Max & Ivan The Reunion

Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Melbourne Town Hall - Powder Room. March 27 – April 20, 2014.

Max and Ivan take us to a 10 -year school reunion, where we meet the usual range of characters; the meek, the bully, the nerd, and the weird, just like our own school reunions.

Max and Ivan engaged the audience with their combination of verbal and physical comedy, as they seamlessly switch between subplots, fact, fantasy and characters with just a change in stance and voice and well-timed changes to the lighting. Staging is simple, as most festivals require, with some school lockers and two chairs, and no props.


By William Shakespeare. Directed by Michael Attenborough CBE. D.Litt. Queensland Theatre Company with Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe. The Playhouse, QPAC, Brisbane. 24 March – 13 April 2014.

This brilliant, accessible production is played passionately with crisp and carefully articulated dialogue that engages any audience. (Remember, Shakespeare wrote for an audience over half of whom were illiterate). Michael Attenborough inspired many of our finest actors to elicit performances worthy of any world stage All rose to the occasion.

Jason Klarwein (Macbeth) and Veronica Neave (Lady Macbeth) dominated the stage and spearheaded their superlative cast who worked as an ensemble, several tackling multiple roles with élan.

Identity Crisis

Paul McCarthy. Part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Forum Theatre – Pizza Room. 27 Mar – 20 Apr, 2014.

Best known for his sketch comedy work in Comedy Inc and Wednesday Night Fever, Paul McCarthy is now taking to the stage as part of Melbourne Comedy Festival to recount anecdotes from his life and how he solved his ‘identity crisis’ by losing himself in the world of theatre. In a tiny room at the Forum Theatre, and playing to an audience which included his two sisters, Mr McCarthy told probably apocryphal stories about his family, with particular emphasis on his mother and brothers.

Dirty Talk

EastEnd Cabaret. Part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The Famous Spiegeltent, 27 Mar – 6 Apr, 2014.

The Famous Spiegeltent is the perfect venue for EastEnd Cabaret, with its “deviant diva” Bernadette Byrne in all her 1920s Berlin excess and exaggerated Germanic accent. Introduced by her comedy partner and musician Victor Victoria (made up in the tradition of a classic half man/half woman), she started proceedings by picking two men from the audience to form a “man beast”, hitching a ride to the stage on their backs as they crawled down the aisle on hands and knees.

The Best of British

Part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival - Upstairs at the Exford Hotel, 199 Russell Street City, Nightly from March 26th-April 20th, 2014

With an ever expanding programme of shows , one of the hardest decisions to make during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival  each year is where to spend your ticket dollars. Will you luck into the best show of the festival? Or will you spend an hour on uncomfortable seating with nary a laugh to be had? ‘The Best Of British’ could be the answer to your prayers. A tasting plate of comedic talents, with a rotating line-up of the  UK talent on offer this festival, if one act isn’t to your taste, just wait a few minutes and sample the next.

Anything Goes

Music and lyrics by Cole Porter. MUSE – The Sydney University Musical Theatre Ensemble. Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre. March 26 – 29, 2014.

While Cole Porter’s classic songs are the enduring stars of fun but flimsy musical comedy Anything Goes, the choreography of this student production at Sydney University is the standout.

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.

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