Reviews

Higher & Higher

Conceived by Jamie Watt & Peter Laughton. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. August 12th to September 3rd, 2016

The Big Band sound has successfully been recreated for Spotlight’s production of Higher & Higher.

Conceived, written, directed, choreographed and performed by Jamie Watt and his associates, this “jukebox” musical of 55 hit songs was non-stop entertainment. With a cast of four female singers, plus Jamie; four backing singers and 6 dancers, this high-energy production will be one to remember for a long time.

Aladdin

Music by Alan Menken. Book by Chad Beguelin. Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin. Disney Theatrical Productions Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opening Night: August 11, 2016

It’s hard to get Australians to give standing ovations, but on opening night Aladdin got two, including an unheard of stand up half way through the first act.

What pushed the audience out of their seats was an extravagant song and dance routine when young Aladdin steps inside a cave filled with eye popping gold and treasure.

Letters to Lindy

By Alana Valentine. A Merringong Theatre Company Production. Directed by Darren Yap. Canberra Theatre Centre. 9-13 August 2016 and touring

Lindy Chamberlain did not murder her baby Azaria at the then Ayres Rock, but through the 80s and 90s many Australians took a vicious pleasure in the myth that she did. It was so strong and divisive an idea that thousands felt compelled to write to Mrs Chamberlain, with everything from death threats and accusations to support, and later, remorse.

Shadowland

Devised, choreographed and directed by Pilobulus, and their creative team. Arts Centre Melbourne. August 11 – 14, 2016, then touring nationally

Pilobulus brings a return season of its wonderful production Shadowland to Australia, and if the magic isn’t quite as elevating as last time, it’s probably because it’s the same show we saw two years ago, and so we know what to expect. Nevertheless, it’s a remarkable show and a surreal experience for anyone who hasn’t seen it before.

Tango Fire

Choreography by German Cornejo, Arts Centre Melbourne. August 10 – 14, 2016, then touring

There is something incredibly exhilarating in seeing any artist at the peak of their brilliance, and when there are ten of them, imbued with the fire and passion that is the Argentinian Tango, it would be difficult not to feel the adrenaline rush even sitting in the stalls. The passion is palpable; the excitement all embracing.

Biography: A Game

By Max Frisch. Bakehouse Theatre (S.A.). Aug 4-20th, 2016.

Swiss dramatist Max Frisch first published Biography: A Game in 1967 and by 1984 an English version was born. The play explores relationships and the decisions that define our lives.

For the first twenty minutes the script offers up no answers, but plenty of questions. What if we were given the chance to go back and rewrite passages of our lives? Many scenarios are tested throughout this play with surprising consequences.

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Presented by Canberra REP. Directed by Jordan Best. Theatre 3. 4 to 20 August 2016

Deft direction by Jordan Best, a brilliant sound design and excellent characterisation by the leads make Canberra REP’s Macbeth great to watch. Jenna Roberts’s Lady Macbeth is every bit as lustful, bloodthirsty and ruthless as you’d expect. Ms Roberts gives her character’s psychopathy a hypnotic quality. With distinctly different public and private personas, there’s nothing vulnerable about Lady Macbeth but at times she shows brief flashes of uncertainty and even surprise and a childlike delight at her own gall.

The Lord of the Flies

By William Golding, adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams. Director Sarah Christiner. Harbour Theatre, Camelot, Mosman Park, WA. 29 Jul - 7 Aug, 2016

It is a brave director that takes on a cast of tween and teen boys for their first full-length production, but The Lord of the Flies was a well-presented production with a healthy dose of testosterone and a king-hit of energy.

William Golding’s classic novel is brought to life on a bare-bones set on the tiny Camelot stage, but the cast of 11 to 19 year olds stampede throughout the auditorium, owning the space.

Once Upon a Mattress

Music: Mary Rodgers. Lyrics: Marshall Barer. Book: Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, Marshall Barer. Mousetrap Theatre, Redcliffe, Queensland. Director: Kurt A. Lurps. Musical Director: Theresa Kendall. 29 Jul – 13 Aug 2016.

Mousetrap Theatre’s audience had a right royal time at Once Upon a Mattress. They laughed at Carmen Heath’s waspish Queen Aggravain, giggled at David Scheiwe’s mute and lascivious King Sextimus, and cheered for Fay Richards as the moat-swimming Princess Winifred, better known at Fred. They didn’t seem to mind that most of the cast couldn’t sing, that the piano accompaniment stumbled along, or that the Princess lost her place in “Happily Ever After” and forgot the lyrics.

A Nest of Skunks

By James Balian and Roger Vickery. Collaborations Theatre. The Depot Theatre, Marrickville, NSW Aug 3 – 13, 2016.

This current show at the Depot Theatre in Sydney’s inner west echoes the sort of multicultural stories the respected company Sidetrack used to explore in the same theatre decades ago.  But this tale about hiding asylum seekers paints a far darker, dystopian picture of Australia today.

A short thriller set in a suburban safe house, this is a secretive world of surveillance and high penalties for anyone found housing escaped refugees. And so they work and whisper in volunteer cells deliberately having no knowledge of their comrades in other cells. 

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