Reviews

City of Shadows

A Song Cycle of Murder, Misfortune and Forensics by Rachael Dease. For Helium – Malthouse. The Tower, Malthouse Theatre. September 21 to October 5, 2013.

The cumulative effect of City of Shadows is atmospheric, mystifying and fascinatingly haunting. It is something of a shared guilty pleasure to clinically contemplate projected forensic photographic records of disarmingly frank images of faces of the ‘wicked’ caught in that Grand Old Dame and ‘City of Sin’ – Sydney. 

The photographs are generally from the 1920s, an era with its evocative sense of romance still to this day intrinsically deeply embedded in the character and feel of Sydney.

The Phantom of the Opera

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Charles Hart. Directed by Col Peet. Miranda Musical Society. Sutherland Entertainment Centre. September 20 – 29, 2013.

It is a thrill to see a musical which is so fiendishly difficult to stage – produced with such panache by a community theatre for the first time in Sydney.

The Miranda Musical Society had the additional challenge of staging the work in a venue without a fly tower – which limited the famous chandeliers to a hoist -  and inadequate space for the orchestra.

Instead the audience could see the off stage musicians corralled next to the entrance to the dress circle, with the music piped back into the venue.  

Heart Thy Neighbour

By Camilla Maxwell. ReAction Theatre. Melbourne Fringe Festival. Director: Louise Howlett. September 18 – 27, 2013.

In a suburban back yard neighbours catch up over a barbeque and a few drinks, and a few more drinks, and we witness the effects of too much alcohol on a neighbourhood feud.

Annie

By Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. SQUIDS. Redcliffe Entertainment Centre (Q). 19 - 28 September 2013

This musical, based on Harold Gray’s 1930s comic strip featuring the feisty, ever-optimistic eleven-year-old red-haired orphan, Annie, gives us an insight into life and politics in New York during the Great Depression.

From a Black Sky

Composer, Sandra France; Librettist, Helen Nourse. The Street Theatre, Canberra. 20–22 September 2013

This modern opera, set in Canberra’s January 2003 bushfires, conveys modern materialist sentiments and emotional shallowness through appropriately banal lyrics and atonal music.

Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour

Cirque du Soleil. Directed by Jamie King. Perth Arena,WA. September 18-22, 2013 and touring to Sydney (26 to 29 September), Brisbane Entertainment Centre (2 to 6 October), Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena (9 to 13 October) and Adelaide Entertainment Centre (15 to 17 October).

For the first item of Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour, I was prepared to be disappointed. It appears to be going to be a fairly conventional concert, albeit a good one - with good quality dancing and aerials.

Do not go home. While it doesn't quite start with a whimper, this show grows exponentially with each number, so that it becomes overwhelmingly stunning.

The choreography is outstanding - tightly executed, it is inspired by the original Michael Jackson numbers. This show has huge appeal for dance fans.

Leo

Presented by arrangement with Arts Projects Australia for the Brisbane Festival. Brisbane Powerhouse. 17-22 September, 2013

If you've ever wondered how Fred Astaire conceived that memorable movie scene where he appears to dance on all the walls, ceiling and floor in one take, go and see this mesmerising, quirky one-man arthouse show.

on air! on air!

Written by Peter Maden. Spotlight Basement Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Director: Helen Maden. September 20 – October 5, 2013. World Premiere.

It’s not very often that the opportunity arises to witness history in the making, but the audience at last night’s World Premiere of on air! on air! experienced the opening of a new Australian play and the finished product of Peter Maden’s hysterical comedy.

Set in the advertising department of a metropolitan radio station – CHAOS FM, the action follows the workings of a busy (?) office where disaster seems to attract disaster!

Songs for Europe

Two short plays about Eurovision. Written by John Richards and Lee Zachariah. Directed by Lucas Testro. A Shaolin Punk Production at Broken Mirror, Brunswick. September 19 – 29, 2013 (Thursday to Sunday)

Most Melbourne fringe offerings are interesting; some are good, and occasionally one is excellent. Songs for Europe falls very distinctly into the latter category. Don’t think Fringe at all….just think great theatre. These two short plays, linked together by Eurovision song contests of years gone by, are refeshingly original – the writing is crisp and multi-layered and the performances terrific. Do not be misled by the title.  These are not light, camp, undercooked frippery. John Richards is a hugely talented writer with great depth.

Hard Rubbish

Original Concept by Men of Steel. Presented by Malthouse Theatre, Strut & Fret and Men of Steel. Becket Theatre, Malthouse. 12 September – 6 October, 2013.

Wild and woolly holiday entertainment for the whole family – anybody?  Hard Rubbish could just hit the mark. But a small warning - the mark could be you if you are sitting close to the front.  There is crossfire of toilet rolls and other fairly soft objects, as part of the fun raucous fun in the ‘liminal space’ of theatre for kids.