Reviews

Sidesault at the Melba 2019: A Festival of Experimental Circus.

Circus OZ, Melba Speigeltent, 35 Johnston St, Collingwood. 7-17 November, 2019.

The festival is comprised of six performances showcasing both individual and group shows. Spit, Invisible Things and Never... Calm Down! are three shows which can be seen from 7-10 November. The shows are all very different from one another, in both tone and content, but each one tests the boundaries of circus and cabaret performance art. The ideas are provocative, the performances are edgy, and even sometimes confronting.

Cosi

By Louis Nowra. Sydney Theatre Company. Directed by Sarah Goodes. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Nov 1 - Dec 14, 2019

Sitting in the theatre next to a former psychiatric nurse, she was struck by how accurate the illnesses portrayed in the play were to real life. One “patient” in the drama was suffering from depression, another was bipolar, one suffered from an eating disorder, there is also drug addiction, pyromania, a patient afflicted by obsessive compulsive behaviour and another with a chronic shyness and social anxiety disorder. Any closer to home and my companion might have hopped onto the stage and completed a pill round. 

The Year of Magical Thinking

By Joan Didion, adapted from her memoir. Directed by Lawrence Strangio. Fortyfivedownstairs. 31 October - 17 November, 2019

Early in this eighty-five minute monologue, Joan Didion (via Jillian Murray) quotes her husband, John Gregory Dunne: ‘Why must you always have the last word?

Doubt: A Parable

By John Patrick Shanley. The Theatre on Chester, Epping, NSW. November 1 – 22, 2019

John Patrick Shanley’s 2004 play is set in 1964 in America, but it could have been set here or in the UK, or anywhere in Europe, because the ‘doubts’ it exposes about child abuse had been whispered about and covered up by families and churches and other institutions long before 1964.

Director Carla Moore suggests that the year is symbolic because it marks the introduction of the American Civil Rights Act and Vatican II’s more relaxed image of the Catholic Church – both symbolic of the fact that the 1960s was a time of political and social change.

The Merry Wives of The Merchant of Venice (or Windsor)

By William Shakespeare. The Raw Shakespeare Project. Tapanappa Wines (SA). Saturday 2 November, 2019. Continuing at various venues until November 22.

The Merry Wives of The Merchant of Venice (or Windsor) is an evening devoted to the presentation of two specially adapted and truncated versions of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

There are many things about this Raw Shakespeare Project’s production that are wonderful, not least it being performed under the banner of ‘Shakespeare in the Vines’ at a number of South Australian vineyards, including Tapanappa Wines in the Adelaide Hills, which is where this production premiered.

Confusions

By Alan Ayckbourn. PAANDA. Directed by Troy Coelho, Hannah Quaden, Anna Stewart, Ella Gorringe and Cat Acres. 25 Mouat St, Fremantle. Oct 31 - Nov 9, 2019

Confusions by Alan Ayckbourn is a series of five interconnected one act plays. The plays are all loosely linked to the play before them by characters or location, and also through the shared themes of isolation, obsession and the human need for connection.

Lyrical Reflections

Southern Cross Soloists. Violin: Amalia Hall. Concert Hall, QPAC. 3 November, 2019.

Tim Hall’s “Cry Stone Walls” of the Yorkshire dales is a perfect image to adorn the cover of Southern Cross Soloists final program for the year, Lyrical Reflections, featuring as it does two iconic works from English composers Elgar and Vaughn Williams.

Ragtime - the Musical

Book by Terence McNally. Music Stephen Flaherty. Lyrics Lynn Ahrens. Based on the novel Ragtime by E L Doctorow. The Production Company. State Theatre, Arts Centre, Melbourne. 2 - 10 November 2019

For what looks like being The Production Company’s second last show, they have mounted a sumptuous, all-stops-out Ragtime - a cast of thirty (including twelve ensemble), a twenty piece orchestra under Guy Noble, choreography by Dana Jolly, wonderful period (1900s east coast USA) costumes by Isaac Lummus - and a deceptively simple but clever stage design by Christina Smith.  The period and key, iconic locations (Ellis Island, Atlantic City boardwalk and beach, a mansion at New Rochelle) are established by original black and white photographs projected on a huge cyclorama.

Bright Star

Music, Book & Story by Steve Martin. Music, Lyrics & Story by Edie Brickell. Pursued By Bear Theatre Company. Director: Mark Taylor. Musical Director: Nathan Firmin. Choreographer: Freya List. Chapel Off Chapel. October 25-November 3, 2019.

It's not every day that you see a small scale local musical and come out thinking that not even Broadway could do this any better. Eclipsed by the musical Hamilton on Broadway, this little-known stage show by actor/musician Steve Martin & singer Edie Brickell is finally getting to 'shine bright' thanks to companies like Pursued By Bear. Inspired by a real event, Bright Star tells a tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920's and '40's.

My Home At The Intersection

By Abishek Thapar. OzAsia Festival. Festival Theatre: Rehearsal Room. November 2nd and 3rd, 2019

Director, writer and performer Abishek Thapar has a tale to tell, and it spans back over 30 years. It is a tale of personal reflection, redemption and self-healing that is told using photographs, video film, slides and deeply personal, carefully paced story telling. This Australian premiere is a unique piece of performance that can only be told by Thapar, for it is his story.

Born in the Indian province of Punjab, Thapar’s story details family history, heritage and loss, starkly framed in times of war and political and religious unrest.

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