Reviews

How to Survive an Earthquake.

Written by Christine Croyden. Directed by Glenda Linscott. Presented by Melbourne Writers’ Theatre. La Mama Courthouse (Vic). Until September 1, 2013.

On the surface, Ms Croyden’s reunion drama about two sisters Stephanie (Jessica Gerger) and Jane (Sarah Plummer) reuniting on the eve of their mother’s funeral wears its dark and damaged heart immovably on its sleeve. There is the typical point-scoring banter about who did what to whom and how much more difficult life has been for one more so than the other.

Seminar

By Theresa Rebeck. Ensemble Theatre, Sydney. Director: Anna Crawford. 21 August – 14 September, 2013

Here’s a fine, sparky 2011 Broadway play that has slipped through the STC/MTC net and been snaffled by an alert Ensemble programming team. Theresa Rebeck’s fizzing dialogue keeps the audience alert throughout a 100-minute discussion on writers and the modern novel.

Set and direction are first rate, and the excellent 5-actor ensemble shows the Ensemble at its best. Up very close and personal, these actors give tense, truthful, often very funny performances, revelling in the crisp New York exchanges, plot twists and character surprises.

 

Stomp 13

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions (UK). Melbourne August 20 – 25, 2013; Adelaide from Aug 27 to Sept 1; Canberra from Sept 3 – 8; Sydney from Sept 10.

Stomp ’13, a sublime blend of dance, comedy, percussion, juggling, and martial arts, challenges easy categorisation.

 

Storm Boy

By Colin Thiele, adapted for the stage by Tom Holloway. Sydney Theatre Company and Barking Gecko Theatre. Director: John Sheedy. Wharf 1 Theatre, Sydney. Aug 8 - Sept 11, 2013. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA. September 21 - October 5, 2013 5.

From the moment this play opens - fittingly with a storm, this is a captivating, beautifully realised production lovingly retells Colin Thiele's children's novel, for audiences of any age.

This first collaboration between Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company is a worthy one - with Barking Gecko's artistic director at the directive helm of this stunning play.

The set - evocative of a whale skeleton, cliff top, sand dune and wave is a beautiful canvas for this production, an earthy organic design by Michael Scott-Mitchell.

Outside The Box

A Candlelight Production in conjunction with Servants Community Housing. Chapel off Chapel. Director Mardee Kaylock. 16th-31st August, 2013.

Fringe theatre in Melbourne tends to fall largely (though not always) into two categories:- the self indulgent, undercooked, and amateurish; and the pretentious, obscure, and alienating. Outside The Box is different, and truly lives up to its title. For one thing Candlelight Productions is a non-profit arts organisation that is truly trying to change community perceptions. Servants is a group which provides community housing to those isolated, alienated, marginalised…mostly by mental illness.

night maybe

By Kit Brookman. Stuck Pigs Squealing. TheatreWorks (Vic). 15 August – 1 September, 2013

Sasha is left in the dark when her brother walks off. As she hunts him down she meets several characters – are they manifestations of the brother, or herself? Is this reality or subconscious?

This production is visually outstanding. The first eerie lighting change from house lights draws us onstage through the drifting haze to reveal a park at night with real trees and grass. The actors are side lit throughout most of the performance and this works beautifully, with the actors never missing their marks. 

The Little Black Dress Suite

Choreographer: Martin del Amo. Form Dance Projects and Riverside. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. Aug 15 – 17, 2013.

In this suite of solo performances, Martin del Amo’s contribution to Dance Bites 2013 brings together four pieces for which, over the past two years, the Little Black Dress was the recurring costume.

In each piece, the iconic costume is taken out of its usual glamorous context into choreography that is ultra contemporary, highly interpretative and tightly controlled.

The Phantom of the Opera

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics: Charles Hart; additional lyrics: Richard Stilgoe; book: Richard Stilgoe, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Presented by Craig Wellington Productions and The Tasmanian Theatre Unit Trust In Association with The Old Nick Company Inc. Director: Ingrid Ganley. Musical Director: Aaron Powell. Theatre Royal, Hobart. 9 -24 August 2013 (with season extended by one week to August 31).

With theatre rights for The Phantom of the Opera recently being made available for performance by amateur/community theatre production in Australia, Craig Wellington Productions was quick to secure the rights for performance in Hobart. The Craig Wellington production is pro-am, or “an amateur company production, although the majority of the principals are professionals, giving their services for free”. 

The Cherry Orchard

By Simon Stone, after Anton Chekhov. Melbourne Theatre Company. Directed by Simon Stone. Set and Costume Designer – Alice Babidge. Lighting Designer Niklas Pajati. Composer/Sound Designer – Stefan Gregory. Southbank Theatre, The Sumner. August 10 – September 25, 2013.

Simon Stone’s contemporized production of The Cherry Orchard is bright, lively and delightfully accessible.  For those who have studied it, and seen it a number of times, or for those who have no idea what it is about, this is the production to catch.  It is funny and rewarding, and may even win over the purists, in its capacity to elucidate the complex emotional quandaries it explores and character flaws it reveals.

Hedda

Directed by Renato Fabretti. Blue Room Theatre, Northbridge, WA. Aug 13-31, 2013.

Hedda is a reconstruction of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler by Norwegian actress-producer Marthe Snoresdotter Rovik. Her aim was to "expose Australian audiences to Hedda, the way Ibsen intended."