Reviews

Jigsaws by Jennifer Rogers

Director: Sue Hayward. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana, WA. February 12 – 27

This Western Australian play was one of a surge of locally written plays of late, and at over twenty years of age it is the grandmother of the bunch. Now presented as somewhat of a ‘period piece’, its issues of sisterhood, and mother and daughter relationships, remain pertinent for a new generation. Set in the home of matriarch Emma, and her sister Nelly (which for me screamed South Perth or Como), the stage was beautifully dressed, while costumes nicely revealed both character and era.

The Return by Reg Cribb

Director: Jeff Hansen. Melville Theatre, Palmyra, WA. February 12 – 27

The Return seems to be becoming one of Perth’s most frequently performed plays – and little wonder; this locally relevant script is a delight for theatre companies. Having said that, it seemed an odd choice for Melville – there have been some excellent recent versions and Melville’s regular audience seem to prefer something a little gentler. Jeff Hanson made some different directorial choices and the style of this show was distinct. A quality cast performing on a very realistic set overrode the few directional choices that did not quite gel.

Flatspin by Alan Ayckbourn

Director: Geoffrey Borny. Canberra Repertory Society. 5 – 20 March

Girl meets boy. Girl concocts elaborate lie to seduce boy. Girl finds herself up to her ears in a drugs bust. Farce ensues. Canberra Rep is in top form with Flatspin, the second of Alan Ayckbourn's Damsels in Distress trilogy. Lainie Hart is feisty and vulnerable as daft, sexually frustrated, unemployed actress Rosie, Ross Walker is rather gorgeous as would-be love interest Sam, Jerry Hearn plays dapper boss Maurice as Jonathan Quayle Higgins III from Magnum PI, and Rob de Fries draws howls of laughter with his hysterical turn as Tommy, a dimwitted ex-army thick-neck.

Mortal Engine. Chunky Move.

Director and Choreographer Gideon Obarzanek; Interactive System Designer Frieder Weiss; Laser and Sound Artist Robin Fox; Composer Ben Frost; Costume Designer Paula Lewis; Lighting Designer Damien Cooper; With Kristy Ayre, Sara Black, Marnie Palomares, Lee Serle, James Shannon, Adam Synott, Jorijn Vriesendorp. The Merlyn Theatre at the Malthouse, Melbourne until 13 March, then Sydney Theatre, 5–15 May, 2010.

This piece of dance, multimedia and physical theatre uses the synergy of lighting, sound and video infused with movement, dance and performance. Gideon Obarzanek has created a masterpiece by integrating the energies of both machines and mortals. Utilising modernity in the form of ‘computer art’ by interactive system designer, Frieder Weiss, lighting design from Damien Cooper and laser and sound from Robin Fox produces a work that is not only mesmerizing but hypnotic and remarkable.

Burn the Floor

The Palms at Crown Melbourne. Choreographer: Jason Gilkison.

The international dance sensation has toured the globe for ten years from London to Tokyo and on Broadway where it became a hit in July, 2009 Now Burn the Floor is exciting audiences in Australia.

Dracula.

Hobart Repertory Theatre. Based on Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula. Stage adaptation written by Hamilton Deane & John L Balderston. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. Director: Robert Jarman. Composer: Craig Wood.

Dracula: the name conjures images of sinister, blood-sucking vampires, the un-dead and terror. The novel written by Bram Stoker in 1897, on which so many plays and films have been based, has been extremely successful. Stoker worked at the Lyceum Theatre for 27 years for the famous actor-producer Sir Henry Irving as a box-office attendant, but turned his hand to stage managing and acting when needed. His stage play adaptation, Dracula or the Un-dead, was not initially successful.

Incompleteness

By Steven Schiller and Stephen Phillips. La Mama Theatre. March 3- March 14 2010. Director Steven Schiller.

A play about mathematical logic and the man regarded as one of the most influential mathematicians of all time may not exactly sound like your idea of an exhilarating night of theatre. However, Incompleteness at La Mama is one of those rare thrilling moments of theatre that neither words nor complicated mathematical equations can explain. I've never personally seen beauty in mathematics, but have always been fascinated when the likes of Pythagoras or Bertrand Russell describe the intense artistry and perfection they see within it.

Stepping Out by Richard Harris

1812 Theatre (Vic). Until March 27.

Stepping Out won the London Standard comedy award in 1984 and the programme describes it as a “highly entertaining comedy.” The show was certainly funny, but the strongest message for me concerned the external defenses we create to hide our true emotions. The two performers who affected me most were Garry Barcham and Donna Pope for their nervous portrayals of Geoffrey and Andy (long for ‘Ann’).

The Damnation of Faust by Berlioz

Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Gill

The Victorian Opera continued on its path in the less familiar operatic repertoire with Berlioz’s flawed masterpiece The Damnation of Faust. Called a Dramatic Legend, this “opera” has scenes which would only work in a film. So the decision was made to produce a concert performance with the chorus at the back and the soloists in front of the orchestra with scores in hand.

Living Together by Alan Ayckbourn

Cairns Little Theatre. Director: Narelle Shorey

Living Together is one of the trilogy, The Norman Conquests, three plays that cover a traumatic family weekend in a Victorian country house from the vantage point of three different areas: dining room, living room and garden. Living Together covers the action that takes place in the living room. The central character is Norman, a disheveled librarian, who is married to Ruth but fancies his sisters-in-law, Annie and Sarah. Annie, in turn, is being courted by Tom, a dim vet, while Sarah is frustrated with her marriage to the boring Reg.

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