Reviews

Zander’s Boat

By Grace Barnes. Q44 Theatre, Abbottsford Convent. 22 October – 3 November 2019

‘We tell stories in Shetland – we’re good at that.  It’s a place full of darkness… Stories can fill that dark with light and banish the shadows hiding there, waiting.’  So Edith (Suzanne Heywood, also the director) tells us at the start of this play.  And indeed, it is a play of stories, told in monologues which run parallel, never interweaving or intersecting, told by three women of three generations of the Shetland Isles.  But it begins with an evocation of the myths and mysteries of the Shetlands, tales of seals – or

Orpheus & Eurydice

Music: Christop Willibald Gluck. Libretto: Ranieri de’ Calzabigi. Conductor: Dane Lam. Director: Yaron Lifschitz. Opera Queensland. Circa Ensemble. Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Playhouse Theatre, QPAC. 24 October – 9 November 2019

When Gluck composed his version of the ‘Orpheus’ legend in 1762, there were fourteen other operas on the same subject, but Gluck’s version cut a swathe of originality across the then existing opera landscape for its revolutionary style and form and became enormously influential on the genre.

Opera Queensland’s production mirrored the originality of the original concept in an austere and thoroughly engrossing production which married the resources of the company with those of Brisbane’s internationally famed Circa ensemble.

The Yeomen of the Guard

By WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of WA. Directed by Michael Brett. Dolphin Theatre, University of Western Australia. Oct 24 - Nov 2, 2019

Billed as “Passion, intrigue and fabulous moustaches”, The Yeomen of the Guard is a fun and vibrant directorial debut for Michael Brett. A 16th century romp that rivals Shakespeare plots for confused identities, it proves fun for both the performers and audience.

Barry Boyd has designed a set that nicely conjures the Tower of London, and we are transported back to the early 1500s by the costumes provided by Veronica Hudson and her team, with the “title” costumes adding lovely flair.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue

By Neil Simon. Galleon Theatre Group, Adelaide. Domain Theatre, Marion Cultural Centre. October 24 – November 2, 2019

Mel Edison is a middle-aged, middle-class advertising account executive and he is having a very bad time. His employer is on the verge of bankruptcy. His 14th floor apartment is cracking and he can’t sleep because the air conditioning is faulty. Through the paper thin walls he can hear his neighbours' romantic encounters and he can’t open the windows without being overwhelmed by the noise and smell of downtown Manhattan.

Lobby Hero

By Kenneth Lonergan. Around the Moon Productions. Fortyfivedownstairs, Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 22 – 27 October 2019

It all happens with just four characters, across two nights in the lobby of a mid-level, rather shabby Manhattan apartment building and on the street just outside. 

Il Viaggio a Reims

By Rossini. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. October 24 – November 2, 2019

Composed by Rossini in 1825 to celebrate the coronation of King Charles X of France, Il Viaggio a Reims (The Journey to Reims), contains some of Rossini’s most impressive music. Though the plot is simple, the music is difficult and challenging for the orchestra and the cast of ten soloists and eight smaller roles. Yet after four performances, Rossini pulled the score apart and the manuscript was lost until various pieces of it were reconstructed by American musicologists Philip Gossett and Janet Johnson in 1983.

Coming Through

Irina Kuzminsky. The Butterfly Club, Melbourne. October 21 – 26, 2019

Coming Through is a new show from Irina Kuzminsky (aka Irinunshka) that takes us on a mystical feminist journey into a multi- disciplinary art performance, combining dance, song, and poetry.

The show is divided into three sections that ruminate on grief, death and rebirth.  Her dance performance is the central force and provides an esoteric exploration of female empowerment within the traditions of classical ballet, contemporary dance and yoga movements.

Baby Doll

By Tennessee Williams, adapted for the stage by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Oct 18 – Nov 16, 2019

To promote his 1956 film of Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll, director Elia Karzan ordered what was the largest billboard in the world.  The massive image of a pouting, nubile teenager thumb-sucking in her crib caused a scandal; audiences flocked but the critical response was muted. 

Pierre Laville and Emily Mann recently adapted Baby Doll for the stage, returning us to that Mississippi hothouse where the loutish Archie Lee waits impatiently to bed his new wife but, as promised to her late father, only when she turns 20.  

What The Day Owes To The Night

OzAsia Festival. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide. October 22-23, 2019

What the Day Owes to the Night is quite simply a triumph!

Inspired by the revelation of French choreographer Herve Koubi that his ancestry is ethnic Algerian and not French as he believed, What the Day Owes to the Night utilises a bare stage and 13 men from Algeria, Morocco, France (whose first name is Giovanni), Italy and Israel.

They are bare chested and wear long white pants with a layered skirt over the top. These skirts swirl in white circles and can provide safe surfaces on which other performers can lay down, or to mop up perspiration.

Mansion

Written, directed & produced by Bass G Fam. Labassa Mansion, 2 Manor Grove, Caulfield North. 17 October - 3 November 2019.

As the publicity suggests this is not for the faint of heart. The horrific elements of this show may initially appear to be innocuous or even amusing, however, chills running down your spine are guaranteed by the end of the show.

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