Reviews

DRACULA

By Bram Stoker. Adapted for the stage by Liz Lochhead. Adelaide Repertory Theatre. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. April 3-12, 2014.

The Adelaide Repertory Theatre is brave indeed to stage Dracula. It is the sort of production that, done well, can be wonderful. However, get it even slightly wrong and it can go badly awry. Adelaide Repertory Theatre would have been wise to heed the fact that amateurs need to leave it out of their repertoire unless they are prepared to invest in effects to help create the necessary atmosphere.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. Redcliffe Musical Theatre. Redcliffe Cultural Centre. 4 - 13 April 2014

The energy charge in this production is enough to light Redcliffe peninsula for a week.

Children of parents who were teens in the 70s and 80s were introduced to JCS through the parents’ record collection. Now they love it. Many of them are up on stage reviving that adrenaline rush of the rock’n’roll generation.

Gaypocalypse

Adam Richard. Part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Backstage Room, Melbourne Town Hall. 28 Mar – 20 Apr, 2014.

Adam Richard’s Melbourne Comedy Festival stand-up show is named Gaypocalypse, but it’s a bit of an empty threat. Mr Richard, who bills himself as “Australia’s first openly gay comedian”, was surprisingly restrained in his approach – the requisite references to sexual acts were few and far between, and the show was far tamer in this regard than its title might lead you to expect.

Searching for a Superhero

Des Dowling. Part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The Upstairs Lounge @ Hairy Little Sista. 27 Mar – 20 Apr, 2014.

A dyed in the wool “good Aussie bloke” comedian, Des Dowling pitches his shtick squarely at the straight men in the audience. Now 47 years old – and he emphasises the “old” – Mr Dowling claims to be unable to make sense of social media, the internet, mobile phones, computers in general, and much of the rest of the paraphernalia of contemporary society.

Warts & All

By Bruce Hoogendoorn. Long Run Theatre. Directed by Bruce Hoogendoorn Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre. 2–12 April 2014.

Seventeen-year-old Queenslander Simon, retreating at his grandmother’s house after an injury, gets more than he bargained for in the return of a deceased family member. This light-hearted tale of skeletons in the family closet, sometimes subtle, often straightforwardly funny, well paced and well articulated, has much to recommend it.

 

The Little Mermaid Jr

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Book by Doug Wright. Directed by Callum Hosking. Clayton Theatrette. 3-13 April, 2014

Leaving aside the obvious pride and adulation of the parents in the stalls (clearly the target audience), there are still some worthy things about this very ambitious production; the brilliant colours, director Callum’s vision for “under the Sea”; the little roller skate wheels in the heels of shoes so that it seemed the fish were gliding through water, and the fact that all the music is pre-recorded as part of the package, so we had lush orchestrations with strings rather than something less palatable.

 

The Bryce Is Right

Bryce Halliday. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Ruby’s Music Room. April 2 – 12, 2014.

Bryce Halliday is one talented performer. A terrific jazz pianist, he has a lovely tenor voice that moves easily into falsetto. A handsome young man, he had updated words to old songs and written some of his own, which all went down well.

Particular congratulations to the sound man, as every word was clearly heard.

Bryce also utilised a keyboard and computer for some songs, and got the music to loop back, so he was able to sing duets with himself. He also played sound bites from speeches made by various people he was talking about.

Don Quixote

Music: Ludwig Minkus. Libretto: Marius Petipa. Choreography: Gediminas Taranda after Marius Petipa. Imperial Russian Ballet Company. Concert Hall, QPAC. 4-5 April 2014 and touring the east coast of Australia.

Classical ballet in the grand Russian tradition doesn’t come much better than the Imperial Russian Ballet Company’s Don Quixote. Considered to be one of the most celebrated ballets by Marius Petipa and composer Ludwig Minkus, the work has remained a cornerstone of the classical ballet repertoire since its premiere in 1869.

Artistic Director Gediminas Taranda’s reinterpretation of Petipa’s original choreography has all the trademarks of Russian dance; strong and athletic, yet incredibly graceful and elegant.

Perplex

By Marius von Mayenburg. Translated by Maja Zade. Sydney Theatre Company. Wharf 1 Theatre. March 31 – May 3, 2014.

If you like theatre of the absurd, and accept that life is pretty absurd anyway, then you’ll love Perplex. On the other hand, if you’re fairly straight and just a little bit of a control freak, you might think it’s pretty silly. In either case, you’ll frown a little, wonder a little, maybe squirm a little – and probably laugh a lot. And either way, you’ll leave the theatre feeling a little … well, perplexed.

Johnny Castellano is MINE

By Emma Gibson. Presented by the Canberra Youth Theatre and The Street Theatre. Direction: Karla Conway. Performed by Alison Plevey. The Street Theatre (ACT). 3-12 April 2014

I found myself mesmerised by this production, based on the timeless themes of obsession, fantasy and rebellion. Gibson’s latest play concerns the uglier side of adolescent yearning, where childhood gives way to monstrous hormonal self-destructive drives. Throughout, sole performer Alison Plevey performed an intense contemporary dance of sinuous, muscular movements, with perfect control, continuously, in perfect synchronisation with Stephen Fitzgerald’s superb modernist sound design.

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