Reviews

Impure Thoughts

Written and performed by Claire Healy. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tasma Terrace, East Melbourne. April 3rd to 22nd 2017

Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) is as much about Melbourne and its glorious tucked away theatres as it is about the abundance and variety of talent that comes from all over the world to entertain us for a month in blissful Autumn weather.  It’s madness if you don’t get out and see at least one show, if not ten, there is so much happening.

The Drowsy Chaperone

Music & Lyrics: Lisa Lambert & Greg Morrison. Book: Bob Martin & Don McKellar. Holroyd Musical and Dramatic Society. Director: Samwise Holmes. Musical Director: Todd Jacobs. Choreography: Candice Docker. Redgum Centre. 31 Mar - 8 Apr, 2017.

This is a lively and fun production and, despite some rough spots, has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. The show-within-a-show format is well realised. Although Samwise Holmes is well-experienced performing on stage and in the pit, this is his first time as director, and he does a great job in not only bringing the show to life but keeping it chugging along at a fast-but-not-too-fast pace.

It Shoulda Been You

Music by Barbara Anselmi, with book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove. Chatswood Musical Society. Independent Theatre, North Sydney. March 31 – April 8, 2017

2015 Broadway musical It Shoulda Been You often feels like pure musical comedy, yet it’s also a snappy marital musical farce, with frequent nods to vaudeville. While there’s a lot that’s old-fashioned about this show, especially many of the gags, it also has a joyous and contemporary take on families and marriage. The maternal wrangling over an inter-religion Catholic / Jewish marriage is one fairly obvious plot twist among many, though I’m loathe to discuss plot any further and risk the minefield of potential spoilers.

Trelawny of the Wells

By Arthur Wing Pinero. Canberra Repertory. Directed by Tony Turner. Theatre 3, Acton A.C.T. 29 March – 9 April 2017

Rose Trelawny farewells her theatrical colleagues at the Wells theatre in order to spend time living, on probation, with her imminent in-laws, only to discover that people in that world don’t exaggerate every mannerism, emotion, and word as her company has always done on the stage — and that her in-laws are unbearable.  Returning to the stage with a compulsion to portray her characters more realistically finds her at odds with the theatre management, to her cost.

 

Squeaky Clean Comedy 

Candlelight Productions. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Melbourne City Conference Centre, 333 Swanston Street, Melbourne. 1, 7 & 8 April, 2017.

Squeaky Clean Comedy includes a culturally diverse line-up of award-winning comedians. This show is specifically designed as a family friendly event keeping the humour suitable for all ages. The humour is never watered down and the innuendo remains in a diplomatic and tasteful sphere. Michael Connell is a masterful MC and he keeps the show going at a cracking and hilarious pace. The individual acts provide a fabulous opportunity to see a variety of performers currently participating in the Comedy Festival and provides a real showcase of Australian and NZ talent.

Ladies in Black

Book by Carolyn Burns. Music and lyrics by Tim Finn. Queensland Theatre. Directed by Simon Phillips. Canberra Theatre Centre. 28 March – 2 April 2017

The Canberra Theatre Centre's "Collected Works" series has captured many marvels, Ladies in Black being the most lightheartedly musical in a while. It may be said to be a tale of little plot, and is most readily summed up as light musical comedy, but the many characters whose lives you will share will easily steal into your heart.

 

The Play That Goes Wrong

By Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields. Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, with Kenny Wax Limited, Stage Presence Ltd, ABA International Touring, in association with David Atkins Enterprises. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, March 30-April 2, 2017; Sydney, April 5-23; Canberra, April 25-30; Brisbane, May 4-14; Perth, May 31-June 11.

For some in the audience it possibly takes a while to ‘get’ this production because it’s really a ‘play within a play’.

The Play That Goes Wrong  is a title that covers what in fact is a horribly bad production of a murder mystery put on by amateurs, who themselves are played by The Play That Goes Wrong’s supremely skilled professional actors. These professionals demonstrate some of the best physical comedy you’re ever likely to see.

Once in Royal David’s City

By Michael Gow. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Directed by Sam Strong. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Perth WA. 25 Mar - 9 Apr, 2017

Michael Gow’s latest play Once in Royal David’s City, a Christmas play with a difference, makes its WA premiere performed by Black Swan State Theatre Company and Queensland Theatre.

A show that frequently draws on the influence of Bertolt Brecht in the narrative - it is significantly Brechtian in style, but borrows from a range of theatrical styles to tell a story that deals with the loss of a loved family member. Despite the subject matter, this is a show of joy and light.

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Bruce Widdop & Matt Young, presented by OZ ACT. Geelong Botanic Gardens. 14 & 15 January 2017.

The dark aspects of the play give limited scope for a more light-hearted approach. Yet, while still exploring the descent into evil that Macbeth (Andy Delves) undergoes, OZ ACT manages to keep the play in a relatively unthreatening sphere. Delves makes the spiralling descent from decency to depravity an interesting journey.

Two

By Jim Cartwright. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Mark Kilmurry. 29 March – 6 May, 2017

Written in 1989, Jim Cartwright’s Two often crops up in England’s regional theatres. With its small cast (2) and one optional setting (the pub can be as present as your budget allows), the play is a blessing for cash-strapped companies everywhere. 

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