Reviews

The Piano Diaries

Written and performed by Joanna Weinberg. Tuggeranong Arts Centre (ACT). June 29-30, 2012.

Joanna Weinberg engaged the audience from the first moment she strode out onto the stage wearing glam red sparkles in this one-woman cabaret, which was driven by lively music and memories revived by a grandmother’s piano. At first the stories come from the exotic, earlier part of the performer's life. The daughter of two penniless career musicians, she spent her childhood playing under her grandmother’s piano.

The Pearlfishers

By Georges Bizet. Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. July 4 – August 4, 1012.

Bizet’s beautiful music, amazingly pure voices and stunning lighting on an imaginative set make the very tenuous plot of The Pearlfishers almost credible. But then, it’s the music and voices that it’s all about!

Charcoal Creek

By Marcel Dorney. Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong (NSW). June 5 – 16, 2012.

Merrigong Theatre Company’s staging of playwright Marcel Dorney’s original work Charcoal Creek was an intimate take on the darker side of Australia’s early history.

Director Anne-Louise Rentell and her team have put together a flawless production.

The opening sequence begins with Brigid’s (Catherine Moore) observations of the world around her, sometimes amusing, envious and a general reflection of life in the Illawarra.

Terrain

Bangarra Dance Theatre (NSW). Artistic Director: Stephen Page. Choreographer: Frances Rings. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse.June 29 – July 7, 2012. Further tour dates: Sydney Opera House, 18 July – 18 Aug; IPAC, Wollongong, 24 – 25 Aug; Adelaide Festival Centre, 29 Aug – 1 Sep; Canberra Theatre Centre, 13 – 15 Sep; QPAC, Brisbane, 3 – 7 Oct.

Bangarra Dance Theatre’s latest work Terrain is a reminder of the necessity to leave alone what is left of Mother Earth. Not that this is the ardent message of the performance but rather an exploration of our innate longing to connect with our natural world and experience its potential power to awaken us to something beyond ourselves – no better expressed than through the spirituality of Indigenous traditional culture.

La Voix Humaine

By Jean Cocteau. La Boite Indie & Motherboard Productions. Roundhouse Theatre, Brisbane. 27 June – 14 July, 2012.

This play is a challenge that will appeal to theatregoers who prefer ‘intellectually stimulating theatre’ to ‘a show where you relax and be entertained.’

Cocteau’s 1930s original was concerned with the telephone, a new invention, which presented a convenient barrier between people in seriously personal situations who normally would have to cope in face-to-face and eye-to-eye resolutions. Eighty years later we have a whole raft of new technologies to help us twist out of such awkward relationships.

Die tote Stadt

By Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Paul Schott. Opera Australia. Director: Bruce Beresford. Conducted by Christian Badea. June 30 – July 18, 2012.

This was a truly extraordinary and ground-breaking production for Opera Australia. Die tote Stadt is an intense and beautiful opera, yet almost one hundred years after its first performance this was the Australian premiere.  The opera was composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold in his early twenties. He went on to win two Academy Awards for his film scores.    

PORN.CAKE

By Vanessa Bates. Griffin Theatre Company, SBW Stables Theatre, Darlinghurst (NSW) . Director: Shannon Murphy.Designer:Justin Nardella.Lighting Designer: Teegan Lee.Sound Designer: Steve Toulmin.20 June to 14 July 2012.

Let them eat cake

PORN.CAKE bakes away on stage for 85 minutes and unfolds as a bizarre, mysterious and somewhat messy blend of masturbation, procrastination and mastication. Cake features strongly throughout.

Simply Barbra

Steven Brinberg. Chapel off Chapel – Melbourne, June 28 – 30, 2012; Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, July 6.

I saw Barbra Streisand in Cabaret last night….no, not the film, that was Liza Minnelli. I mean cabaret…Barbra….really! You don’t believe me?  I recognised the voice, the nails, the black dress, the slightly nasal Bronx intonation, the nuances, the beautiful head-notes; The expressions; the impeccable professionalism. It had to be Barbra….so how come they wanted $795 a ticket on her last tour?

Accidental Death of an Anarchist

By Dario Fo. Epicentre Theatre Company. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. June 22 – 30, 2012.

True to Fo’s commedia style and didactic humour, this production is bright, fast and Funny. It mixes traditional and contemporary slapstick, adds live music, a song and some running gags, but still keeps the sting of Fo’s satirical message to the ordinary man.

Death of a Salesman

By Arthur Miller. Belvoir Theatre, Sydney. Director: Simon Stone. 23 June – 19 August, 2012.

Colin Friels playing tragically deluded Willy Loman sounded so good the Belvoir season was extended to eight weeks well before opening night and tickets are being sold in record numbers. No worries, Friels is magnificent. Never off the broad and mainly empty stage, he suffers, squirms, regrets and rages throughout an ever deteriorating ‘dark night of the soul’ in a volcanic performance guaranteed to win the year’s Best Actor awards.

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