Reviews

The Wonderful World of Dissocia

By Anthony Neilson. Underground Productions, Queensland Uni Drama Club. Schonell Theatre, Qld Uni. St Lucia, Brisbane. Director: Sampson Smith. March 6th – 15th, 2014.

What an unusual piece of entertainment. This show takes the audience on a topsy-turvy journey to the World of Dissocia – a strange place inhabited by odd-balls. With a plot hard to follow at times, good diction was an asset in this production and the cast threw themselves into their various characterizations with gusto as the audience witnessed the rise and demise of Lisa in search of her precious “lost hour” which she had experienced on a trans Atlantic flight.

 

The Judas Kiss

By David Hare. Directed and designed by Jason Cavanagh. Co-director Celeste Cody. Lighting designer Rob Sowinki. Presented by Mockingbird Theatre. Theatre Works until March 22, 2014. (Vic.)

David Hare’s searching drama about Oscar Wilde’s very public fall from grace, holed up in a London hotel awaiting arrest to face of a charge of gross indecency (Act 1) and his despair in both poverty and exile in Naples after his release from two years imprisonment (Act 2), is a mighty, flawed jewel of theatre literature.

Green Porno

Conceived and Performed by Isabella Rossellini. Text by Isabella Rossellini and Jean-Claude Carriere. Artistic Guidance: Muriel Mayette. Lighting Designer and Video: Antoine Manichon. English Translation: Julia Groopman. Adelaide Festival. Her Majesty's Theatre. March 15-16, 2014, and touring.

Did you ever think you would be learning about sex from international icon Isabella Rossellini? Did you ever think that a lecture about animal life could be so raunchy, yet so fun?

Welcome to a strange new frontier in education and entertainment, combining a live presentation (delivered mostly from behind a lectern) with extraordinarily resourceful and funny filmed footage of a costumed Rossellini demonstrating (in often disconcerting detail) just what the non-humans of this world get up to in their quest for a mate!

Some of the more memorable comic highlights include:

RIGOLETTO

Opera by Giuseppi Verdi. Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave, after Victor Hugo’s play Le Roi s’amuse (1832). Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Johannes Fritzsch. Director: Lindy Hume. Chorus Master: Narelle French. Opera Q @ Lyrics Theatre, QPAC, 15-29 March 2104.

There was some fine singing on display in Opera Q’s new very grand production of Verdi’s 150-year old Rigoletto, which has been updated in director Lindy Hume’s concept to Silvio Berlusconi’s Italy. Hume originally created her vision for New Zealand Opera in 2012 using Berlusconi’s bunga bunga sex trial and corruption scandals as her inspiration.

Modern dress operas are a two-edged sword, they either work or they don’t. This one basically worked better than most although frustratingly there were still anachronisms.

The Government Inspector

By Simon Stone with Emily Barclay; devised with the cast, featuring a short musical by Stefan Gregory, Inspired by Nikolai Gogol. Malthouse Theatre and Belvoir. Directed by Simon Stone. Set Design by Ralph Myers. Lighting Design by Paul Jackson. Sound Design and Composition by Stefan Gregory. Choreography by Lucy Guerin. Costume Design by Mel Page. Merlyn Theatre until 23 March, 2014.

This work, inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s exploration of fraudulent behavior as depicted in his play The Government Inspector, bears little resemblance to the original. It could be described as a work in three acts. But don’t let that put you off, it is short and crisp and there is no interval. 

In Act One everything falls into strange disarray through a number of over the top events that are hilariously presented in a sort of matter-of-fact, yet, theatrical manner by a team of actors in search of a  …. solution.  

Next to Normal

Music by Tom Kitt. Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Directed by Darilyn Ramondo Doorstep Arts. Geelong Performing Arts Centre. March 14 - 22, 2014

Some things in life are a paradox; this Pulitzer Prize winning musical is one. With a storyline covering the disintegration of a family because of one member’s mental illness triggered by grief, it should be a depressing downer that makes you squirm; and yet it is witty, full of love and hope, cathartic and ultimately spiritually uplifting. It is more than a show, it is an emotional experience if it is done well. Doorstep Arts do it so well that it could be renamed Next to Perfect.

EMPIRE

Spiegelworld. The Spiegeltent. Rooftop, Crown Casino (Vic). March 11th to April 20th, 2014.

Sometimes one standing ovation just isn’t enough; so be prepared to be on your feet two or three times when you see this sensational production, which loosely sings the praises of New York City (though comic host “Oscar” [Jonathan Taylor] tells us expletively that Empire doesn’t need a story like ****ing Cirque du Soleil.)

Dimboola

By Jack Hibberd. Epicentre Theatre Company. King Street Theatre, Newtown (NSW). March 13 – 22, 2014.

Vivid and rude, this production of the classic comedy was grabbed by the scruff of the neck by a 20 something student director who was born twenty years after it was written.

Darcy Green set up an authentic looking  wedding booze up for the late 1960’s union of Protestant Morrie McAdam and Catholic Reen Delaney in the Mechanics Institute Hall, Dimboola, Victoria.

When one of his stars got laryngitis the student director learnt the role of Horrie in a few days.

Fight Night

The Border Project and Ontroerend Goend. Directed by Alexander Devriendt. Adelaide Festival. Queen's Theatre. March 13-16 2014.

Five contenders in bathrobes. A ringmaster with stock-standard bow tie and microphone. The stage is set - but this competition will hinge entirely on talking, thinking, persuasion, manipulation.

Subverting an audience's expectations can be a risky enterprise, but the minds behind Fight Night have done it, and delivered a presentation that is as gripping and thrilling as it is clever and sly.

Djuki Mala

“Chooky Dancers”. Judith Wright Centre of Creative Arts, Brisbane. 13 – 15 March 2014

Most people know where Northern Territory is but wouldn’t know where to find Elcho Island (home of the Chooky Dancers). Without You Tube you may never have heard of the Chooky Dancers. Their short 2010 You Tube video attracted over 800,000 viewers worldwide. That put the long little island just off the northern Arnhem Land coast on the map.

Elcho Island young men adapted traditional dances to embrace the western world’s popular music. They do it with panache!

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