Reviews

Hamlet

By William Shakespeare. Melbourne Theatre Company. Sumner Theatre. 19 July to 31 August 2011.

Each new production of Hamlet brings with it fresh enlightenments and this absorbing, fast paced, modern day production directed by Simon Phillips is no exception. 

It is early days for this season but the skeletal bones are most skilfully placed, to be richly fleshed out, in the fullness of time, by a well-chosen, consummate cast.

Misery

Adapted by Simon Moore from the Stephen King novel. Bakehouse Theatre Company. Bakehouse Theatre – 21 Jul to 6 Aug.

Adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name, this incredibly difficult two-hander play has been courageously produced in the Bakehouse Theatre by Peter Green, under the direction of Michael Allen. Cast in the two roles, Joanne Hartstone as Annie Wilkes and John Maurice as writer Paul Sheldon do an outstanding job.

Of Mice and Men

Libretto and Music by Carlisle Floyd. Based on the novella by John Steinbeck. Director: Bruce Beresford. Conductor: Andrea Molino. Opera Australia. Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. July 23 - August 11, 2011. Melbourne season in November, 2011.

Bruce Beresford was asked what he would like to direct for Opera Australia and his first choice was Of Mice and Men. It’s not hard to see why a director with a strong film background would be inspired by the score.

Here is a piece of music with cinematic intensity. You did not leave whistling the tunes but the richness of the orchestration - ranging from shrieks of terror to deep melancholy - was a whole of body experience.

At the curtain call the composer Carlisle Floyd, looking a little wobbly at the age of 85, was given a well-deserved ovation.

The Maids

By Jean Genet. Q Theatre, Penrith (NSW) – July 16 to 30, 2011. Regional NSW Tour Aug 1 – 6.

French playwright Jean Genet’s early life was miserable. Abandoned by parents, rejected by foster parents, he became a run-away who spent his teen years in and out of gaol for stealing and male prostitution. Disillusion and oppression fill his works. They are more existentialist than Absurd, filled with ritual, illusion and identity change, and little lightness.

Belong

ID by Stephen Page & About by Elma Kris. Bangarra Dance Theatre. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, July 20 – Aug 20; Heath Ledger Theatre, Perth, Aug 25 – 28; Canberra Theatre Centre, Sep 2 – 3; IMB Theatre, IPAC, Sep 8 – 10; Playhouse, the Arts Centre, Melbourne, Sep 15 – 24.

What is aboriginality? It’s a big question and one that Bangarra’s Belong tries to address.

In an environment when the national debate has touched on this issue - usually by those of non-aboriginal descent - it is appropriate and relevant for the nation’s most respected indigenous dance company to respond.

 

Improvention 2011 Performance Showcase

The Street Theatre (ACT). 18–24 July 2011

I've reviewed impro theatre in these pages before, but I'd never seen a "longform" improvisation until this week, when I attended an evening containing two such in a week-long impro festival, and they opened my eyes to something beyond the quick-wittedness that is trained into impro performers.

Cole Porter’s Anything Goes

The Production Company. State Theatre, the Arts Centre, Melbourne. Directors: Andrew Hallsworth & Dean Bryant. Musical Director: Peter Casey. Choreographer: Andrew Hallsworth. July 20 – 24, 2011.

The opening night of The Production Company’s staging of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes was a delightful romp. The set, on board an ocean liner, consisted of two decks, the lower one being a metre above stage level, giving plenty of height. The orchestra was placed unobtrusively on the lower deck.

The professional cast was obviously enjoying themselves and tackled the work with enthusiasm. The whole company did an amazing tap dance to the title tune as the finale to the first act. The direction and choreography were excellent.

My Romantic History

By D.C. Jackson Red Stitch Actors Theatre (Vic). July 13 – August 13, 2011.

Written by emerging Scottish playwright D.C. Jackson, My Romantic History is a crisp and clever social satire.  It explores the universal theme of ‘the girlfriend – boyfriend thing’ – dating and finding a life partner and could just as easily be set in Melbourne, sometime in the last forty years, as anywhere.  It is full of delightful quips, unexpected insights and satisfying character trajectories.

The Last Five Years

By Jason Robert Brown. Stories Like These. Director: Luke Rogers. Musical Director: Mark Chamberlain. The Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre (NSW). July 13 – 30, 2011.

Earlier this year American composer / lyricist Jason Robert Brown toured Australia, giving consummate interpretations of his musical theatre songs in a series of concerts.

Now Sydney is seeing a professional production of his musical The Last Five Years. Also tagged as a song cycle, it’s full of the sort of truthful, intuitive character songs Brown shared with audiences across the country.

Queensland Music Festival

July 15 - 31, 2011
The Little Green Road to Fairyland.

Old Museum, Brisbane. 15-16 July 2011.

So much entertainment royalty is involved in this newly commissioned work: Composer Elena Katz-Chernin; Choreographer/Director Rosetta Cook; Orchestra The Southern Cross Soloists(augmented), under the baton of Sarah-Grace Williams; Soloist Katie Noonan; Narrator Christine Johnston; and eight dancers, some nationally and internationally acclaimed.

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