Reviews

Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon

Arena Theatre Company. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The Famous Spiegeltent at Arts Centre Melbourne. Directed by Christian Leavesley. Dramaturgy by Casey Bennetto. April 5 – 10, 2016

As consummate, flexible performers, Claire Bartholomew and Daniel Tobias present two well-rounded personas - Sunny Ray and Magnificent Moon, respectively. 

This show is great entertainment for four to eight year olds and their parents and anyone who can be a big kid at heart when watching fun performances. 

I Get The Music In You

Jan Van de Stool (Queenie van de Zandt). MICF. Trades Hall, Carlton. 24 March - 17 April, 2016.

Queenie van de Zandt is a legend amongst Music Theatre and Cabaret lovers. Her alter ego, Jan van de Stool, is almost as famous – thanks to Queenie.

The Great Fire

By Kit Brookman. Belvoir. April 2 – May 8, 2016

The opening scenes of this new play by Kit Brookman are so promising. The introductory dialogue is crisp and the cast has picked up the natural rhythms that make it recognisably Australian. The characters and setting too, in these opening scenes, are familiar: members a family returning home from different parts of the country to celebrate Christmas.

Replay

By Phillip Kavanagh. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre. April 2 – May 7, 2016

Brotherly love can be such an odd beast, a mix of unstated feelings and admiration, pinched by competition and envy, gentle and teasing perhaps but often bullying and oppressive.  Phillip Kavanagh’s new play about three brothers begins with these promising themes.

Harvey

By Mary Chase. Direction: Simon Corvan & Kathleen Yorston. Growl Theatre, Windsor School of Arts Hall, Windsor, Qld. 7 – 16, April 2016

Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize winning Harvey was written in 1944 and at 1,775 performances is one of the longest running plays on Broadway. It owes a lot to the screwball comedies of the thirties, think The Man Who Came to Dinner and plays of that ilk. Psycho-analysis became the rage in the U.S. at the time with plays and musicals alive with Sigmund Freud allusions. Chase cleverly tapped into this stream of social consciousness and was one of the first playwright’s to suggest the inmates of the asylum were more sane than the people who committed them.

Song Contest – the Almost Eurovision Experience

By Glynn Nicholas. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The Alex Theatre, St Kilda. April 1 – May 1, 2016

Song Contest was very loud and lots of fun. It’s hard to take off something as over the top as Eurovision, but they succeeded and the audience loved it.

Though not having as much space as the original, the set was impressive with scaffolds on either side housing upstairs space for interviews with hosts from other countries, and lots of lights.

The Game’s Afoot … or Holmes for the Holidays

By Ken Ludwig. Castle Hill Players. The Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill Showground. April 8 – 30, 2016.

Paul Sztelma continues his ongoing ‘fling’ with Ken Ludwig in this quirky bit of farcical fun. Light on plot but heavy on melodrama and mayhem, the play gives both director and actors the chance to push pace, pitch and plausibility to their perplexing perimeters.

The play is set in the mid 1930s in the Connecticut mansion home of playwright-cum-leading-actor-cum-amateur-detective William Gilette (Jason Spindlow), whose Sherlock Holmes-style thriller has just closed after a long run … and an attempted murder at the final curtain call.

Charlie Pickering, How to Tame a Wild Squirrel

Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition Street, Melbourne. 7-9 April 2016

The image of the slick and successful television personality of Charlie Pickering makes it difficult to imagine him back on the stage in a stand up routine. This is an opportunity to see a raw version of the now polished persona we have become accustomed to. Pickering is astonishing in his ability to expose the daring that is required to perform in this context.

Old Times

By Harold Pinter. Directed by Tony Knight. Mystique Productions and Tony Knight-Acting. Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. 6-9 April, 2016.

Bryan Ferry’s mid-70s-era interpretation of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" doesn’t get nearly as much exposure or recognition these days as this reviewer believes it should, so director Tony Knight’s decision to open his production of Harold Pinter’s 1971 play with the unmistakable Ferry croon certainly grabs the attention.

Savages

By Patricia Cornelius. Darlinghurst Theatre Company. Eternity Playhouse. April 1 – May 1, 2016

Savages is about four blokes on a cruise trying unsuccessfully to leave behind the baggage of their disappointed lives and loves.  

Written by a woman, Patricia Cornelius, directed by a Brit, Tim Roseman, it’s a portrait finally of Australian misogyny – of four men, manic and fearful, defensive and two-faced to each other, but driven by their camaraderie and desperate escapism towards a violent assertion of their sexual needs.  Such men crossed the path of Dianne Brimble who was killed on that P&O cruise back in 2002.

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