Reviews

Ladies Night

By Anthony McCarten & Stephen Sinclair. Jally Entertainment production. Gardens Theatre, Brisbane. 21-22 June 2016 and touring.

Ladies Night has an impressive record - eight sold-out tours of the UK, a Moliere Prize (France’s premiere award for comedy), and translations into sixteen languages. It is without doubt New Zealand’s most commercially successful play.

If you feel you’ve seen the plot before, you have - The Full Monty ripped it off in 1997 - but it’s still a funny concept - four unemployed blokes, motivated by The Chippendales, form a male-strip show to make some money.

Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution

By Agatha Christie. Canberra Repertory Society. Directed by Aarne Neeme AM. Theatre 3, Acton. 16 June – 2 July, 2016

I thought my glasses had misted, but then I realised: in an attempt to recreate an authentic London atmosphere not just the stage but the entire auditorium was filled with fog. This device sets the tone for REP’s Witness for the Prosecution, a respectful recreation of the play as Christie envisioned with emphasis on commentary on the social prejudices of the time, but not without a wry nod to the more ridiculous elements.

Closer

By Patrick Marber. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth, WA. Directed by Trevor Dhu. June 10-25, 2016

Old Mill Theatre’s matinee audiences are typically very mature, but Closer, by Patrick Marber, billed ‘for mature audiences’ may have been a little surprising in its content, judging from the whispered buzz in the auditorium.

The show’s poster has already sparked some controversy for its explicit nature, being discussed on radio station 6PR and 6PR’s Facebook page, causing observer John Nicholls to remark, “It’s not my Mum’s Old Mill. Where’s the vicar? Where are the delightful misunderstandings?”

Vicar of Dibley

Stage play written by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter adapted from the original TV series by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer. Presented by: John X & Graeme Paine. Directed by: Ingrid Ganley. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart . 17 June -2 July 2016

When choosing The Vicar of Dibley for stage, directors are under pressure to recreate exactly the recognisable TV characters, stories and jokes. Hobart Director Ingrid Ganley, for John X and Graeme Paine, had a good cast who gave us what we expected to see from the oft-repeated TV program.

Di Richards, a well-known singer with enormous stage presence, filled the role of Geraldine admirably, although a little breathily. Despite his natural pleasantness, Paul Levett (David Horton) competently brought off the acerbic nastiness of the TV David.

Away

By Michael Gow. ARENAarts. Directed by Christine Eliis. LC Theatre, Belmont, WA. June 10-25, 2016

ARENAarts are presenting Michael Gow’s Away - a classic Australian play that has appeared on the WA Drama and English curriculums.

A 30th Anniversary production, it endeavours to capture the essence of a trip away in the Australian summer, not an easy feat in June, in one of Perth’s coldest theatres - but they do well in creating atmosphere.

Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris

Music: Jacques Brel and Others. Lyrics: Jacques Brel. Translation by Mort Shuman & Eric Blau. Director Geraldine Turner. Musical Director: Mark Cranston Reid. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland School of Arts. June 17 – 25, 2016.

If you know Brel and this show then go see this. If you’ve never heard of Brel (or this show) then GO! SEE! THIS!

I cannot rave enough about this production. It was like watching a master class, and those of us (me included) who think we can direct, md, sing, act, light, sound, costume, and design sets will doubt our abilities after watching this show.

First some background. Confirming that only good things come from Belgium, Jacques Brel was a Flemish poet and songwriter who rose to prominence in the 50s and 60s.

Love & Death: The Songs Of Jim Steinman

Written by Toby Francis. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Directed by Neil Gooding. Festival Centre, Adelaide. June 18-19 2016

Though his name is not universally recognised, the songs of Jim Steinman are touchstones of the epic rock genre – praised and reviled in equal measure for their grandiose theatricality and wild, unhinged passion.

Carmen

By Georges Bizet. Opera Australia. Director: John Bell. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. June 16 – August 12, 2016

By transporting this production of Carmen to “somewhere resembling today’s Havanna”, director John Bell and his design team bring the opera into a setting that heightens the heat and spirit of the story, and takes the music of the famous “Habanera” back to its country of origin.

Return to the Forbidden Planet

By Bob Carlton (Based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest). Players Theatre, Ballina. Directors: Clem and Shelly Halpin. June 17-July 3, 2016

Ballina Players have another hit on their hands with their production of the Juke Box musical Return to the Forbidden Planet, a double Olivier Award winning show for Best Musical in the West End in 1989 and 1990.

Clem and Shelly Halpin have woven their magic once again in this tribute to Rock and Roll music with a stellar cast dodging meteorites in their intrepid space ship.

TwentySixteen

Circus Oz (Vic). Artistic Director: Rob Tannion. Lighting Designer: Paul Jackson. Musical Director: Ania Reynolds. The Big Top on Birrarung Marr. 15 June-10 July, 2016

Circus Oz aficionados of all generations were out in force on opening night at Birrarung Marr, so much so that the pre and post-show gatherings resembled a family reunion.

As the show proceeded, we were swung in some kind of moody stupor, slightly unhinged, winging between vignettes of every colour and mood. Spellbinding grace rides a unicycle, undresses while standing on another’s head, and balances innumerable small red balls. Brassy spectacles are in-your-face on all things that bend or swing or stack, and slap-sticky satire brings us back to earth with a chortle.

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