Reviews

Housos Live on Stage

Part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The Palms at Crown Casino, 26 – 28 March, 2014

For those who haven’t seen it, Housos is an SBS TV series set in the fictional suburb of Sunnyvale, focusing on its low-income residents who live in housing commission homes. Housos Live on Stage features some of the actors from the series playing their familiar characters. Hosted by Paul Fenech as Franky Falzoni, the show is very much geared towards the series’ dedicated fans, who seemed to be out in force in last night’s audience for the first of several Melbourne Comedy Festival performances.

Dumb Things I’ve Done

Alex Williamson. Part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Athenaeum Theatre, 25 – 29 Mar, 2014.

Back in my youth the blue humorist who was all the rage was one Kevin Bloody Wilson. Alex Fucking Williamson (as he was introduced last night at the Athenaeum for his Melbourne Comedy Festival performance) has clearly taken that esteemed Aussie tradition to the next level.

The publicity poster for his show features a line describing him as “the future of comedy”, which underscores the fact that his shtick is aimed squarely at teens and early twentysomethings.

Little Women The Broadway Musical

Book by Allen Knee. Music by Jason Howland. Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein. Bankstown Theatre Company. Director: Diane Wilson. Musical Director: Greg Crease. Choreographer: Edward Rooke. Bankstown Arts Centre, Olympic Parade, Bankstown. March 21 - 30, 2014.

Fond childhood memories of the Little Women will, I’m sure, flood back for many audience members in an engaging community theatre production of this gentle charm musical. Wisely the writers have plumped for intimacy, not padding the show with chorus numbers that can overburden adaptations of intimate literary sources, even paring back the novel’s secondary characters.

Madama Butterfly

By Giacomo Puccini. Opera Australia. Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Fleet Steps Mrs Macquaries Point. March 21 to April 12, 2014.

American property developer B F Pinkerton is subdividing a little slice of Japanese waterfront paradise just off the Botanical Gardens, where Sydney’s brightly lit skyline and passing ferries provide an aptly striking panorama for this modern take on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

The idyllic natural setting of the first act, a lush pristine green slope, topped by an attractive grove of trees, is marked out with tell-tale white chalk lines, clearly being carved up for development. Large screens telegraph the message of Lost Paradise.

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s novel, as adapted for the stage by Helen Jerome. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 8 March – 13 April, 2014.

This style of play gives Arts an extra edge over other Brisbane theatres: visually stunning, a big cast of talented actors, and a great night out at an affordable price.

Everything falls together here – set and costume designs, astute direction, effective lighting and sound support, gracious pace  ̶  making it a must-see for drama students: the British Empire/Regency period alive on stage, with actors who ‘live’ in their period costumes!

 

The Tiger Lillies

The Street Theatre, Canberra. 18th March 2014

The Tiger Lillies are a musical trio from Britain, comprising the founder Martyn Jacques (vocals, accordion and piano), Mike Pickering (drums, percussion and backing vocals) and Adrian Stout (double bass, musical saw, theremin and backing vocals).

Their style is quite a mixture: obvious Brechtian influences, a dash of punk, the darker edge of old folk songs, a bit of Jacques Brel, and a nod to Parisian cabaret. All this creates a strange but compelling soundscape where the audience comes along on an eerie narrative journey.

Deathtrap

By Ira Levin. Director: Ian Rigney. Therry Dramatic Society. The Arts Theatre, Adelaide (SA). March 20-29, 2014.

When you put an ingenious text together with a highly regarded theatre company, a proven director, and a cast with top-level experience, you're bound to get something satisfying - and this latest version of Deathtrap certainly is, even if those familiar with the play may feel that a certain sparkle has been lost from the text over time.

Neighbourhood Watch

By Lally Katz. Melbourne Theatre Company / Belvoir. Directed by Simon Stone. Set and Costume Designer: Dale Ferguson. Lighting Designer: Damien Cooper. Composer and Sound Designer: Stefan Gregory. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. 17 March to 26 April 2014.

Neighbourhood Watch is about the rich complex life of Ana, an acerbic aging Hungarian woman.  Our amazing matriarch of theatre Robyn Nevin is truly a ‘tour-de-force’ as Ana, who is depicted through her interactions with the people living around her.  It is fascinating to watch Ms. Nevin’s rich and multi-layered characterization.  Working opposite her, Megan Holloway, as Catherine, adroitly bridges the gap of portraying a vague self-interested young actor and Ana’s younger self, both on treacherous journeys to adulthood.

Quartet

By Ronald Harwood. Javeenbah Theatre Company, Gold Coast. Director: Joan Stalker Brown. March 21st – April 5th, 2014.

In bringing to the stage this tale of former thespians, each an operatic star during their careers, now in the autumn of their lives, Joan Stalker Brown delivers a believable slice of life for those of us who look forward with apprehension to old age. 

With a cast of four senior citizens (who are hardly offstage for any length of time) we enter the dilemma they face when only 3 of them want to relive past glories and recreate their “tour de force” the quartet from Rigoletto.

 

Guys and Dolls

Music & Lyrics: Frank Loesser. Book: Abe Burrows, based on the characters of Damon Runyon. Harvest Rain. Director: Tim O’Connor. Musical Director: Maitlohn John. Choreographer: George Canham. Concert Hall, QPAC. 20-23 March 2014

Guys and Dolls is a very dated musical and in this productions feels as though it has gone well beyond its use-by date. A quintessential American musical, or more specifically a Broadway one, it was written 64 years ago when people were still reading Damon Runyon. At the time Frank Loesser’s adaptation of the characters was considered brilliant, but times change and what was considered a classic yesterday, today seems merely tired and old-fashioned.

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