Reviews

The Imperial Bells Of China: Chimes In Concert

Hubei Opera Company. Producers Hubei Provincial Performing Arts Group. Ausfeng Event Productions. Conductor Zhou Wen. Concertmaster Hu Jian. Melbourne Recital Centre 20 July 2017; Sydney Opera House, 23 July.

When a collection of bronze and stone bells and chimes were unearthed at the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng’s tomb in Sui County, Hubei Province in China in 1978, the most celebrated discovery was the bianzhong, possibly the oldest functioning twelve-tone instrument in existence.

The ‘Chimes In Concert’ program is a study in uncommonly heard timbres including the bianzhong. The program features a range of traditional instruments, such as se, chi, drum and banjo, as well as vocalists, bamboo flute and several pieces featuring the highly prized chimes.

Constellations

By Nick Payne. The Street Theatre. Directed by Caroline Stacey. The Street, Canberra. 15–29 July 2017

It’s a rare delight to attend a play whose performance is as convincing as that by Jenkins and Lexi Sekuless in Constellations.  The mental agility necessary to convey the varying significance in consecutively played word-identical scenes several times in a row and in many alternatives to the one scene with little to no break between them was impressive; the memory necessary to replay all the variations one after another must be prodigious.  And this cast of two pulled it

The Association

By Perri Cummings with Lee McClenaghan & Jennifer Monk. Girls Act Good. 64 Pentland Avenue, Yarraville. 18 – 30 July 2017

The venue, 64 Pentland Avenue, is a modest weatherboard cottage in suburban Yarraville.  Its porchlight beams through the shadows.  We – the audience, eight or nine of us - stand outside in the cold evening street.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Directed by Mike Finch. The Funatorium. Canberra Theatre Centre. July 12 – 15, 2017

“You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are” – Lewis Carroll

Welcome to the entirely bonkers world of the funniest tea party ever imagined. With colour, movement, humour and astonishing acts, this cabaret is a delight for everyone from 5 to 105.  Alice isn’t in this version of Wonderland.  Rather, we the audience get to experience the tea party as if we were Alice. 

9 to 5 The Musical

Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. Book by Patricia Resnick, based on the screenplay by Resnick and Colin Higgins. Canterbury Theatre Guild, Nida Theatre’s Playhouse. July 14th-22nd 2017.

Canterbury Theatre Guild’s production of 9 to 5 The Musical, based on the movie of the same name, was a delightful afternoon at the theatre.

The production was brought to life by a talented cast of 22, which nicely filled the compact space at NIDA. The highly entertaining script and score by Dolly Parton and Patricia Resnick is hilarious and really gives the audience an inside view of office life in the 1980’s for three women, working for a rude and very sexist boss at the fictional setting of “Consolidated Industries”.

Blanc de Blanc

Strut & Fret. Aurora Spiegeltent at MAP57 – St Kilda’s Winter Garden. 15 June – 30 July 2017.

Settle in for a night of French-themed folly, full of saucy humour. This adults-only show brings together world-class circus and cabaret performers including unreasonably good looking MC Monsieur Romeo, wonderfully weird clown Spencer Novich and an array of bendy beauties to tickle your senses.

Noises Off

By Michael Frayn. Melbourne Theatre Company in partnership with Queensland Theatre. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 8 July – 12 August 2017.

As the title suggests, this play gives the audience a chance to hear, and see, what goes on offstage during a performance. Full of innuendo and fast-paced physical comedy, this is a show for those with a penchant for old-school British comedy. What begins as a series of close calls, deteriorates into outright disaster. It is every theatre person’s worst nightmares jam packed into one show.

Oliver!

Music and lyrics by Lionel Bart. CenterStage. Director: David Mackay. Musical Director: Phil Kearney. Choreographer: Michelle McDowall. Set Design: David Greenwood. Geelong, Victoria. Geelong Performing Arts Centre. July 14 - July 29, 2017

You asked for more… more CenterStage Geelong… and you’ve got it, in this colourful version of a classic musical.

Lionel Bart based his musical on either the novel, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, or David Lean’s 1948 film version of that book (no one is sure which). Either way, Oliver! tells the story of an orphan boy who flees indentured servitude to find his fortune.

Lady Windermere’s Fan

By Oscar Wilde. Directed by Greg Scurr Nash Theatre, New Farm. July 14 – August 5, 2017.

This interplay between various levels of society in a sea of gossip and scandal which causes both outrage and indignation makes for an interesting interpretation of this play, first produced in 1892.  Wilde set the play initially in London but director Greg Scurr has it in Brisbane in the summer of 1954. This meant the audience could relate to their own town, understand the accents and know the music played for background and atmosphere. For the most part, it worked well.

Raising ‘Ell!

Ella Filar. The Butterfly Club. July 12 – 16, 2017

This cabaret claims to chart a descent into Internet Hell.  The seven deadly sins in 2017 are now Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, Grindr and Youtube.   Ella Filar’s thesis is: “Are we real or VIRTUALOnce we’ve been posted, pinged, tweeted and swiped right, left and right again…..”

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