Reviews

Private Lives

By Noël Coward. Eltham Little Theatre (Vic). Director: Susan Rundle. Eltham Performing Arts Centre. August 25 – September 10, 2011.

Noël Coward’s 1930 comedy of manners tells the story of Amanda and Elyot, divorced and newly remarried to new partners, who find themselves honeymooning in adjacent hotel apartments, and on their neighbouring balconies.

One can imagine what this could lead to! And it does.

ELT’s opening set, adjoining Mediterranean hotel balconies, and the second, an apartment in Paris, captured the period particularly well. Exquisite costuming also evoked the era, with ladies’ hairdos giving that added touch.

Flowerchildren

World Premiere. By Peter Fitzpatrick (featuring the songs of The Mamas and The Papas). Musical arrangements Simon Stone. Magnormos. Theatre Works, St Kilda (Victoria). Director: Aaron Joyner. Musical Director: Sophie Thomas. 29 August -10 September, 2011.

Fans of the late 60s sensation The Mamas and The Papas will relish this historical tour of their turbulent off-stage lives, and the revival of a unique musical brand. Behind the backdrop to hits like California Dreamin’, Monday Monday, Words of Love, Creeque Alley and Dedicated to the One I Love, band members forged a self-destructive path of drugs, sex, deceit, alcoholism, over-eating, and a debilitating love-triangle.

The Hamlet Apocalypse

La Boite Indie and The Danger Ensemble. Roundhouse Theatre (Qld). 24 Aug – 10 Sept 2011.

I am not bound to please thee with my answers. William Shakespeare.

This quote from the show’s promotions informs my impressions here.

I cannot accept that theatre should be nihilist. What happened onstage reflected what we experienced in a 70s QTC actor/director training course that included Geoffrey Rush, Bille Brown and a nun in our class of 20 plus. Explorations were no-holds-barred but, while valuable to us participants, outcomes were not exposed to the public for their criticism.

Animal Farm

Shake & Stir’s adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 23 Aug – 2 Sept 2011.

For students and teachers of Animal Farm this production is solid gold. A general public audience may find it less engaging because of the connecting narrations.

Caps off to Nick Skubij, listed as ‘the adaptor,’ and the company improvisations that obviously informed rehearsals under director and dramaturg, multi-awarded Michael Futcher.

In singlets, black jeans and boots the cast managed to portray their characters clearly with sounds and simple typical animal actions.

Down Dangerous Passes Road

By Michel Marc Bouchard. Director: Sean Scanlon. Broken Mirror Studios, Brunswick. August 14 to 28, 2011.

Michel Marc Bouchard’s Down Dangerous Passes Road is such a beautifully written play, and so complex, that it begs to be seen more than once. Told in dreamy, poetic language, it centres on three estranged brothers who are forced to confront their past as they wait for rescue on a lonely stretch of road in Quebec.

The Book of Everything

By Richard Tulloch, adapted from the novel by Guus Kuijer. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide. 17 to 27 August, 2011.

The Book Of Everything is a tale of childhood naivety and discovery. Based on Dutch author Guus Kuijer’s 2004 children’s novel Het boek van alle dingen, it presents the narrative of Thomas Klopper, a precocious nine (almost ten) year old living in 1950’s Amsterdam.

The child of a repressed and religious family, he survives via his gloriously overactive imagination, insatiable curiosity and heart of gold.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

By Tennessee Williams. Co-production by Queensland Theatre Company & Black Swan State Theatre Company. Playhouse, QPAC. August 15 - September 3, 2011

Kate Cherry’s is a superlative modern examination of the Tennessee Williams’ 1955 Pulitzer Prize winner.

Space here limits me to revelations – issues that the astute direction and inspired performances attracted my attention:

The strong themes, mendacity and avarice, never loomed more clearly. Cherry’s actors cut through the smoke-and-mirrors of life in Williamson’s American Deep South where keeping up genteel appearances was so important.

The Mercy Seat

By Neil La Bute. DoLittle Productions. Sidetrack Theatre, Marrickville. August 20 – September 3, 2011.

The biblical Mercy Seat rests on the Ark of the Covenant and is connected to the atonement rituals of Yom Kippur. Nick Cave’s song The Mercy Seat also calls for forgiveness – and it is the words of this song that echo eerily in the final moments of Neil La Bute’s play at the Sidetrack Theatre:  and in a way I’m yearning to be done with all this measuring of truth

Shakespeare's Will

By Vern Thiessen. The Old 505 Theatre, 505/324 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. Director: Gareth Boylan. August 14 – 21. Sydney Fringe season – September 8 - 11, 2011.

Kismet

By Robert Wright and George Forrest, adapted from the music of Alexander Borodin. The Production Company. State Theatre, the Arts Centre, Melbourne. Director: Terence O’Connell. Musical Director: Peter Casey. Choreographer: Alana Scanlan. August 17 – 21, 2011.

Kismet is a big show, so not often tackled by the amateur companies, and unlikely to be produced professionally. Hence it was an ideal vehicle for a semi-staged production by The Production Company, and they did it well. Orchestra Victoria provided the biggest orchestra they have used, and they were in fine form under the excellent Peter Casey, who combined rhythmic vitality with lyrical phrasing.

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