Reviews

The Living Room

By Amrita Dhaliwal & Gemma Soldati. Dhali Dati. Melbourne Fringe Festival at The Butterfly Club. September 16 – 22, 2019

Death is an inevitable part of life, and so why not create a hilarious funny hour around this morbid subject. Direct from Los Angeles Fringe festival, Amnita Dhaliwal and  Gemma Soldati  are here to perform The Living Room - A Comedy of Grief. The show is set around a bunch rules that remind us that we can laugh at our own mortality and mourn the passing of others.

Two Canaries

By Alexa Taylor, with Jess Nyanda Moyle and Zoe Street. Directed by Alexa Taylor. The Blue Room Studio, James St, Northbridge. Sep 10 - 28, 2019

A canary in a coal mine is an advanced warning of some danger. Two Canaries, currently playing at the Blue Room, is a gentle but passionate call to action about climate change, as we are reminded about the real and imminent danger faced by the world.

Quite Drunk, Very Jesus-y

By Grace De Morgan. Key Conspirators & North of Eight. Melbourne Fringe Festival. New Council Chambers, Trades Hall. 13 - 22 September 2019

It’s unusual to find a Fringe show that is a full-length (well, 90 minutes) and well-made play with an appealing and talented cast of five and directed by a fully professional and accomplished director.  From the title, you’d guess this was something else.  I did.  What a pleasant surprise.  The spirit of Alan Ayckbourn hovers over Quite Drunk, Very Jesus-y – and that is no bad thing.  An ensemble of ‘ordinary’ people who are or were practicing Christians and who think they know each other turn out not to.

Daring Dog Monologues

Melbourne Writers’ Theatre. Gasworks Arts Park. 12 to 21, September 2019.

Directed by Elizabeth Walley with great precision and attention to detail, and as usual ending on a high, Daring Dog Monologues is comprised of six adeptly rendered monologues and is an excellent night of theatre of the intimate variety.

The Beautiful Game

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, book and lyrics by Ben Elton. Manilla Street Productions. Directed by Karen Jemison. Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran.13-29 September, 2019

Revisiting the troubles in Northern Ireland via the musical The Beautiful Game is a timely choice given the volatile and fragile nature of the peace agreement, especially due to Brexit. This production is a moving reminder of the horrific realities this political conflict produced and the lives it has wasted. John (Stephen Mahy) and Mary (Stephanie Wall) are played with a child-like innocence which contrasts well with the transformation into hardened adults that they make throughout the show.

I’m a Phoenix, Bitch

Created & performed by Bryony Kimmings. Melbourne Fringe Festival. Arts Centre Melbourne, The Fairfax. 11 – 15 September 2019.

The Phoenix rises from the ashes - from the ashes of the worst time in Bryony Kimmings' life in this her first show for ten years.  She presents her experiences of this almost unimaginably bad time in a highly original multi-media, multi-platform one woman show.  It was for her a time of near fatal, crippling post-natal depression, madness and paranoia.  Her son – her first child – was and is severely disabled.  She broke up with the boy’s father (well, he abandoned her) and she almost wilfully drowned.

In The Heights

By Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes. Pelican ProductionsArts Theatre, Adelaide. 14-21 September, 2019

In the Heights won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical. It is a high-octane musical set within a Latino community in Washington Heights, New York.

Over one long hot summer in which electricity black-outs are the norm, the drama focuses on the respective stories of three families who live and work within this community.

Each story is inter-linked, not only because of the respective family business on this particular street in Washington Heights, but also through a narrator-figure, Usnavi, played with great charm in this production by Joshua Angeles.

Passionate Machine

Written & performed by Rosy Carrick. Melbourne Fringe Festival. The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne. 16 – 22 September 2019

This dazzling show is about time travel – and other things.  If time travel makes you think of the Terminator and Back to the Future movies, Rosy Carrick makes reference to both; they’re an inspiration for her.  But only one aspect or one persona of Rosy Carrick is a pop culture nerd; she’s also a PhD who did her thesis on Russian revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky – and has edited and co-translated a selection of his poetry, Volodya (2015) and his epic poem Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (2017) and published

Maskerade

By Terry Pratchett, adapted by Stephen Baiggs. Directed by Steve Beeston. Brisbane Arts Theatre, September 14 – October 12, 2019.

Once more we venture in to Discworld, where the abnormal becomes the norm. All is not well in Ankh – Morpork Opera House - as a ghost stalks the corridors while leaving strange letters for the management and killing staff. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Org, two Lancre witches, come to investigate. That is only one step on a complicated journey through the extremes of Terry Pratchett’s writing, with an opera house and company as the linchpin for the action. Thus, there are the dancers and singers to flavour the happenings. This adaption works well.

Celebration

By Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall. Stirling Players Inc (SA). Stirling Community Theatre. 13-28 September, 2019.

Weddings and funerals have each provided extremely fertile ground for storytellers and dramatists down through the ages, owing to the propensity of these occasions for bringing together people with deep emotional connections to each other, then letting us see how those connections are tested and how those emotions are stirred.

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