Reviews

The Chosen

By Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok, adapted from the novel by Chaim Potok. Moira Blumenthal Productions and Encounters@Shalom. Shalom College, University of NSW. August 27 – September 14, 2014.

Razor sharp minds debate the intricacies of Talmudic scriptures weaving spiritual numerology into the mix. Ultra-orthodox Jews compete with observant Jews on the baseball field.  Zionists wrestle with non-Zionists.

How could such a play have resonance outside the Jewish community you may ask?  And yet the Catholic couple I spoke to after this production said they were hooked almost immediately.

The Sublime

By Brendan Cowell. Melbourne Theatre Company. Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio. 22 August to 4 October 2014

The lights run across the stadium, the music comes up to deafening – and the game begins.  Three super-charged, stop-at-nothing actors run on.  The Sublime is a confrontational play about sport, violence and celebrity.  Dean is a star AFL player: disciplined, prodigiously skilled – but does he take himself a little too seriously?  His tear-away, high-spirited, crass-but-somehow-charming younger brother Liam is a rising League player in Sydney.  The season’s over and Liam and his team are off to Thailand for some R&R.  At their Mum

The Dream

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare Company. Directed by Peter Evans. Canberra Theatre Centre, 29 August – 13 September; Melbourne Arts Centre, 18 September – 4 October & Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong 8 October, – 11 October, 2014

Director Peter Evans effectively strips the Midsummer out of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, appropriately rebranding the result The Dream. Anything that was lush, green, flamboyant, long-winded, flowery, tenuous or over-the-top has got the chop, giving a feel that if not actually black certainly gives emphasis to darkness and nuances of mystery and mood that you don’t always see in a Midsummer production. This effect is heightened by judicious restructuring.

Spike Heels

Written by Theresa Rebeck. Q44 Theatre Co. and Crazy Chair Productions. Directed by Gabriella Rose-Carter. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). August 27th-Sept 14th, 2014.

A script full of sophisticated witty one-liners, plus a serious subtext, four terrific performances from a highly skilled cast, a director who really knows her stuff, and perhaps the most audience friendly theatre space in Melbourne at Chapel off Chapel (great coffee, a good bar and fabulous leather lounges and designer chairs) make a convincing argument for putting Spike Heels right at the top of your theatre list for the next few weeks. Though this is only Q44’s third show, it’s proving to be a company which sets a high bar in excellence for itself.

Red Rabbit, White Rabbit

By Nassim Soleimanpour. Perth Theatre Company Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA. 2 - 12 Sep 2014

Red Rabbit, White Rabbit is a fascinating show written by Iranian theatre maker Nassim Soleimanpour. Featuring a different actor each evening, the performer is handed the script on stage at the beginning of the performance.

Opening night featured Sam Longley. A respected actor and renowned improviser, he was comfortable with the audience and delivered an excellent performance. His delivery was lovely, he does a brilliant cold read, and it was clear that he was as surprised as the audience with the plot twists.

Rabbit Hole

By David Lindsay-Abaire. Villanova Players. Director: Andrew Heron. The Theatre, Morningside TAFE, Brisbane, 29 August – 13 September, 2014

Rabbit Hole is a very good and well-written contemporary play on a subject we have seen frequently dramatised on TV - how a family deals with the accidental death of a child. In fact the subject is common fodder for the nightly news programs and tabloid journalism. But playwright David Lindsay-Abaire’s take on it is non-exploitative, taking us inside the characters’ grief and how each of them cope with it in different ways.

13

Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn. Directed by Debbie Keyt. Beaumaris Theatre. Aug 22 - Sept 6, 2014

What a sheer delight this show is. Jason Robert Brown’s catchy pop score coupled with clever and witty lyrics together with a strong book and the novelty of an all teenage cast are elements that Director Debbie Keyt has capitalised on to make this colourful production a resounding sucess.

True, on the day I saw the show the sound system suffered a technical meltdown which the operator was powerless against, but the cast ploughed on, determined to give their all, and by the time the sound was perfected in the second half, we had all well and truly been won over.

The Gondoliers

Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan. Libretto by Sir William Gilbert. South Australian Light Opera Society Inc. Director: Pam Tucker. Musical Director: Helen Loveday. Tower Arts Centre, Pasadena. 28-31 August, 2014.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas (or the best of them, at any rate) have survived the passage of time in remarkably fine shape, as demonstrated by this delightful production. The practitioners of SALOS have once more succeeded at putting good vibes and talented performers on their stage, with the end result being a thoroughly satisfied audience, and a reputation that deserves to grow ever more esteemed.

Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport. Director: James Anderson. August 30th – September 20th, 2014

It’s a shame that more Shakespeare is not included in Community Theatre playbills. James Anderson’s production has assembled a great 15 member cast for this tale of the star-crossed lovers. Jack Harbour and Stephanie Toft take the title roles and are supported by some of the Coast’s most experienced performers:  Tara Page, Noel Thompson, Kate McNair and Joel Beskin leading a worthy band of players.

The production had pace, action and emotion.

Swan Lake

Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Choreography by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. American Ballet Theatre. Queensland Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Ormsby Wilkins. Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane. 28 August 2014.

On their first ever visit to Australia, the American Ballet Theatre proved last night why they are considered one of the best ballet companies in the world with an outstanding production of Swan Lake. In every respect it was an artistic triumph. The opulent settings and costumes, the glorious music, and the finest of classical dance, this was a Swan Lake that feasted the eye and indulged the senses.

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