Reviews

MELBA – A New Musical

By Nicholas Christo and Johannes Luebbers. Hayes Theatre Company and New Musicals Australia. August 11 – September 9, 2017.

Writer Nicholas Christo and composer Johannes Luebbers must be delighted with this production of the musical they have spent “eight years and countless drafts creating”.

Hir

By Taylor Mac. Belvoir. August 12 – September 10, 2017

American queer performance artist Taylor Mac has written a sharp comedy drama not just about transgender shifts but also wider transitions across the country in gender roles and masculine and working class identities.

US Marine Isaac, dishonourably discharged, returns to his fibro home to find his once alpha male Dad now stroke-ridden, the former plumber dressed in a nightie and the bad makeup of a clown.

Julius Caesar

Play by William Shakespeare. Director/Co-Designer: Jo Loth. Jo Loth Production. Events Centre, Caloundra, Qld. 17 – 19 Aug, 2017

Women playing traditional male roles in classical theatre are nothing new. Breeches roles have always been a staple of theatre, especially in opera and that most English of traditions pantomime. Even Shakespeare was not immune to creating roles where women disguise themselves as men. So, coming to this new all (mostly) female cast version of Julius Caesar is not asking an audience to make that great a leap of faith. The only question is does the gender-switch clarify or hinder the playwright’s original intent and in this case director Jo Loth has succeeded admirably.

Surprise Party with Jem and Dead Max

By Georgia Symons. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton (VIC). 16-27 August 2017

Here’s a show that kicks off with balloons, party poppers and a big sign saying ‘Happy 21st Birthday’.  Jem (Anna Kennedy) is giving a surprise party for Max (Christian Taylor) and the audience is included as guests.  When Max arrives, we all shout ‘Happy Birthday, Max!’  And he’s surprised to see us.  But he is thrilled that Jem is throwing him a party.  What is a little unusual about this is that Max is dead, killed in a motorcycle ‘accident, (so that he has some token streaks of blood on his face).  That&r

Dracula

Adapted by Nelle Lee & Nick Skubij. Based on the novel by Bram Stoker. Director: Michael Futcher. Shake & Stir. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 17 August – 2 September, 2017 2017

Bodies, blood and chills haunt Shake and Stir’s creepy melodramatic adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic-horror novel. In recent years we’ve not been short of vampires on the small or big screen; Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries and Buffy, but Stoker’s original is the gold-standard and Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij keep closely to it in their lean storytelling.

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

Miranda Musical Society. Parramatta Riverside Theatres, August 10 to 13, 2017 and Mittagong Playhouse, August 17 – 19.

… Or to be more precise, alive in Parramatta and Mittagong, thanks to Miranda Musical Society’s very professionally performed production. Deftly and economically directed by Geraldine Turner, the performers invoke the wide span of themes and emotions Brel managed to write about in his relatively short life – he died in 1978 at the age of 49.

The Last of the Summer Wine

By Roy Clarke. 1812 Theatre. Director: Pip Le Blond. 3rd August to 26th August, 2017

The 1812 Theatre tackle another television to stage adaptation in their season this year – this time it is the Australian premiere of timeless UK sit-com Last of the Summer Wine, where we see Foggy, Clegg and Compo being reunited for one last riotous and farcical adventure.

From 1983 to 2010, the TV sit-com written by Roy Clarke was set and filmed in and around Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, England, and centered on a trio of old men and their youthful misadventures;

Holding the Man

By Tommy Murphy, based on Timothy Conigrave’s memoir. Lane Cove Theatre Company. Director: Kathryn Thomas. The Performance Space @ St Aidan's, Longueville. August 11 – 25, 2017.

In a week where marriage equality dominated the national news, the vandalizing and removal of posters for Lane Cove Theatre Company’s production also made the news in the lead up to opening night.

The sensitive, real-life rites-of-passage story of two young gay men, from teenagers in a Catholic Boys School in the 1970s through the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic and young lives cut short, is based on central character Timothy Conigrave’s own memoir.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

By Edward Albee. National Theatre Live. Nova Cinema, Carlton and participating cinemas nationwide. Opening Saturday 19 August 2017.

This National Theatre Live revival (if that’s the word) of Edward Albee’s famous 1962 play features a stellar cast: Imelda Staunton as Martha, Conleth Hill as George, Imogen Poots as Honey and Luke Treadaway as Nick.  Any production of this play, however, can’t help but aspire to escape the memory of the 1966 movie adaptation (by Ernest Lehman) for which director Mike Nichols had the inspired idea of casting Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  Comparisons may be odious, but in this case, they are rather inevitable.

Pink Floyd’s - The Wall

Music & Lyrics: Roger Waters. Pannic Productions. Director: Andrew ‘Panda’ Haden. Musical Directors: Jason Zadkovich, Grace Cockburn, Kym Brown. Choreographers: Mike Lapot, Melissa Budd, Drew de Kinderen. Redcliffe Cultural Centre, 11-13 August 2017

Top of the range audio visuals and superb musical backing were the stars of Pannic Productions’ version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. In fact they were so good I could have gladly sat in the theatre and just watched them and listened to the music. With three LED screens at the rear of the stage with forever changing images and a multitude of coloured lights, the iconic rock album was brought vividly to life.

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