Reviews

Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by Hugh Wheeler. New Theatre (NSW). Director: Giles Gartrell-Mills. Musical Director: Liam Kemp. Choreographer: Trent Kidd. November 18 – December 20, 2014.

Adapted from a blood and thunder melodrama, Sweeney Todd tells the tale of a barber, a former convict who returns to London from Australia bent on revenge for his unjust transportation, and proceeds slit the throats his customers, who are subsequently baked into pies by his accomplice Mrs Lovett.

Othello

By William Shakespeare. State Theatre Company of SA. Directed by Nescha Jelk. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide. November 14-30, 2014

This Othello successfully drags Shakespeare kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

The main action unfolds against a background of desert warfare, Victoria Lamb’s set and costume design chillingly evocative of battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The prevailing atmosphere of bleak desolation is enhanced by the nuanced mood-lighting of Geoff Cobham and the pounding force of Jason Sweeney’s techno-infused score.

Over The River and Through The Woods

By Joe DiPietro. Directed by Dexter Bourke. 1812 Theatre, Upper Ferntree Gully (Vic). 20th November -13th December, 2014.

In his programme notes, Director Dexter Bourke says, “Theatre is much more than a reflection of life, for me it is life itself, allowing ourselves to be more of ourselves than we would normally be.” It is with this understanding that he gives us a wonderful, funny and poignant production with a stellar cast who have a combined total of more than 350 years (by my calculations) of life experience, which they share lovingly with the audience.

Gasp!

By Ben Elton. Director: Wesley Enoch. QTC & Black Swan State Theatre. Playhouse, QPAC. 20 Nov – 7 Dec 2014.

Ben Elton’s Gasp! is a funny, satiric, non-PC laugh-fest.

Mining conglomerate Lockheart Industries are running out of things to rip out of the ground and come up with the idea to market ‘designer air.’ In an age where ‘designer water’ is marketed worldwide, it’s not such a stretch to imagine a scenario in the future where will have to pay to breathe.

The Les Robinson Story and Belle of the Cross

Sydney Independent Theatre Company. Old Fitz Theatre (NSW). Nov 18 – 29, 2014.

Sydney Independent Theatre Company has chosen a fitting program for its finale at the Old Fitzroy Theatre at Woolloomooloo – the revival of two short plays, both about unusual people, and both set in the colourful and historical precinct that SITCO has called home for over 30 of its productions.

God of Carnage

By Yasmina Reza. Directed by Leigh Barker. Next Step Productions. Chapel off Chapel. 19th – 29th November, 2014

Actor/Producer Leigh Barker makes his directorial debut with the much awarded black comedy God of Carnage, which must surely be one of the most produced shows in modern theatre. With a sure hand he pulls together four excellent performances from a highly skilled cast, allowing them enough freedom to explore comic business, without damaging the truth of the characters or the overall arc.

Farndale Avenue … A Christmas Carol

Written and composed by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jnr. Tambourine Mountain Little Theatre, Gold Coast. Director: Joan Stalker Brown. Nov 7th to 22nd, 2014.

The “girls” were at it again.... The members of The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Town’s Women Guild Dramatic Society decided to present Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol with the usual dysfunctional results.

Joan Stalker Brown obviously had a ‘ball’ at rehearsals with this odd assortment of characters in the hands of the 5 ‘well intentioned’ members of the Guild.

The talented cast of Laney McLean, Linda Simister, Sonia Wagstaff, Tony Hall and Steve Silansky between them, tackled 24 characters.

Tosca

By Giacomo Puccini. Yarra Opera. Conductor: Nigel McBain. Memorial Hall, Healesville (Vic) November 22 & 23, 2014.

I well remember the impressive Dido and Aeneas by the forerunner of Yarra Opera, so I was looking forward to this foray into Puccini. I was only partly satisfied.

The orchestra of less than twenty did very well. This particularly applied to the brass and woodwinds. There were a couple of keyboards to fill in for missing instruments and everything was quite tight until a couple of loose moments in Act 3.

Tom, Dick and Harry

By Ray and Michael Cooney. Adelaide Repertory Theatre. Nov 20 – 29, 2014

The Adelaide Repertory Theatre has chosen a ‘cracker’ of a comedy to finish the year off. Directing this British farce is veteran performer and award winning director Ian Rigney. Farce can be a challenge to direct as pace and timing are vital to the flow of the plot, but Rigney’s wealth of experience shows as this play rockets along from one side splitting gag to another.

Outward Bound

By Sutton Vane. KADS. Town Square Theatre, Kalamunda (WA). 14 Nov - 6 Dec, 2014

The original production of Outward Bound was the hit of the 1923 London theatre season, produced by author Sutton Vane, after producers shied away from its unusual subject matter.

It is an interesting concept. Initially, the story is ostensibly about seven passengers at sea, but we realise that they are aboard the SS Eternity and they are in fact bound for Heaven…or Hell.

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