Reviews

Heathers The Musical

By Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy. WAAPA Final Year Music Theatre Students. Directed by Andrew Lewis. Geoff Gibbs Theatre, WAAAPA, Edith Cowan University, Mt Lawley, WA. 18-25 March, 2017

The Western Australian premiere of Heathers is playing to packed houses at WAAPA. This year’s Final Year Music Theatre students are outstanding in this very black musical based on the 1980s cult film.

Set on a bright and breezy gymnasium set by Kelly Freegon, colourfully lit by Kristie Smith and featuring powerfully 80s costumes in bright hues, designed by Kaitlin Brindley, the look of the show is strikingly juxtaposed with the dark themes of bullying, teen suicide and high school massacres, incidents of date rape, substance abuse and depression.

My Fair Lady

By Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. John Frost / Opera Australia. QPAC Lyric Theatre, Brisbane. 19 March - 30 April, 2017, t.hen on tour.

Ever since I was a child I enjoyed theatrical visual extravaganzas and thanks to dedicated, passionate producers like John Frost we are lucky we're still able to view some of these timeless classics of musical theatre. Coupled with the spectacle of this stunning revival of the original 1956 production is of course a superb memorable score and adaptation of Shaw's Pygmalion, and it's inspiring to see how this musical version brought the play to life despite Shaw's chagrin at musical transformations of his plays and his subsequent prevention.

Faster

The Australian Ballet. Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre. 17 to 27 March, 2017

The Australian Ballet presents its programme of three contemporary ballets under the banner Faster and shows us both the strengths and weaknesses of the company in sharp silhouette.

It’s a long while since I have seen the company so full of vitality and energy. The core physical strength of the dancers is the greatest asset of this programme, juxtaposed with the infuriating inability to dance in unison as an ensemble.

Chimerica

By Lucy Kirkwood. Sydney Theatre Company. Roslyn Packer Theatre. February 29 – April 1, 2017

Just when old talk of human rights in China is being upstaged by what fake news Trump is tweeting, comes this chilling epic returning us to the brutal putdown of the Tiananmen Square student protests. 

Lucy Kirkwood’s play follows an American photojournalist trying decades later to find what happened to the young Chinese man who, with his plastic bags of shopping, defiantly stood down those tanks in 1989.

Richard 3

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Sydney Opera House, 25 February – 1 April: Canberra Theatre Centre, 6 – 15 April, Arts Centre Melbourne, 20 April – 7 May, 2017

There’s only one meaty role to speak of in Richard III.  It’s all about him – or rather her – as it is in this Bell Shakespeare production which stars Kate Mulvany as the crooked monarch.

The four female roles of dispossessed queens and widows must be content with endless lines of rage and grieving, while the men play a quick parade of miscalculating nobles and henchmen doomed to a bloody end.

The Age of Bones

By Sandra Thibodeaux. Performing Lines/Teater Satu/Satu Bulan Theatre. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. March 22 – 25, 2017

The rhythms of the sea pervade this tender but critically astute denunciation of one of our Immigration Department’s most shameful decisions – the jailing of 60 or more young Indonesian boys for working on asylum seeker boats. Darwin based playwright and poet Sandra Thibodeaux identified with the pain their mothers must have felt, especially when she realised their mothers thought their boys had been lost at sea.

Rules For Living

By Sam Holcroft. Red Stitch. Directed by Kim Farrant. 14th March – 16th April, 2017

A superb cast of fine actors manages to breathe life into a predictable farce that hangs by its fingernails on a writer’s device. Take that novelty away, and the play is more Ray Cooney than Alan Ayckbourn.

Some new playwrights make one long for the days of Harold Pinter, Joe Orton and the great Ayckbourn. All of these esteemed playwrights understood that comedy comes from the tragedy of the human condition and is bedded in truth.

An Evening of Jazz

Presented by Adelaide High School. Adelaide Fringe Festival. Spiegel Zelt at Gluttony, Rymill Park/Murlawirrapurka. 17 March, 2017.

It was an intriguing surprise to find the Adelaide High School Jazz Band performing as part of the Adelaide Fringe cabaret program; an opportunity too good for a reviewer to pass up. How would this music fare when experienced as part of a festival that is simply bustling and bursting with sights and sounds?

Aeon

By Lz Dunn. Presented by Arts House as part of Dance Massive. 17 – 19 March, 2017

Conceptualised and lead by Lz Dunn in collaboration with sound artist Lawrence English, choreographer Shian Law and dramaturg Lara Thoms, over an 18-month period the team worked across Australia, engaging local artists as co-performers. Dance Massive 2017 brought the show to Melbourne for three days from 17 to 19 March.

Rufus Wainwright

Prima Donna - a symphonic visual concert and Rufus does Judy. Festival Theatre. Adelaide Festival. 18th March 2017

As a novice to the talents of Rufus Wainwright, I arrived at the Festival Theatre not sure what to expect. On seeing a full house of excited attendees, my curiosity was piqued. What a joyous surprise was in store! Not only is Rufus Wainwright a talented and versatile artist, but he is a composer of modern contemporary music and of classical opera. The juxtaposition of presenting his opera Prima Donna, followed by excerpts from his Rufus does Judy show, was stark but uplifting, and reinforced that music as a language is universal in its many forms.

To keep up with the latest news and reviews at Stage Whispers, click here to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.