Reviews

Relatively Speaking

By Alan Ayckbourn. Therry Dramatic Society. Directed by Norman Caddick. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide. March 18-28, 2015

The Therry Dramatic Society’s latest production is a lively and technically polished affair, that breathes fresh life into what is, on paper, a rather formulaic farce revolving around the common narrative tropes associated with infidelity and mistaken identity.

Grease

Book, Music & Lyrics: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey. Bankstown Theatre Company. Bryan Brown Theatre, Bankstown. March 20 – 29, 2015.

Grease seems to have become the ultimate high school musical, a far cry from its original darker stage version. In the hands of a mostly teenage cast like the present enthusiastic one at Bankstown, with popular songs from the movie interpolated, it’s mostly a joyful romp with a few mildly naughty moments. You’d scarcely rate it PG anymore. Time, of course, and what it now takes to shock us, may well have played their part in softening the show.

La Sylphide

Ballet by Peter Schaufuss after August Bournonville. Choreography & Direction: Peter Schaufuss. Music: Herman Severin Levenskjold. With the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Andrew Mogrelia. Playhouse, QPAC. March 20 – 31, 2015

Ballet lovers are in for a treat with Queensland Ballet’s magnificently grand La Sylphide. It’s the first time Peter Schaufuss’s award-winning production has been staged in Australia and Queensland Ballet, augmented by guest artists, do him proud.

Godspell

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Conceived & originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak. Lane Cove Theatre Company. Director Christine Firkin. Musical Director: Paul Young. St Aidans Hall, Longueville. March 20 – 29, 2015.

As teenagers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we read bible stories in modern English from ‘Good News for Modern Man’, singing folk and pop styled religious songs at church fellowship. Small surprise that soft rock musical Godspell, based on The Gospel According to St. Mathew, with its gentle narratives, resonated then. That mix continues to engage audiences today.

Essgee’s Pirates of Penzance

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Updated by Melvyn Morrow, Kevin Hocking and Essgee Melodies. Gosford Musical Society. March 6 – 21, 2015.

When word went out that GMS was doing the modern ( =slightly rock) adaptation of Pirates they had no shortage of men volunteering to jump on board. But in the early stages of this production it was the women who outshone them.

The instructions to the cast were that the arrival of the newly released Pirate Frederic on the beach was to create such a hormonal stir amongst the young maidens, as to give hot flushes to members of the audience. They delivered in spades. 

Humble Boy

By Charlotte Jones. Director: Gary O’Neill. Centenary Theatre Group. Chelmer Community Centre, Brisbane. 7-28 Mar 2015

Shakespeare’s Hamlet, bee keeping, the ‘theory of everything,’ adultery and dysfunctional families are all themes present in Charlotte Jones’ London award-winner Humble Boy, which also contains echoes of Stoppard and Ayckbourn. It’s almost too many big ideas for this essential comedy-of-manners, which seems to run out of steam midway through the second-act.

Elektra/Orestes

By Jada Alberts & Anne-Louise Sarks. Belvoir. March 14 – April 26, 2015.

Not one but three Greek dramatists – Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus – have played their part embedding this tale of intergenerational revenge into our race memory. 

Elektra conspires with her exiled brother Orestes to murder her mother Klytemnestra and lover Aegisthus, in revenge for their murder of her royal father, Agamemnon.  (Klytemnestra was in turn revenging the murder by Agamemnon of their eldest daughter – which he made as a sacrifice to get good winds to do battle at Troy!).

Hot Brown Honey

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. March 19-28, 2015

The Black Honey Company was set up to create cross-genre work for the hip-hop generation and for young people, folks on the margins and families. Director's Notes indicate a desperate need for change, in particular the need to give love and respect to the First Nation people of our land, those that have come before us. To quote: 'this is our time and it's time to shine'.

Mary Poppins – The Broadway Musical

Music & Lyrics: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman, George Stiles, Anthony Drewe. Book: Julian Fellowes. Free-Rain Production. Directed by Stephen Colyer. Produced by Anne Somes. Canberra Theatre, Canberra. March 12 – 29, 2015

The new and sparkling Broadway version of the musical Mary Poppins is a great deal of fun, with eminently singable songs that stick in your head for days afterwards, elaborate choreography, and a very talented cast and technical team.

From the Rubble

Conceived and directed by Melissa Cantwell. Perth Theatre Company. PICA, Perth Cultural Centre, WA. 16-28 March 2015

Perth Theatre Company's From the Rubble is an extremely visual piece of theatre, inspired by stories from Western Australian journalist Sophie McNeill, about her experiences in the Middle East.

With minimal dialogue, we are transported to the war-zones of the Middle East, in a multimedia production that includes some verbatim theatre, with a variety of theatrical forms, including paper sculpture, puppetry, mask work, shadow puppetry, projections, animation, film, movement and song among others.

 

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