Reviews

Don Giovanni

By Mozart. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. July 25 – August 30, 2014.

Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Shane Lowrencev bring an enormous amount of energy and comic relief to this rather dark and gloomy production of Mozart and Da Ponte’s musical morality tale. As Don Giovanni, Rhodes is everything the infamous rake should be: seductive, ruthless, manipulative, cruel … and terribly attractive!

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Kip Williams. Sydney Theatre. July 25 - September 27, 2014.

Double, double toil and trouble – sayeth the famous witches, and likewise with this hotly anticipated production of the Scottish play the question kept recurring - was it worth the trouble of turning the Sydney Theatre inside out?

The audience was shoe horned into a temporary seating structure on the stage – staring at the 900 empty seats.  Some of those slightly above average height reported a little discomfort at the squeeze.

 

Britney Spears: The Cabaret

Written and Directed by Dean Bryant. Musical Director Mathew Frank. Chapel Off Chapel – July 23 to August 10, 2014, then Hayes Theatre, Sydney from August 20 to September 7, and Parramatta Riverside Theatre on September 21.

In another world or era Christie Whelan Browne would be a Superstar with an entourage to keep the worshippers at bay. In fact, if Britney Spears had even half of Whelan Browne’s talent, she would rule the entertainment world. Browne’s seductive innocence over-rides Spears natural stupidity at every turn. She has a killer voice, looks sensational, and is one heck of an actress. Her portrayal of Britney is satirical but never cruel; her understanding of what was going on inside Britney as she spun out of control, gives depth and dimension to the character.

Green Screen

By Nicola Gunn / SANS HOTEL with collaboration from the cast. MTC Neon. Southbank Theatre, The Lawler. 24 July – 3 August 2014.

At the very end of Green Screen (and I don’t think I’m giving much away) some text is projected on a strip of, yes, green screen, like a surtitle.  The last sentence reads something like, ‘…there was a good feeling between us, even though nothing had happened.’  That statement pretty much covers what we’d seen – although, like so much else here, the very fact that ‘nothing had happened’ is exactly the point.  ‘Nothing happened’, it is implied, because human beings are inadequate to the task of saving

Purgatorio

By Ariel Dorfman. 5pound theatre and Attic Erratic. The Owl and the Pussycat, Richmond, Vic. July 23 – August 2, 2014.

All that is needed for fine theatre is a space to perform, a good text, a connected audience, and talented people on a quest for excellence. 5pound theatre and Attic Erratic have brought all those elements together for Purgatorio, by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, and the result is a stunning piece of theatre on a shoestring budget.

Gloria

By Elaine Acworth. Queensland Theatre Company. Bille Brown Studio. 19 July – 16 August 2014

Two premieres in successive nights – we are spoilt for excesses in Brisbane at present.

No spoiler alert needed to reveal Gloria is about a middle-aged woman struck down recently by a stroke and struggling through her diminished memory to make contact with a son she recalls abandoning for adoption before she took off to Europe to establish a reputation as a cabaret star.

Playing Sinatra

By Bernard Kops. St Jude’s Players (SA). St Jude’s Hall, Brighton. July 24-August 2, 2014

With its fine production of Bernard Kops’ disturbing drama, Playing Sinatra, Adelaide’s St Jude’s Players have proven that amateur theatre groups can create spine-chilling psychological ‘atmosphere’ just as effectively as the professionals, even without the technical resources to which the latter companies have access.

Ugly Mugs

By Peta Brady. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross. July 25 – August 23, 2014

Melbourne playwright and actor Peta Brady has also spent years working as an outreach worker amongst sex workers.  Her new play sharply captures that underbelly world with the same rough diamond bravado, wit and street poetry which Daniel Keene first brought to his disadvantaged characters two decades ago.  

Henry V

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Directed by Damien Ryan. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Perth WA 23-26 July, 2014, and touring.

Bell Shakespeare's Henry V is an astonishingly clever, amazingly tight production that highlights the importance of this less frequently performed Shakespeare play.

The season at Perth's Heath Ledger Theatre, in the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, is part of a thirty-two stop Australian tour that will wind-up at the Sydney Opera House in November.

 

Pale Blue Dot

By Kathryn Marquet. La Boite Theatre Company (Qld). Roundhouse Theatre 19 July – 9 August 2014

This play is a significant bump in the burgeoning local play-writing family.

It’s not quite there yet but promises greatness: Kathryn Marquet creates five memorable characters to engage us. She has a nifty style for creating engaging drama tempered with comedy.

She takes her title from the Earth photograph taken in 1990 from Voyager 1 at the edge of our solar system. Whatever your opinions about aliens, this play will challenge them. They are peripheral to the personal crises of the five central characters, but the possibility of their existence drives this story.

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