Reviews

Boston Marriage

By David Mamet. QTC. Director: Andrea Moor. Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane, 24 Jan – 15 Feb, 2015

David Mamet’s plays are normally full of foul-language, testosterone-macho braggards, and sizzling word-play. To appease his critics Mamet did a complete switch and wrote Boston Marriage to prove he could write for women.

Madama Butterfly

By Puccini. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 27 – March 28, 2015

The 1997 set and costume design for this production is just as stunning as it must have been for its original audience. The decision by director Moffatt Oxenbould and graduating NIDA designers Peter England and Russell Cohen to call upon the traditions of Kabuki, Noh and Bunraku theatre sets the production firmly in Japan. And, it accentuates the exotic view that Westerners had of the orient at the turn of last century. It also enhances the authenticity of the ceremonies and rituals that Puccini ensured were worked into the libretto.

Loving Repeating

Music by Stephen Flaherty. Words by Gertrude Stein. Adapted by Frank Galati. Directed by Jason Langley. Vic Theatre Company. Chapel off Chapel. January 21 - February 8, 2015.

Once in a rare while a show comes along that somehow transcends the sum of its parts  and creates true magic on the stage. For 2015 (even this early in the year) that show is Loving Repeating, a boutique musical built on the writings of Gertrude Stein with a beautiful score by the award winning composer Stephen Flaherty, with Stein’s writing adapted by original director Frank Galati, serving as lyrics and Galati creating the book.

Daylight Saving

By Nick Enright. Castle Hill Players. Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill. January 30 – February 21, 2015

Nick Enright’s play, set on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in the 1980s, is a play of its time, and, despite some funny lines and kooky characters, that’s where it stays! However it does lends itself to farce – because of constant arrivals and departures, many phone calls and some failed attempts at subterfuge – but if it’s played straight it doesn’t quite make it as either a farce or a period piece.

However, Bernard Teuben’s production takes place on an impressive set that sets the scene and the atmosphere evocatively.

The Unspoken Word is ‘Joe’

By Zoey Dawson. MKA: Theatre of New Writing / Griffin Independent. SBW Stables Theatre. January 21 – February 7, 2015.

A play within a play within a play. Is your brain hurting yet? Griffin Theatre’s Independent season of The Unspoken Word is ‘Joe’ is meta theatre. The audience take their seats and see director/stage direction reader (Natasha Herbert) welcome us to tonight’s play reading of The Unspoken Word is ‘Joe’. The play reading begins and the line between where it stops and starts continues to blur until 60 minutes later the audience are kindly asked to vacate the theatre.

Signal Driver

By Patrick White, music by Carl Vine AO. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport. Director: Noella Johnson. January 24th – February 7th, 2015

Patrick White wrote Signal Driver at the request of director Jim Sharman.

A short play (approximately 90 minutes – including a 20 minute interval); a married couple face life through three progressive periods of the journey through life which starts and ends with a transport shelter: at first – a tram stop and later, a bus stop. Their journey is shared with two ever present “beings” that regularly break into little ditties and dances to enhance the plot (contributed by Order of Australia recipient, Carl Vine).

Stop Kiss

By Diana Son. Boutique Theatre at Brunswick Mechanics Institute (VIC). 22 January – 7 February 2015.

Here is a love story that pivots on an act of violence.  Near dawn in a New York park, Callie and Sara finally reveal what both want - their first kiss.  And some misogynistic man looms out of the darkness and attacks them. The violence is not the climax, or even, really, the subject; it is in a way the beginning, a sort of catalyst that opens the unexpected. 

Cougar Morrison

Devilles' Pad, Perth. Strindberg Stages / Fringeworld Festival. 25 Jan - 7 Feb, 2015

Cougar Morrison is a theatrical cabaret by Strindberg Stages and is performed as part of the Fringeworld Festival.

Cougar is somewhat of an alter-ego of performer Clint Strindberg and this show is the story of Cougar's life interspersed with amazing singing and clever banter.  New Orleans born Cougar has studied and performed in France, New York and Australia. The songs are varied and wonderfully chosen and include some songs in French, as befits a Louisiana native.

Kiss and Cry

Charleroi Dances, Belgium / Sydney Festival. Carriageworks. Jan 22 – 25, 2015.

Writing about this shining little gem in the festival crown cannot begin to express all the emotive strings it pulls, all the touching moments it portrays, all the incredible co-ordination it requires or all the continuing images and messages that remain.

On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco

By Chekhov, Bach, Berio and Tchaikovsky. Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord / Sydney Festival. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. January 22 – 25, 2014.

Chekhov’s solo monologue, On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco, begins with an old man, a smoker, berated by his wife to give a free lecture on that subject.  Nioukhine instead wanders through tangents about his bullying wife, his petty jobs slaving at her music school and his, typically Chekhovian, yearning to escape. .

By adding Nioukhine’s three daughters onstage, as a singer, pianist and violinist, France’s Theatre des Bouffes du Nord transforms this tale into a theatrical and musical gem. 

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