Reviews

La Petite Merde

Written and performed by Brianna Williams. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Imperial Hotel, 5th to 16th April; Butterfly Club, 17th to 23rd April 2017

Running for 18 nights, this solo show is a blend of short sketches and a lot of improvising, and Brianna Williams has given herself the challenge of relying on audience participation for a large portion of the show. The theme in La Petite Merde is the attainment of happiness, whether it is in the workplace, a marriage, or being happy in ones self. Translated it literally means ‘the little shit’, the ‘shit’ being ‘happiness’, as it is so hard to attain.   

Hysteria

By Terry Johnson. Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Eternity Playhouse. March 31 – April 30, 2017

All farces need a good grounding in truth.  A meeting one rainy night in London between the dying great psychoanalyst Freud and the volatile surrealist Dali seems the perfect start.

Designer Anna Gardiner even creates a suitably washed out Hampstead consulting room for Freud with a clutter of busy doors already at surrealist angles.

Long Tan

By Verity Laughton. Brink Productions /State Theatre Company of SA. Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. March 31st – April 8th, 2017

The Anzac forces in the Battle of Long Tan consisted of a mere 105 Australians and 3 New Zealanders. On August 18, 1966, just three months after arriving in Vietnam, the men of Delta Company 6 RAR were to face a battle like no other.

Dracula

Shake and Stir Theatre Company and Queensland Performing Arts Centre. Riverside Theatre Parramatta. April 1 – 4, 2017, and touring.

Shake and Stir have presented their own new adaptation of the classic Bram Stoker horror story.  Co adaptors Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij, who also played lead roles, Dracula and Mina, have given the tale a fresh new feel, with a clever design using a highly effective stage revolve.

Impure Thoughts

Written and performed by Claire Healy. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tasma Terrace, East Melbourne. April 3rd to 22nd 2017

Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) is as much about Melbourne and its glorious tucked away theatres as it is about the abundance and variety of talent that comes from all over the world to entertain us for a month in blissful Autumn weather.  It’s madness if you don’t get out and see at least one show, if not ten, there is so much happening.

The Drowsy Chaperone

Music & Lyrics: Lisa Lambert & Greg Morrison. Book: Bob Martin & Don McKellar. Holroyd Musical and Dramatic Society. Director: Samwise Holmes. Musical Director: Todd Jacobs. Choreography: Candice Docker. Redgum Centre. 31 Mar - 8 Apr, 2017.

This is a lively and fun production and, despite some rough spots, has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. The show-within-a-show format is well realised. Although Samwise Holmes is well-experienced performing on stage and in the pit, this is his first time as director, and he does a great job in not only bringing the show to life but keeping it chugging along at a fast-but-not-too-fast pace.

It Shoulda Been You

Music by Barbara Anselmi, with book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove. Chatswood Musical Society. Independent Theatre, North Sydney. March 31 – April 8, 2017

2015 Broadway musical It Shoulda Been You often feels like pure musical comedy, yet it’s also a snappy marital musical farce, with frequent nods to vaudeville. While there’s a lot that’s old-fashioned about this show, especially many of the gags, it also has a joyous and contemporary take on families and marriage. The maternal wrangling over an inter-religion Catholic / Jewish marriage is one fairly obvious plot twist among many, though I’m loathe to discuss plot any further and risk the minefield of potential spoilers.

Trelawny of the Wells

By Arthur Wing Pinero. Canberra Repertory. Directed by Tony Turner. Theatre 3, Acton A.C.T. 29 March – 9 April 2017

Rose Trelawny farewells her theatrical colleagues at the Wells theatre in order to spend time living, on probation, with her imminent in-laws, only to discover that people in that world don’t exaggerate every mannerism, emotion, and word as her company has always done on the stage — and that her in-laws are unbearable.  Returning to the stage with a compulsion to portray her characters more realistically finds her at odds with the theatre management, to her cost.

 

Squeaky Clean Comedy 

Candlelight Productions. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Melbourne City Conference Centre, 333 Swanston Street, Melbourne. 1, 7 & 8 April, 2017.

Squeaky Clean Comedy includes a culturally diverse line-up of award-winning comedians. This show is specifically designed as a family friendly event keeping the humour suitable for all ages. The humour is never watered down and the innuendo remains in a diplomatic and tasteful sphere. Michael Connell is a masterful MC and he keeps the show going at a cracking and hilarious pace. The individual acts provide a fabulous opportunity to see a variety of performers currently participating in the Comedy Festival and provides a real showcase of Australian and NZ talent.

Ladies in Black

Book by Carolyn Burns. Music and lyrics by Tim Finn. Queensland Theatre. Directed by Simon Phillips. Canberra Theatre Centre. 28 March – 2 April 2017

The Canberra Theatre Centre's "Collected Works" series has captured many marvels, Ladies in Black being the most lightheartedly musical in a while. It may be said to be a tale of little plot, and is most readily summed up as light musical comedy, but the many characters whose lives you will share will easily steal into your heart.

 

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