Reviews

Cosi

By Louis Nowra. Directed by Jayde Clark. Phoenix Theatre, Memorial Hall, Hamilton Hill, WA. May 8-17, 2014.

Phoenix Theatre delivered an energetic interpretation of Louis Nowra's popular Australian play, Cosi.

Set on a nicely rendered burnt-out backdrop by Wayne Gale and Kerron Muller, the show was well cast and moved at a good pace.

Cody Fullbrook was a convincing Lewis and his journey from nervous newcomer through to the culmination of Lewis' direction of Cosi Fan Tutte was believable.  Cody's program notes hint that he may be a newcomer to community theatre, and if so, he his a welcome addition.

Don Quixote

Composed by Ludwig Minkus. The Imperial Russian Ballet. Choreographed by Marius Petipa / Gediminas Taranda. Canberra Theatre, 5–6 May 2014 and touring nationally through May

Playing to a nearly full house, this production of Don Quixote is based on choreography (Marius Petipa’s, as modified by Gediminas Taranda) that is a little more abstruse than some.  Even knowing the story of a dreamer aspiring to the chivalry of the knights of old and—mistaking a play for actuality—battling a windmill and attempting to rescue his dream girl, you’d be hard-pressed to identify that story in the sequence of performances in the production.

WICKED

Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Winnie Holzman. Directed by Lisa Leguillo. Regent Theatre, Melbourne. May 10, 2014.

If we gave star ratings in reviews I would simply fill all of cyberspace with stars and nothing else; that’s how good the opening night of this season of Wicked is. Instead, I have to find words to describe what was a glorious night of theatre for everyone.

Opera on the Beach: The Magic Flute

By Mozart. Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast. Opera Australia. Director Michael Gow May 9 – 11, 2014.

Under cloudy skies, the magnificent set of the OA’s Magic Flute seemed at home with the surrounding high rise apartments. As if on cue, the clouds started to part as the Overture commenced and thus began a fabulous event!

Billed as a world first, Opera On The Beach was an experience not to be missed and the capacity crowd of over 3,500 in beach chairs, banana lounges and sleeping bags enjoyed every minute. Sung in English, the story was easily to understand.

A Tribute of Sorts

By Ben Shostakowski. A Monsters Appear production presented by Queensland Theatre Company and Metro Arts. Bille Brown Studio, QTC. 7 -17 May, 2014.

There was magic in the 2012 La Boite Indie production of this theatrical gem. Young Shostakowski rose rapidly through the theatrical ranks and Tribute developed its own keen fan base – cult theatre, if you like.

I looked forward to this revival of the play. I was disappointed. I hasten to add the opening night audience of fans, supporters and subscribers around me sounded enthusiastic. I might have been the odd one out.  

Young Frankenstein

Music and Lyrics Mel Brooks, Book Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Director: Tony Alcock. May 9 – 31, 2014

Mel Brooks converted his hysterical movie into a Broadway Musical and expectations were high: however this production just missed the mark.

The large cast consisted of experienced performers and those who were starting out and the gap between the standards was obvious and this performance wasn’t helped by slow scene changes (with plenty of torch light and hands etc. visible from the audience).

Pre-drinks

By Lewis Treston. Artslink Queensland. Teneriffe, Brisbane. Director: Danielle Carney. 8 – 17 May, 2014.

Experimental Theatre is alive and well in Brisbane. Pre-drinks is the third such play I have seen this year; the second by this playwright, and director Danielle Carney did justice to the piece. Pre-drinks was workshopped on the Gold Coast in March.

Parramatta Girls

By Alana Valentine. Riverside Productions. Riverside Theatre, Paramatta. May 1 – 17, 2014

Tanya Goldberg has assembled a formidable cast for this production of Alana Valentine’s poignant re-telling of the traumatic stories of past inmates of The Girls Training School at Parramatta.

First staged in 2007, the play has received wide acclaim as a piece of verbatim theatre that successfully inter-weaves the heart-breaking stories of the horrors the girls suffered at the hands of corrective and medical staff, into a piece of theatre that exposes the dark and hidden horrors yet is interspersed with humour and hope.

The Producers

By Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Hornsby Musical Society. Hornsby RSL. May 2 – 10, 2014.

Mel Brooks’ 1968 film comedy where unscrupulous producers come to grief attempting to stage the worst-ever musical translates joyously to the musical comedy stage, as its record 12 Tony Awards attest, and Courtney Cassar’s production for Hornsby Musical Society does great justice in adapting the Broadway hit to Hornsby RSL’s challenging stage. His fluid production, combining minimalist sets, a strategically placed LED banner, and effective maneuvering of his cast, meets the challenges thrown up by the venue.

The Safe House

Written by Tim Wotherspoon. Realized by Kirsten Von Bibra. 3rd Room Theatrical. The Owl and The Pussycat (Vic). May 7 - 17, 2014

It’s always an amazing thing for a theatre lover to find an exceptional new (to me) talent. I encountered Tim Wotherspoon during the 5 pound repertory season last year so needed no persuasion to see him play the lead in his own play. Wotherspoon is one of those actors who exudes theatre through every pore. Not conventionally a leading man, he brings an almost menacing intensity coupled with a subtextual fragility to everything he does…and his comic timing is second to none.