Reviews

Oriel

By Merrilee Moss. Directed by Kim Durban. Ghost Ensemble at La Mama Courthouse. 7 – 18 September 2016.

Many people will have forgotten or have never heard of Oriel Gray (1920 – 2003), the prolific playwright for the left-wing New Theatre and for radio station 2KY, all the way through to the ABCTV’s Bellbird.  Playwright Merrilee Moss wants us to leave the theatre asking, ‘Who is Oriel Gray – and why haven’t I heard of her before?’  I’d say she succeeds.

Blackbird

By David Harrower. Throwing Shade Theatre Company / Sydney Fringe. Off-Broadway Hub, Gehrig Lane, Annandale. September 6 – 10, 2016

A jewel of a two-hander, Blackbird by Scotland’s David Harrower made its mark around the world after its debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 2005.  It’s a revelatory showdown between Una and Ray.  She has tracked him down fifteen years after their brief relationship, back when he was 40 and she just 12 years old. 

Clinton the Musical

Book by Paul Hodge and Michael Hodge. Music and Lyrics by Paul Hodge. Black Swan State Theatre Company in association with the Perth Theatre Trust. Directed by Adam Mitchell. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia. 27 Aug - 11 Sep 2016

Clinton the Musical is the Australian Premiere of an Australian Musical about American politics. A polished and flashy production, it is being well received.

I have some reservations about this show. While no doubt entertaining, it seems an odd choice for our State Theatre Company. While it is wonderful to see fresh, new work - especially a musical, Clinton the Musical feels like a Fringe Show on steroids, and somehow feels wrong for this company in this venue.

First Date

Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Book by Austin Windberg. Pursued by Bear. Directed by Mark Taylor. Chapel off Chapel. Sept 1st-11th, 2016

Pursued by Bear continue their quest to outdo themselves with every new production, so it’s always a delight to see their shows, especially when one is an Australian Premiere.

First Date is a delightful (off) Broadway show with a witty and smart book by Austin Windberg, and songs by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, which won’t stretch you, but which add to the charm of the evening. An extra benefit is the transposing of the show from America to Fitzroy, so we know the urbanised Aussie accents are totally natural.

Our Land People Stories

Bangarra Dance Theatre at Arts Centre Melbourne. 1-10 September, 2016 – then touring.

Twenty seven years ago, when Bangarra was first formed, for some it was a novelty, an indulgent gesture to indigenous culture. Now, this world class and astonishing dance group have proved that their spirit and culture exist in tandem with extraordinary talent and commitment which is accessible across the world.

Battlers & Dreamers

By Romy Bartz & Erin Brookhouse. Director: Romy Bartz. Doll pARTS. Sydney Fringe Festival. The Shift and Redfern, Sydney. September 1 – 11, 2016

The Sydney Fringe Festival gets off to a strong start with this clever parody of 80s Aussie Soaps. You have to love the 80s: it’s the decade that just keeps giving when it comes to source material for comedy. And so we have Battlers & Dreamers, which joyfully lampoons Neighbours, Home and Away, Sons and Daughters, and anything else that was cringe-tastic on TV back then.

Legally Blonde Jnr.

Music and Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin, Book Heather Hach. National Academy of Performing Arts. Bicentennial Hall, Nerang, Gold Coast. Director: Lynn Dyer, Choreographer: Kim Reynolds. September 1 – 3, 2016.

The “Broadway Bound” class of NAPA presented a well rehearsed production of this popular musical. Lynn Dyer and Kim Reynolds have set a high standard over the years and this offering was no exception.

As the “Blonde Bombshell”, Chloe Finlay set and maintained the pace of the performance and was well-supported by Grady Rosvear, Aizha Poynton, Conor Putland, Starla Martineer and Rhys Field and the rest of the cast.

The ensemble worked extremely hard and their enthusiasm was infectious and both of the dogs in the show were well behaved.

Letters to Lindy

By Alana Valentine. York Theatre, Seymour Centre, NSW. September 2 – 10, 2016

Everyone thought they know the truth about Lindy Chamberlain.   I always thought she did it. 

Why we all had such a mass prejudicial obsession about her case – and all those casually brutal dingo jokes – is touched on in Alana Valentine’s new play Letters to Lindy.

Short + Sweet Canberra

Play Festival – Gala Final. Festival Director: Trevar Alan Chilver. Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra ACT. August 20, 2016

Short + Sweet is exactly as it’s named: plays that are no longer than 10 minutes. That concentrates the playwright’s mind marvellously, and spurs the director to ingenious solutions. The ten plays shown in the final are the best of a gruelling process over two weeks. Plays come from Canberra, local and interstate theatre companies, and one play from the USA.

Something’s Afoot

Book, Music & Lyrics: James McDonald, David Vos, Robert Gerlach; additional music by Ed Linderman. Directed by: Leah Venattacci and Robert Manion. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Playhouse, Hobart. 2- 17 September 2016

If you love a good murder mystery, Agatha Christie-style, a special treat is the hilarious whodunit Something’s Afoot. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society brings the spoof to the Playhouse Theatre for a good laugh to a good tune or two. Forget laugh-out-loud, this is guffaw-out-loud. How the cast didn’t crack up was a miracle – they certainly threw themselves into the silliness with energy and enjoyment.

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