Reviews

The Lonesome West

By Martin McDonagh, Directed by Grant Lepan-Walker. Bakery @ 1812 Theatre. October 11 – November 3, 2012.

1812 theatre is nothing if not eclectic, and it makes some bold choices, (particularly for its performing space The Bakery) which won’t suit everyone, but which I find exciting. British born Irish playwright Martin McDonagh is best known for his three trilogies set in Galway Ireland. The Lonesome West is the third play in his first trilogy and it’s rarely performed. This may be because of its language and outright (though affectionate) blasphemy towards the Catholic church. It’s a very dark comedy, disturbing but hilariously funny.

The Hotel Hibiscus

By Robert Cockburn. Epicentre Theatre Company. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. Oct 18 – 27, 2012.

In the tradition of the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare and Brecht, The Hotel Hibiscus reflects society, sends a political message, advocates action. Using the setting of an imaginary island off the coast of New Guinea, it tells the story of the Australian-backed Papua New Guinea Defence Force’s dirty war for Rio Tinto Zinc on Bougainville Island in the 1990s – and the 15 year wall of silence that ensued.

Managing Carmen

By David Williamson. Director: Wesley Enoch. QTC with Black Swan State Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC, 18 Oct – 4 Nov. State Theatre Centre of WA Heath Ledger Theatre, Nov 10 – Dec 2, 2012.

David Williamson is at the top of his game with Managing Carmen, his new play about a cross-dressing AFL footballer. It’s immensely funny, zips along faster than the NBN, and has a pay-off that’s poignant in its plea for tolerance in our sport-obsessed society.

Michael James Manaia

By John Broughton. Taki Rua Productions. 45 Downstairs in association with Melbourne Festival. Directed by Nathaniel Lees. Performed by Te Kohe Tuhaka. Set Design – Daniel Williams. Lighting Design – Lisa Maule. Sound Design – Maaka McGregor. October 12 – 28, 2012.

Michael James Manaia is a spirited work of compassionate humanity exquisitely presented by a real tour de force in actor Te Kohe Tuhaka.  

Freeway – The Chet Baker Journey.

Conceived and written by Bryce Hallet and Tim Draxl. Melbourne Arts Centre 16th-20th October, 2012

Freeway is a stunning cabaret piece which has been rightly acclaimed. I wish I had seen it at a jazz club, with a glass of wine, at a rickety table and a sense of intimacy all around. The Fairfax is a small theatre, but it’s still a theatre, and Freeway isn’t yet a theatre show, in spite of its charm.

Between Two Waves

By Ian Meadows. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre (NSW). October 5 – November 17, 2012.

Griffin Theatre's latest offering Between Two Waves uses the issue of climate change as the central point for the plot to revolve around. But to think that this is a didactic play trying to prosecute the case for or against climate change would be a false assumption. This play uses the notion of an uncertain future as a way of highlighting our natural anxieties about what will or won't potentially go wrong - the glass half full versus the glass half empty theory.

Salome

Opera by Richard Strauss. Libretto by Strauss, from the play by Oscar Wilde. Director: Gale Edwards. Opera Conference / Opera Australia co-production. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. October 12 – November 3, 2012.

This is a classy new production of Strauss’s 1905 one-act opera that thrilled Europe with its modernist depiction of rampant lust, steamy dancing (with seven veils) and the unrestrained pashing of a decapitated head. In the confronting final scene of Gale Edwards’ powerful staging, Cheryl Barker as Salome rips out John the Baptist’s tongue before rolling around the floor with his head until her black gown glistens with blood.

Our Shadows Pass Only Once

By David Temme. Directed by Andrew Holmes. The Street Theatre Made in Canberra Series. 11-19 October, 2012.

Told entirely in interior monologue, this poetic and abstract work explores emotions within two failing relationships. With deliberately slow, flowing movement and innovative use of live video, it’s mesmerizingly compelling.

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of War of the Worlds

By Jeff Wayne and Doreen Wayne, adapted from HG Well’s science fiction story. Directed by Ron Dowd. SUPA Productions. ANU Arts Centre. 12 – 27 October 2012

This show is a big, gaudy, colourful, old-style over-the-top progressive rock concert based on an 1898 story, set to classic 1970s music and illustrated with 2000s CGI animation, and Supa’s production does it plenty of justice. Director Ron Dowd has a history taking on ridiculously ambitious rock spectaculars, like Tommy in 2003 and The Wall in 2007, and he’s pulled this one off.

Tarantula

By Alana Valentine. Tredwood Productions. King Street Theatre, Newtown. October 10 – November 3, 2012.

Alana Valentine is perhaps the most versatile of Australia’s newer playwrights. She is able to make verbatim theatre work dramatically, politically and socially. For her play Ear to the Edge of Time, she is currently in Dublin receiving an international award for the best of 200 plays about science and technology. Her play Head Full of Love has raised after show donations of $45,000 to address kidney disease among Central Desert indigenous Australians.

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