Reviews

Caucasian Chalk Circle

By Bertolt Brecht. Black Swan State Theatre Company of WA / National Theatre of China. Directed by Dr. Wang Xiaoying. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA, Northbridge, WA. 30 July - 14 Aug, 2016

Lion Dancers and drummers greeted the opening night audience for Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company, in collaboration with the National Theatre of China. A play based on an ancient Chinese legend, retold by a German playwright and performed by Australian actors in a fusion of Brechtian and Chinese style, this international fusion made for a fascinating production.

Lest We Forget

In the Best Moments – Choreographer: Ma Cong. We Who Are Left – Choreographer: Natalie Weir. Company B – Choreographer: Paul Taylor, Staged by Richard Chen See. Queensland Ballet. Playhouse, QPAC. 29 Jul – 6 Aug 2016

Excellence is on show at the Playhouse. Once again the Queensland Ballet has shown how far they have come in five short years under the artistic leadership on Li Cunxin. Dancing better than ever, this young company’s talent was put to the test time and time again in their latest program Lest We Forget, a triple bill of dance works themed on the effects of war.

Shirley Valentine

By Willy Russell. KADS. Directed by Jodi Cant. KADS Town Square Theatre, Kalamunda, WA. 8-30 July, 2016

As the curtain closed on Shirley Valentine, presented by KADS, a significant proportion of the audience remained in their seats, calling “Encore!” and “Shirley!” It was the first time that I had experienced that in Community Theatre in Perth, and is testament to the level of enjoyment experienced in the capacity audience.

Actress Jenny Howard McCann was a delightful choice to bring this iconic single hander to life. She makes a lovely Shirley, quickly establishing an easy rapport in this intimate theatre, giving Shirley warmth and familiarity.

Trevor

By Nick Jones. Directed by Denis Moore. Red Stitch Theatre, St Kilda. 29th July – 26th August, 2016.

Bravo Red Stitch! No other theatre company brings us contemporary plays, never seen before in Australia, with such depth and scope. Trevor is a delight from start to finish – though there will be some who fear that the ending might be that of the true story that inspired the play, where a pet chimp named Travis went rogue and mutilated its owner.

The Mill On The Floss

Adapted from the novel by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) by Helen Edmundson. OpticNerve Performance Group. Theatre Works, Acland Street, St Kilda (VIC). 28 July – 13 August 2016.

On a bare stage, eight actors, dressed simply in white, skirts for the women, grey jackets for the men, play fourteen clearly demarcated characters.  With these apparently – but only apparently – simple means, director Tanya Gerstle brilliantly creates a contemporary interpretation of a much loved, classic 19th century novel.  We are in Lincolnshire, we are back in the 19th century at a mill on the (fictitious) River Floss.  A bright, curious, highly intelligent and adventurous nine-year-old, Maggie Tulliver (Maddie Nunn), reads vora

The Beast

By Eddie Perfect. Directed by Simon Phillips. Ambassador Theatre Group. Sydney Opera House, July 27 - August 14, 2016; Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, August 25 – September 4; QPAC, Brisbane, September 15 – 18.

At first blush it felt like Eddie Perfect had bitten off more than he could chew. The Beast is black comedy which starts on a fishing expedition gone wrong, where desperate hungry friends eye off their recently departed skipper, then shifts to the worst middle class dinner party imaginable, brim full of pretention.

Wicked

Music & Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz. Book: Winnie Holzman. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. Packemin Productions. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. July 29 – August 13, 2016

Packemin’s production of the Stephen Schwartz musical spectacle Wicked was an incredible night of theatre. The theatre’s foyer was abuzz, waiting for the doors to open; everyone waiting to witness what the group would deliver with this magical musical.

Beirut Adrenaline

By Hala Ghosn and Jalie Barcilon. Théâtre Excentrique. Directed by Anna Jahjah. Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney.July 28 – Aug 14, 2016

On the opening night of Beirut Adrenaline, a play about the Lebanon war in the 1980s, a speaker from the Australian Lebanese Historical Society gave an introductory talk. She spoke about the play’s resonance for Lebanese Australians, many of whom migrated here during this civil war. Her speech immediately put the play in an Australian context and highlighted the direct links with our lives today. The potential is clear.

Equus

By Peter Shaffer. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Director: Brenda White. 30 Jul – 3 Sep 2016

Peter Shaffer’s Equus was the cause celebre of the seventies. It was the play that turned the Schubert Organization fortunes around when it premiered on Broadway and made a star of Anthony Hopkins, and it became infamous for the shock of having a young man naked on stage at a time when puritan values were still in existence.

Three Sisters

By Anton Chekhov. Sport For Jove. Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre (NSW). July 28 –August 13, 2016.

The plot may be simple – three sisters pine to return to Moscow, but they don’t.  So while they journey to nowhere, there are plenty of rewarding stops in this mighty new production from Sport For Jove.  

Mighty is the cast size of 20, and so too is the running time of three and a half hours, in this direct translation (Karen Vickery) true to Chekhov’s original.  Georgia Hopkins also fills her wide stage with all the details of Chekhov’s world of provincial Russia circa 1900, while Emma Vime does the same with fine period costumes.

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