Reviews

Forbidden Broadway

By Gerard Alessandrini. Blackwood Players. July 31 – August 15, 2015.

Forbidden Broadway is the brainchild of playwright and lyricist Gerard Alessandrini. A musical parodying musicals sounds like a lot of fun, but in order for a production like this to be successful, it is important that the characters, celebrities and musicals they are emulating be convincing and given that the humour derived from a parody is the lyrics, those words must be understood. Director Martin Barbary has brought together a host of Blackwood regulars with varying degrees of talent.

Slammed

By Stefanie Brooke Harper. Crossstown Artists. Director: John Peek. Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, 23 July – 1 August, 2015

Ripped straight from the headlines, Slammed is a docu-drama about high-school bullying. The play follows a group of students as they battle their way through Year 10 and the effects of bullying, both internet and physical, which have tragic consequences.

We have often been told to write what we know and Stephanie Brooke Harper, a former high-school teacher, has certainly done that. Across a series of short, sharp, scenes with occasional soliloquies, Harper sketches in the brutal and confronting world that faces high-school students today.

Blonde Poison

By Gail Louw. Old Fitzroy Theatre, Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo. 28 July - 15 August 2015

A beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jewish woman gets the opportunity mid-WWII to save herself and her beloved parents from extermination. The catch? Send fellow Jews to the concentration camps in her place. She was called Blonde Poison because Stella Goldschlag had the kiss of death. She stalked the streets of Germany to rat on her own friends, colleagues and neighbours.

Everyman

Adapted by Carol Ann Duffy. Directed by Rufus Norris. National Theatre Live. Participating cinemas across Australia from August 8.

One of the oldest English dramas (hailing from the 15th century), Everyman has been adapted by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy for this National Theatre production, recorded in hi-def video as part of the NT Live series and presented in cinemas nationally by Sharmill Films. It’s a remarkable piece of theatre that manages to be both contemporary and timeless – a morality play that has much to say about the hollowness of consumer culture and the ultimate pointlessness of accumulating material wealth when, as we all know, you can’t take it with you.

The Tales of Hoffmann

1951 Film restored by David Stratton. Cinema Nova, Carlton (Vic). August 8 – 18, 2015

The restored, the iconic film 1951 film of Offenbach’s only opera, The Tales of Hoffmann. This was an iconic film being the first opera filmed in colour and the first to be filmed as a film, rather than a recording of a live performance. So we had actors, or dancers, featured on[JG1] the film with others singing the roles.

The Long Red Road

By Brett C Leonard. Human Sacrifice Theatre Company. Fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 30 July – 9 August, 2015.

The Long Red Road is a play that sneaks up on you and finally grabs you by the throat.  At first, you don’t know what the hell is going on.  Somewhere in Kansas, a bitter mushroom farmer, Bob (Lee Mason), worn down and soured by duty, has a fractious relationship with Sandra (Marissa O’Reilly), a woman crippled in both her legs.  Her defiant daughter, Tasha (Angelica Angwin) tells Bob she hates him.  Seven hundred miles away, on or near a Lakota tribe reservation, self-destructive alcoholic Sam (Mark Diaco) drinks himself into oblivion in a bar run b

Reckless Valour

QL2 Dance. The Playhouse, Canberra. 29 July – 1 August, 2015

Revisiting the original, 2005, production of Reckless Valour, QL2, its artistic director, Ruth Osborne, and four more of the original roll of choreographers —Natalie Cursio, Jodie Farrugia, Fiona Malone, and Rowan Marchingo — as well as James Batchelor, a young dancer in the original work, have choreographed the work anew, with fresh restructuring under the guidance of dramaturg Paschal Danto Berry.

The Untouchable Juli

By Brenna Lee-Cooney, adapted from the novel by James Aldridge. Elysium Theatre presentation of a Fractal Theatre Production. Director: Brenna Lee-Cooney. Sandgate Town Hall, Brisbane. 30-31 July 2015

Outcasts or social misfits have never fared well in Australian society, or any society for that matter, and even worse in small-town Australia of the 1930s. This is the setting of Brenna Lee-Cooney’s play based on James Aldridge’s The Untouchable Juli, one of his six St Helen’s novels that include My Brother Tom and A Sporting Proposition which became the Disney movie Ride a Wild Pony.

The Last Five Queers

Music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, adapted and with a new story by Adam Noviello & Madi Lee. For the Midwinta Festival, Butterfly Club, Melbourne CBD. 28 July to 9 August 2015.

Five performers and a pianist present a radically reimagined version of Jason Robert Brown’s original music theatre show, The Last Five Years.  Adam Noviello and Madi Lee have taken the music, adapted some of the lyrics and ‘repurposed’ others, roped in a song or two from elsewhere (you’ll recognise a few) and created a very different scenario: the interwoven stories of five characters, three men and two women.  The performers and director Leanne Marsland make clever use of the club’s bare and tiny stage; the only props are five stools.

Happy Days

By Samuel Becket. Queensland Theatre Company. Billie Brown Studio, Brisbane. Directed by Wesley Enoch. 18th July - 15th August, 2015

QTC's version of Becket's famous play is in town, this production having an interpretation with a distinctively Australian feel. First impressions to set the mood are an eerie score in the foyer by Alan Lawrence followed by a design by Penny Challen with, firstly, a stage curtain depicting the Australian landscape, a painting by artist John Glover, followed by a surreal set influenced by contemporary artists like Drysdale and Nolan: all combined to create an expression of the bleak and desolate 'entrapment' of the central character, Winnie.     

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