Reviews

Feast Festival 2011

Daniel G Taylor reviews events at Adelaide's Feast Festival

Red Light Songs of Lust, Love and Death

By Eric Kuhlmann

Feast Hub – The Lounge

15  - 18 November 2011

Eric Kuhlmann is a distinctive performer: a bear with a husky voice and a guitar, who writes original songs about his life.

In Red Light Songs of Lust, Love and Death, Kuhlmann sings mostly self-written original songs, with the occasional cover (such as Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer”) when it suits.

Bad Blood Blues

By Paul Sirett. Manilla Street Productions (VIC). Director: Chris Parker. Producer: Karen Jemison. Stage Design: Andrew Bellchambers. Lighting Design: Scott Allan. The Loft Theatre, Chapel Off Chapel, Melbourne. 11-26 November, 2011.

The opening night audience of the confronting and thought-provoking play Bad Blood Blueswere greeted with gentle sounds of African singing and guitar as they filtered through the Loft Theatre with their complimentary cocktail, a “Gin Jack Shack Attack”, featured later in the play.

The music, performed live on stage by Malawian-born musician David Marama, wafted over the set: a 1990s battered, no-frills medical office with clinical lighting, white floor, and the bare office essentials.

Richard III

By William Shakespeare. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. The Playhouse Theatre, Hobart Director: Andrew Casey. October 21 – November 5, 2011

ROCK OF AGES

Book: Chris D’Arienzo. Music & Lyrics: Various. New Theatricals Production. Lyrics Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane, 13 November 2011. Director: Kristin Hanggi. Musical Director: Dave Skelton. Choreography: Kelly Devine

Rock of Ages rocked into Brisbane last night and judging from the audience response it’s a genuine bonafide hit! Pedalling 80s kitsch, with a catalogue of the greatest rock hits of the 80s, the stage was awash with smoke bombs, lycra and glitter.

Pygmalion

By George Bernard Shaw. Queensland Theatre Company. The Playhouse, QPAC, 7 ─ 27 Nov 2011

Looking for a superlative pre-Christmas indulgence? Pygmalion is it!

With a huge map of central London as backdrop Michael Gow managed to reduce five acts and multiple locales into a smooth two acts of engaging theatre.

Shaw’s century-old play is remarkably relevant in these days of TV make-overs.

What’s more, Gow bravely moved the action forward to the Fifties ─ that era of stylish nipped waists, tight bodices and voluminous skirts. Very eye catching.

Bondi Dreaming

Written and Directed by Sam Atwell. Tamarama Rock Surfers. Bondi Pavilion Sydney. November 8 to December 3, 2011.

The opening night audience enjoyed a delicious sea breeze on the balcony of the Bondi Pavilion, overlooking Australia’s most famous beach. We then crammed into the theatre to watch young men locked in a cage like cell.

It gave a taste of what sense of loss a prisoner might feel in those circumstances.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

By Dale Wasserman, based on the novel by Ken Kesey. Epicentre Theatre Company. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood (NSW). November 4 – 12, 2011.

On a scaffolding set, where simplicity is a particularly effective choice, and the rear stage wall is clearly visible, necessary functional furniture items are the only further set dressing. There is no attempt to physically represent a mental institution.

Taking on the huge challenge of staging what has become an iconic movie, director Ben Lenzo has wisely pared all areas of his production back to the simplest elements of story-telling, avoiding direct comparison.

Warning: Explicit Material

By Geoffrey Atherden. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 27 October – 10 December, 2011

Dramatist Geoffrey Atherden is a national treasure. His iconic 1984-1994 television comedy Mother and Son, all 42 episodes, remain as fresh and as touching as ever. His 18 episode exposure of the awfulness of local councils, Grass Roots, was exceptional comic TV drama in 2000-2003. Now his new 3-character theatre play is welcomed on the open-plan Ensemble stage by a packed subscription audience. Hooray for funny, literate Australian drama with something important on its mind.

Fiddler on the Roof

By Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick. Gosford Musical Society (NSW) Laycock Street Theatre, Gosford. Director: Ted Williams. October 28 – November 19, 2011.

Caravan

By Donald Macdonald. Peridot Theatre (Vic). Director: Bob Bramble. November 4 – 19, 2011

Donald Macdonald’s Caravan is the holiday we would all like to forget; the story of three couples on a caravan holiday in NSW.

Peridot Theatre’s amazing set represents a rather long caravan, open-sided to reveal the interior where all the action takes place, with outside events achieved by excellent sound effects, from hitting one’s head upon entry, to erecting the annexe, to the thunderstorm and rain which kept the holiday makers inside the caravan for two weeks.

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