Reviews

Much Ado About Nothing

By William Shakespeare. Essential Theatre. Coriole Vineyards (SA). January 29, 2012

On a balmy evening in the McLaren Vale, a sweaty but appreciative audience set up shop on a grassy amphitheatre in the grounds of Coriole Winery to enjoy the nomadic Essential Theatre's 2012 Shakespeare production.

Treating us to Much Ado About Nothing, this is the company’s celebratory tenth year of entertaining Australia’s (and now New Zealand's) vino-sipping theatre tragics, and their ninth year performing at the hospitable Coriole.

Cry Me A River with Rhonda Burchmore

Writers: Rhonda Burchmore & Gary Young. Director: Gary Young Musical Director: Ray Alldridge. Bold Jack. Brisbane Powerhouse. February 1 to March 1, 2012

After premiering at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival last year, Rhonda Burchmore’s concert-bio show of Julie London arrived in Brisbane at the Powerhouse.

Ordinary Days

By Adam Gwon. Squabbalogic / Darlinghurst Theatre Company. January 19 – February 19, 2012.

Four strong musical theatre voices are accompanied by a grand piano, without a sign of electronic intervention between the performance and the audience, just good projection and diction.

Do you share my idea of musical theatre bliss?

Unplugged musical theatre. It’s such a refreshing sensory experience.

 

Beautiful Burnout

By Bryony Lavery. Sydney Festival, National Theatre of Scotland and Frantic Assembly. Seymour Centre (NSW). Jan 18 - 29

Beautiful Burnout, produced in collaboration with the National Theatre of Scotland and Frantic Assembly, is an interesting look in to the world of boxing.

For a sport that has many maligned preconceptions Bryony Lavery’s script attempts to pull the audience into the boxing ring and show why such a brutal sport has a large and devoted fan-base.

Britney Spears: The Cabaret

Written and Directed by Dean Bryant. Starring Christie Whelan. Musical Arrangements by Mathew Frank. Chapel off Chapel (Vic), Midsumma Festival, January 18 – 29, 2012; Brisbane Powerhouse (Qld), February 8 - 12; Seymour Centre, Sydney, February 15 - 25 and Riverside Theatre Parramatta, February 26 (NSW).

Even those who aren’t fans of Britney’s music will be won over by Christie Whelan’s tragi-comic turn as the scandalous pop diva in Britney Spears: The Cabaret. Written and directed by Dean Bryant, the show weaves details of Britney’s life – her early relationship with Justin Timberlake, marriage to Kevin Federline, her stints in rehab and meltdowns – through her catalogue of pop hits.

Thyestes

Co-written by Thomas Henning, Chris Ryan, Simon Stone and Mark Winter after Seneca. The Hayloft Project / Belvoir / Sydney Festival. Director: Simon Stone. Bay 20, Carriageworks, Redfern. January 15 – February 19, 2012.

Director Simon Stone’s run of excellence last year climaxed this month with four Sydney Theatre Awards for his Belvoir production of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck.

Actually, Stone threw Ibsen’s words to the wind, completely rewriting the play into contemporary life and staging it in a glass box with miked actors.

His astonishing take on Seneca’s Thyestes – co-written earlier with the three actors from The Hayloft Project for a Melbourne premiere in 2010 – goes even further in discarding the original.

Midsumma 2012 Reviews

Daniel G Taylor is out and about at Melbourne's Midsumma Festival

The Year of Magical Wanking

By Neil Watkins. Director: Phillip McMahon. Designer: Ciarán O'Melia. Theatreworks. January 17 - 29, 2012

It's hard to take some of the toughest taboos of gay life –HIV, drugs, sexual addiction –and make a theatre piece that's beautiful.

Fit Irish lad Neil Watkins performs a poetic monologue, going into the joys of wanking, the realities of life with HIV (you get free food, bless!), an addiction to the kinkiest porn imaginable, and lots and lots of smoking weed.

Turandot

By Giacomo Puccini. Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. Directed and Choreographed by Graeme Murphy. Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House from January 17 to March 19 and the Arts Centre, Melbourne from April 10 to May 11, 2012

When the chorus as the proud people of Peking entered the stage, they were so jam-packed you felt if someone pushed in the wrong direction they might all tumble into the orchestra pit.

We know China is crowded, so it was apt that the stage was as well.

More than sixty members of the children’s and adult chorus swayed, marched and mocked in bloodthirsty time to the music.

Terra Nova

By Ted Tally. Genesian Theatre Company (NSW). Directors: Mark Langham and Owen Gimblett. January 14 – February 4, 2012.

With so much attention on the Antarctic past at present, not just the anniversary of the final fatal expedition of Captain Scott, whose story is told in this play, but expeditions following in the steps of Douglas Mawson, and anti-whaling protests, Sydney’s Genesian Theatre has successfully tapped into the theme with a production of the dark but fascinating Terra Nova.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

By Ray Lawler. Director: Neil Armfield. MTC presents the Belvoir production. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. Jan 12 – Feb 18, 2012. Queensland Theatre Company season follows at the Playhouse, QPAC, from Feb 22 to Mar 11, 2012.

The Doll is undeniably one of our best and most enduring plays. This Belvoir production sets a new standard against which future productions will be compared.

Director, Neil Armfield and his inspired cast explore its relevance to modern lifestyles. Starry-eyed Olive tells Pearl that she prefers her annual five months of love, joy and devotion, followed by seven months of warm memories and anticipation of the boys’ return, to the drab routine of modern marriage. A contentious attitude in the fifties; not so confronting these days.

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