Reviews

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.

Glengarry Glen Ross

By David Mamet. Melbourne Theatre Company, The Sumner, Southbank Theatre (VIC). 5 July – 9 August 2014

This play is about: selling.  Fiercely competitive, testosterone-fuelled, live-or-die, dog-eat-dog selling.  Winning means bragging rights, (temporary) power and money.  Failure means emasculation and humiliation.  The ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ of the title is a housing development in the ‘mountains’ of Florida.  There are as yet no houses, only ‘views’.  In other words, it’s a con – but also, in this 1984 play by David Mamet, a device.  

Beauty and the Beast

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Book by Linda Woolverton. Packemin Productions. Parramatta Riverside Theatre. July 18 - August 2, 2014.

Half way through the first act my 10 year old daughter asked me whether this was a professional production? My answer was half professional – half community theatre. Some aspects however led to the confusion.

The scintillating leaping and tumbling dancers and the feast for the eyes dinner scene with golden dancing cutlery come to mind for starters. Both were of such a high standard that (save for the size of the theatre ) most members of the general public would find it difficult to separate the experience from a seat in a fully professional production.

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.

Lovers

By Brian Friel. The Irish Theatre Players. Directed by Mary Murphy, Bobby Greaney and Liam McDonald. The Irish Club, Subiaco, WA. 22-27 July 2014

The Irish Theatre Players (ITP), are in a state of renewal. They have recently replaced their entire committee and are looking forward to a bright future after some turmoil.

Their first show under the new guard is Lovers, a Brian Friel pairing of two complementary plays, set in 1967, Winners and Losers. In this production, the plays are directed by two different directors, with overall artistic direction by Mary Murphy.

 

Status

Directed by Cameron Menzies. Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne. 23 – 27 July.

Status is a confronting and provocative piece of theatre that presents real life stories exploring the social stigma faced by people living with HIV. The script has been drawn from interviews with HIV positive men and women as well as their friends, family and carers including medical professionals.

The 60 minute piece is performed by four actors – Kath Gordon, Matt Hickey, Will Conyers and Brigid Gallacher – each of whom play a range of different roles, illuminating the stories of a wide variety of people whose lives have been altered by HIV diagnosis.

First World White Girls

Music & Lyrics: Judy Hainsworth. Script: Judy Hainsworth & Kaitlin Oliver Parker. Judith Wright Centre Production. Director: Cienda McNamara. Sound Design/Sound Operator: Richard Parker. Arranger: James Dobinson. Shopfront, Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane. 23-26 July 2014

Judy Hainsworth and Kaitlin Oliver Parker are two funny First World White Girls. During sixty minutes of original songs and patter they riff on the problems of the First World as seen through the eyes of two ‘entitled Princesses.’ In fact “Entitled” is the name of one of the songs and sums up succinctly the attitude of these shallow young women who vent if a cup of coffee is too hot, they’ve forgotten their computer password, or they have a car with no I-pod connectivity.

Into The Woods

By Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Victorian Opera. Conductor: Benjamin Northey. Director: Stuart Maunder. Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. July 19 – 26, 2014

I have seen a couple of amateur productions of Into the Woods which were quite impressive, so I was interested to see what the professionals would do. Victorian Opera certainly stepped up to the mark.

Cranford

Adapted by Martyn Coleman from the novel by Mrs Gaskell. Directed by Ailsa Travers. Garrick Theatre, Guildford, WA. 10-26 July 2014

I must confess to being a closet fan of Cranford, both the novel by Mrs Gaskell and the BBC television series, so I was looking forward to Garrick Theatre's production. I was not disappointed, this production of the play adapted by Martyn Coleman, is absolutely lovely.

Briefs: One Act Play Season

Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport, Qld. 7 Plays, 5 Directors, 17 Performers. 17th – 19th July, 2014

Under the heading of Briefs, Gold Coast Little Theatre presented their Annual One Act Play Season.

This year’s offerings included 6 plays written especially this season and Lauri Wylie’s evergreen piece Dinner for One which is frequently shown on German Television.

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