Reviews

Nought Point Five Above Zero - No Wind

By Maria Kilpi, translated from the Finnish by David Hackston. Nordic Noir Season at La Mama, Carlton (VIC). 21-31 July 2016.

Laura comes by bus from Helsinki to spend Christmas with her long widowed Mummi (grandmother) in Mummi’s small town.  The weather is, of course, cold, hovering just above and just below zero.  It’s better when there’s no wind.  Laura (Sophia Riozzi), a stiff, pale young woman, appears tense, preoccupied, even faintly hostile.  We might wonder why she’s come.  It is mere duty?  Tiny, bird-like Mummi (Shirley Cattunar) seems to be the only family she has.

A Chorus Line

Music: Marvin Hamlisch. Lyrics: Edward Kleban. Book: James Kirkwood, Nicholas Dante. Savoyards. Director: Shelley Quinn. Musical Director: Ben Murray. Choreographer: Sue Harvey. Star Theatre, Manly, Brisbane. 15 - 23 July 2016

A Chorus Line is about the “C” word – commitment – and that’s what Savoyards had in spades in their version of this Broadway classic about a group of dancers who put their talent and their lives on the line for a job in the chorus. No one could doubt the company’s level of commitment in dance, song and acting.

 

God of Carnage

By Yasmina Reza. Pymble Players (NSW). July 20 – August 13, 2016

When one 10 year old boy hits another with a stick in a park in Paris, their parents agree to try to settle the matter amicably. As any parent – and playwright Yasmina Reza – knows, such encounters can be a little hazardous! From a strained but polite beginning, the tenor of the meeting declines until the behaviour of the boys is almost forgotten as tempers rise, accusations fly and etiquette is forgotten.

Edges: A Song Cycle

Music: Justin Paul. Lyrics: Benj Pasek. Understudy Productions. Director: Ian Good. Musical Director: Dominic Woodhead. Metro Arts, Brisbane. 20-23 July 2016

Edges: A Song Cycle was the first chance for Brisbane audiences to hear the work of Justin Paul and Benj Pasek, and although it showed the potential these two young American musical theatre writers would later achieve with their Dogfight and A Christmas Story scores, Edges was the work of two writers still in their embryonic stage. Written when they were 19 the cycle of songs were all about middle-class American youth coming-of-age and finding and losing love.

Suor Angelica

By Giacomo Puccini. Canberra Opera. Directed by Stephanie McAlister. Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest ACT. July 15 – 24, 2016.

This short opera is a little jewel of early 20th century opera, with melodies hearkening back to rich romanticism, and daring chromaticism used sparingly and with significant intent. It is the second part of Puccini’s triptych of operas (Il Trittico).  It is heartening to know that it is also appreciated by Canberra Opera who have chosen it for their 2016 production, held in the charming Wesley Uniting Church in Forrest, ACT.

The Marriage of Figaro

By Mozart. OAonTour. Director/Adaptor/Translator: Michael Gow. Conductor: Paul Fitzsimon. Drum Theatre, Dandenong, July 15 and 16, and touring nationally in 2016

OAonTour is the touring arm of Opera Australia. They have had a touring arm forever, bringing opera to the far reaches of this large country. Usually they perform with no chorus and minimalist sets.

This was different.

There was a small orchestra, but more importantly, a choir from a local primary school. What a great idea! The Marriage of Figaro has little to involve the chorus, and these young people got their opportunity to shine and to experience opera and hear some magnificent voices at very close range. This is an experience they will never forgot.

Witches

Concert featuring the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and four leading ladies with Ben Lewis. Sydney Opera House. July 15 and 16, 2016

Helen Dallimore, Lucy Durack, Amanda Harrison and Jemma Rix provided enough soaring musical theatre moments to lift the audience to its feet after the finale when they sang Defying Gravity as a quartet. They were not hoisted in the air, as happens in the musical Wicked, but their fans were.

The first outing for this concert presentation though was not without its turbulence. The four divas entered the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House looking sparkling but the opening numbers were on the low-key side.

Drift

By Tara Clark and Kieren Foster. Two Peas. ATYP, Wharf 4/5, Walsh Bay. July 20 – 30, 2016.

Two Peas productions aims to nurture new and emerging artists. Drift is the work of two young co-writers, Tara Clark and Kieran Foster, and a cast of six young actors who are making their names in the Sydney arts scenes.

Cain and Abel

By Kate Davis, Emma Valente & Dana Miltins. The Rabble. At The Substation, Newport (VIC). 20-30 July 2016.

Cain and Abel: the Biblical, archetypal figures of fraternal conflict.  A story, say this show’s creators in their program notes, that has gone ‘beyond its religious beginnings… [and] has defined our contemporary understanding of violence’.  This very bloody production seeks to question stereotypes and the roots of masculine violence. 

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Director: Chris Hamley. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. 15- 30 July 2016

In his reimagining of Macbeth, director Chris Hamley was inspired by elements of Japanese culture. He chose to feature live Taiko drummers, samurai-like warriors, ninja-like murderers, a geisha-like Lady Macbeth and five witches, creating a creepy and action packed Macbeth. These commanding and decisive new elements, especially the initial impact of the Taiko drumming, set the tone of menace and danger. Drum interludes, scene and act changes were riveting to watch and hear.

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