Reviews

Kiss Me, Kate

Music & Lyrics: Cole Porter. Book: Sam & Bella Spewack. Critical Edition: David Charles Abell & Seann Alderking. Opera Q. Director: Kris Stewart. Conductor: Guy Noble. Choreographer: Christopher Horsey. Concert Hall, QPAC. 12 Nov 2016

Following on from 2015’s semi-staged Candide, Opera Q have again dug into the musical theatre vault and come up with Kiss Me, Kate. It was a good choice. Staged in concert form for two performances it had more on the plus side than the minus – a top-heavy cast of stars, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Q Chorus and an ensemble of Griffith Musical Theatre graduates who all vocally blew the roof of the Concert Hall when they were in full flight which was often.

 

Deceptive Threads

Devisor/Performer – David Joseph. Devisor/Director – Karen Berger. Bowerbird Theatre. 45 Downstairs (Vic). 9 to 20 November 2016

Deceptive Threads depicts aspects of the comprehensively researched family, and lived personal, history of David Joseph.  It is an exquisitely crafted piece of theatre made by a number of exceptionally skilled practitioners and seamlessly linked with insightful direction by Karen Berger.   

As a sincere, genuine, moving work, full of heart and integrity, it brings with it strong and timely messages about attitudes to migrants and refugees.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Music and Lyrics: Frank Loesser: Book: Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport. Director: Shane Cadday November 12th to December 10th, 2016.

GCLT have a hit on their hands with their final production for 2016.  This light hearted look at big business has a striking resemblance to recent events in the US: an outsider seeing a greater prize and does everything in his power to achieve his goal.

In this case, the man in question is J. Pierrepont  Finch (Ethan Liboiron), an ambitious young window-washer who decides to trade “looking in” on the company to heading it, in the nicest possible way.

Don Parties On

By David Williamson. Red Phoenix Theatre. Holden Street Theatres. 10-19 November, 2016.

The timing of director Michael Eustice in premiering Don Parties On in South Australia could not have been better planned. Quite apart from recent events in the United States that you may have heard about, the home-grown political scenario depicted on stage has a particular resonance these days that only the passage of time was capable of creating.

A Life in the Theatre

By David Mamet. Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Eternity Playhouse. Nov 4 – Dec 4, 2016.

America’s David Mamet wrote his esteemed guide to acting, True and False, at the turn of this century. This play, a backstage dialogue between an older and a promising young actor, which premiered in Chicago in 1977 is really Mamet’s much younger love-letter to the profession. 

Blessed

By Fleur Kilpatrick. Attic Erratic Company for the Poppy Seed Theatre Festival. Malthouse Theatre, Tower. 8 – 20 November 2016.

With weird and unforeseen synchronicity this play opened on the day we learned that Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States.  The play’s characters, Maggie (Olivia Monticciolo) and Grey (Matt Hickey) are thwarted, defeated and hope-less, so poisoned by alienation and failure that they can no longer identify or blame the causes – except themselves.  There may be ‘no more exciting time to be Australian’, but not for these two.  They’ve been left behind.  Worse, we sense they always would be. 

Project Xan

Directed by Hellie Turner. PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts), WA. 8-19 November, 2016

Project Xan, presented by Jedda Productions at PICA, is a highly moving, insightful, documentary theatre piece, which examines rape culture. Sensitively presented, by a clearly tight-knit ensemble, it is a wonderful inspiration for discussion and debate.

Tartuffe

By Moliere. Adapted by Phillip Kavanagh. State Theatre Company & Brink Productions. Dunstan Playhouse. 4-20 November, 2016.

If you seek a light-hearted romp, written with wit and intelligence, this proudly accessible version of Tartuffe should fit the bill – for most of its length, at least. On the other hand, despite a gallery of memorable and effective performances to be found in the ensemble, you may well be disappointed by Tartuffe himself, a figure who proves (at least for this reviewer) more effective when talked about – in admiration, anticipation, or revulsion - by others than when making his own presence felt ‘in the flesh’.

The Threepenny Opera

By Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill based on the adaptation & translation of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera by Elizabeth Hauptmann; book & lyrics adapted & updated by Simon Stephens. National Theatre Live, recorded at the Olivier Theatre, London. Nova Cinemas, Carlton (VIC) and cinemas nationally. Opens 12 November 2016.

Watching a rather solemn rehearsal of The Threepenny Opera in the United States, in the 1950s, Bertolt Brecht voiced a loud objection: ‘Das ist nicht spass!’  (This is no fun!’)  However serious, or indeed didactic, the show, it still better to be fun.  That is, sharp, funny and entertaining – plus ravishing the audience with insights about their world.

Sweet Phoebe

By Michael Gow. Directed by Anthony Skuse and Suzanne Pereira. Old Fitz Theatre, Sydney. 1 – 12 November 2016

Helen and Fraser are a pretentious and privileged Sydney couple. Their relationship is hardly comfortable – attempts at intimacy are awkward – but their lives are turned upside down when they look after their friends’ dog. Sweet Phoebe runs away and they become desperate, doing increasingly strange things, in an attempt to find her.

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