisterously welcomed to the stage by the almost full house. These pundits in a twenties to forties age bracket clearly know her talent and style; they had their laughing gear ready and she gave them material

War Horse

Adapted by Nick Stafford from the novel by Michael Morpurgo. National Theatre Live (cinema screening of Britain’s National Theatre production). Participating cinemas nationwide from March 8, 2014.

The National Theatre’s production of War Horse has attracted so much media coverage since it was brought to the London stage that any review is inevitably going to cover well-trodden ground for those familiar with the show. Brought to us as part of the wonderful NT Live series of UK theatre productions recorded in hi-def video and presented in cinemas nationally by Sharmill Films, War Horse tells the deeply affecting story of a boy and his horse.

Mr Bennet’s Bride

By Emma Wood. Newcastle Theatre Company. Directed by Julie Black. The NTC Theatre, Lambton (Newcastle). 8 – 22 March, 2014.

Newcastle writer Emma Wood’s comedy about a young man forced to find a bride swiftly is a delight in this premiere production, with director Julie Black and the cast ensuring that the laughter does not obscure the serious side of the situations.

Wood has used references in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice to the backgrounds of the ill-matched parents of the Bennet sisters to show how they came together. But audience members don’t need to be familiar with Pride and Prejudice to enjoy the tale.

Rent

By Jonathan Larson. Campbelltown Theatre Group. Mar 7 – 22, 2014

Campbelltown Theatre Group's 2014 season kicked off to a good start with its production of Rent. There's much to like about this production.

Rob Thompson's choreography is spot on and always enhances the scene (good to see a choreographer who knows when NOT to choreograph). MD Craig Davidson cooks a really tight band and gets great harmonies from the cast. First time director Ruth Smith does a good job moving the show along.

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