Reviews

Houdini: The Man from Beyond

Music: Russell Bauer. Book & Lyrics: Bruce Dawe AO. USQ Artsworx. Opened USQ Arts Theatre, Toowoomba, Qld, 20 Aug 2010. Director: Sue Rider. Musical Director: Russell Bauer.

A charismatic performance by Chris White as the title character, some terrific illusions, and a nice tight production by Sue Rider were the big pluses of the new Australian musical, Houdini, trying out at the University of Southern Queensland Arts Theatre, Toowoomba. In 1910 Houdini became the first man to fly in Australia. Historical film footage of this event was used as an overture to set the mood of the piece.

M. The Scottish Play

eagle’s nest ThEATER. Studio 2, Northcote Town Hall (VIC). August 21 – 25

Director Peita Collard chose to frame her production of M. The Scottish Play in a Japanese J-Horror style due to her extensive experience with and love of all things Japanese. Initially a surprising choice, it swiftly became clear that this was a very logical and entertaining lens through which to view this classic text.

The set was comprised of a number of large bamboo-painted panels on wheels that allowed them to be moved to obscure or reveal actions and to change of locations.

She’s Not Performing by Alison Mann.

La Mama Theatre, Melbourne until September 5.

There’s an important new voice in Australian Theatre – and it is the voice of young playwright Alison Mann, whose first full-length play She’s Not Performing is an absolute ripper. ‘Issue-based’ theatre always has the potential to be sabotaged by its own worthiness, but not in the hands of this adventurous and marvelously talented young playwright and her dramaturg – Melbourne’s Mistress of psychosexual invention and efficiency, Maude Davey.

Tusk Tusk

By Polly Stenham. Sydney Theatre Company. Wharf Theatre. 14 August - 4 September

Sitting in the front row allows one to see everything, every detail or lack thereof. Tusk Tusk opened with promise but then within minutes lost me. I was in a constant state of wondering. Why are the characters doing this? Who is this person? I don’t know, but for some reason, this play just didn’t work for me. I’m putting it down to the writing.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics: Tim Rice. Harvest Rain. Playhouse, QPAC. (Qld). Aug 20 to 29. Director: Tim O’Connor. Musical Director: Maitlohn John

Do Not Go Gentle…

By Patricia Cornelius. Director: Julian Meyrick. Produced and Presented by fortyfivedownstairs (Vic.)

Do Not Go Gentle... is a delicately wrought and simply staged work that, all at once, evolves and develops as it peels and unravels. It addresses the often overlooked depth of personality and richness of experience embodied by the aged. The text’s blurring realities, of dreams, experience, desires and heartaches, are managed skilfully by a masterful creative crew, through an amalgam of realism and magic realism.

The Boy From Oz.

Music and Lyrics by Peter Allen. Book by Nick Enright. The Production Company, State Theatre, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne until August 22. Return seasons 5 to 16 January, and February 9 to 13, 2011 at The Arts Centre. March 2 to 17. Capitol Theatre, Sydney.

Having seen and loved the superb original Australian production of The Boy From Oz, I am still thoroughly entertained by the latest, somewhat scaled down version. There are, indeed, moments of absolute surprise and delight among the joys of revisiting an old favourite.

The Dream

deepblue orchestra. Canberra Theatre Centre, 13 August 2010

Deepblue promised to look like an orchestra, act like a band, feel like a movie. But it understated.

Enriching every piece were surprisingly well-synchronised visuals. And throughout moved the musicians: rarely in traditional poses, usually afoot, often dancing steps difficult even without an instrument occupying both hands. Deepblue capably sustained Barber's Adagio at a pace that treated the audience's sonic palate to the aural equivalent of golden syrup, butter, and wild blackberry.

An Enemy of the People

ActNow Theatre for Social Change – Ayers House Museum (SA)

Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s version of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People was charmingly set in the Ayers House Museum, amongst memorabilia, paintings, artifacts and architecture of a time gone by, and excepting for a few choice garments not particularly representative of the play’s era, was a convincing backdrop to the piece by ActNow Theatre for Social Change, directed by Edwin Kemp Atrill.

Kitty Flanagan - Charming & Alarming

The Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. August 13 - 21

What a gem, an absolute hoot, a woman with big hair who’s witty - That’s Kitty.

Normally I find I’m not a fan of the stand-up fem comedienne. I generally find that I just don’t find them as funny as men. Why? I don’t know. It’s not a sexist thing it’s just about what makes me laugh and what doesn’t.

Kitty Flanagan, however, has changed all that - she’s turned the tables for me and shifted my thinking. I’ve now become a ‘raving fan’ - I’ve touted, posted and twittered about how good Kitty is.

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