Reviews

Iphigénie en Tauride

By Gluck. Lyric Opera of Melbourne. Chapel off Chapel. Director: Nathan Gilkes. Conductor: Pat Miller. September 2 – 7, 2013.

Lyric Opera of Melbourne continues to lead the way with innovative productions of forgotten operas. I had never encountered this Gluck masterpiece, but was blown away by the drama and the beauty and strength of the music.           

However, it was the exciting production which I will remember.

Salome

By Oscar Wilde. Presented by Little Ones Theatre and Malthouse Theatre. Directed by Stephen Nicolazzo. Dramaturgy - Natalia Savvides. Set and Costume – Eugyeene The. Tower Theatre. August 30 – September 14, 2013.

Little Ones Theatre’s slick and flippant production of Oscar Wilde’s Salome is lively, loud, lighthearted and wickedly profane.  It’s an ‘in-your-face’ cabaret performance with loads of well-dressed and undressed ‘eye-candy’ and more than just a hint of Jean Genet.

Little Ones Theatre has made a fascinatingly provocative reworking of Wilde’s reworking of a Biblical Story.  

Bijou

By Chrissie Shaw. Directed by Susan Pilbeam. The Street Theatre, Canberra. 29 August – 8 September 2013

In a story set in cabaret and punctuated with song and dance, Chrissie Shaw performs as Bijou, after writing the show on the basis of personally researching the background of a photo of Madame Bijou and patching together a story based on the facts she was able to dig up.  The story unfolds from the present backwards, eventually revealing how a fairly hardened performer and brothel madame emerged from an innocent religious girlhood.

Dead Man Brake

By Alana Valentine. Director Anne-Louise Rentell. Merrigong Theatre Co. Gordon Theatre Wollongong. August 28 – September 7, 2013

A real and disastrous train crash on the south coast train line near Waterfall, ten years ago, is the subject of this unique piece of theatre. Some years ago Merrigong Theatre Company stated that they wanted to tell “stories of local relevance but universal resonance”, a fine ambition for a  regional theatrical producer, and this production honours this in many ways.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Book by Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber. Directed by Julie Black. Metropolitan Players. Civic Theatre, Newcastle. August 28 – September 7, 2013.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical about a scarred genius’s love for a young opera singer receives splendid treatment in this production. Indeed, this staging, the first by a non-professional company in NSW, is far superior to the work’s first professional Australian production that I saw in the 1990s.

That did little for me and accentuated the writing weaknesses, but this one kept me engaged – indeed, enchanted – throughout its two acts.

RUPERT

Written by David Williamson. Directed by Lee Lewis. MTC. Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne. World Premiere. 24th August – 28th September, 2013

Halfway through Act One of Rupert, Murdoch says – in defence of one of his tabloids – “It’s entertainment, not in depth analysis.” That might be the only time we hear playwright David Williamson’s “voice” in the entire evening. Williamson is our best known and most prolific playwright. He may have started out as a bolshi liberal at La Mama, but in later years he became the voice of the middle class; smart, literate, witty and able to afford theatre tickets.

The Good Doctor

By Anton Chekhov and Neil Simon. Villanova Players. “The Theatre”, Seven Hills TAFE, Morningside, Q. 30 Aug – 14 Sept 2013

Director, Maria Plumb, chose this play after its success in an earlier production for this theatre.

Whistle Down The Wind

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber Lyrics: Jim Steinman. Director: Andy Fahey. Neptune Productions. Tweed Heads Civic Centre. August 16th to 25th, 2013

Whistle Down The Wind is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lesser know works but, none the less, it abounds with memorable music one expects from this icon of musical theatre.

Based on a book by Mary Hayley Bell and film directed by Richard Attenborough, ALW collaborated with Patricia Knopp and Aussie Director Gale Edwards in adapting the story to the stage, changing the location from the UK to the US state of Louisiana along the way.

Miss Julie

By Simon Stone after August Strindberg. Belvoir Theatre, Sydney. Director: Leticia Cáceres. 29 August – 6 October, 2013.

Simon Stone rewrites theatre classics, freely setting them in modern day Australia. He’s done aWild Duck ‘after Ibsen’, aCherry Orchard ‘after Chekhov’ and now here’s his Miss Julie ‘after Strindberg’. You’ve got to admire his chutzpah and his keen theatrical brain.

Molly Sweeney

By Brian Friel. Directed by Fiona Blair. Lighting Design – Danny Pettingill. Operator – Chris Young. Costume Designer – Fleur Thiermeyer. Presented by Footscray Community Arts Centre. The Old Van. 15 – 25 August, 2013

Brian Friel ‘s wonderfully crafted play Molly Sweeney is certainly done justice in Old Van’s ‘less is more’ production.  Nothing is out of place, extraneous or unnecessary.

Molly Sweeneyis the story of an Irish woman who had sight for the first eleven months of her life then became blind.  Through the love and care of her father she was truly integrated into her close-knit small town community and lived comfortably in her own skin.  That is until she met a man who wooed and married her.