Reviews

Sex With Strangers

By Laura Eason. Wharf 1 Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company. Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse. 24 September – 24 November, 2012.

Generation gaps are getting narrower. This engrossing two-actor drama from Chicago playwright Laura Eason convincingly demonstrates there’s now but a 10-year gap between us and the pre-digital, pre-smart-phones, pre-e-books folk of yesteryear. In a highly realistic production from movie director/producer Jocelyn Moorhouse — her first work for the stage — the highs and lows, pros and cons of this particular moment of the digital age are absorbingly demonstrated and discussed.

Lucia di Lammermoor

Music by Gaetano Donizetti. Libretto by Salvatore Cammarano. Director: John Doyle. Opera Australia Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. September 28 - November 2, 2012.

The overture seemed to be running out of petrol when the audience began to realise something had broken down on stage. The front flat had failed to rise, bringing the opening to a halt. It took a few minutes to rectify.

It seemed extraordinary that a set which comprised next to nothing could still have something go amiss and continue to appear fragile as the night progressed.

The production was put together by three companies, Opera Australia, Houston Grand Opera and Teatro La Fenice. The scenic fruits of their co-production were flats painted with clouds.

Fat Swan

Written by Phil Scott and Trevor Ashley. Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne(Vic). Sept 26th to Oct 6th, 2012.

Despite winning Natalie Portman an Oscar last year, “Black Swan” was such a ghastly melodrama of a film that it thoroughly deserves the urine extraction treatment given to it by the fabulous Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott in their shockingly “naughty” adult panto. Both are clearly Ornithologists.

Barassi

Written by Tee O’Neill. Alan Jager in association with Hit Productions (VIC). The Athenaeum Theatre. Director: Terence O’Connell. 20 Sep – 14 October, 2012.

Aussie Rules football – ‘GUTS, DETERMINATION, FEAR’ – offer your coach Ron Barassi anything less and you’d better be man enough to cop a spray at half-time – a monstrous vocabulary served in your face with the kind of ferocity that just might send today’s sportspeople off for some therapy.

Private Lives

By Noël Coward. Belvoir Theatre, Sydney. Director: Ralph Myers. 22 September – 11 November, 2012 (Wollongong 14-17 Nov; Canberra 21-24 Nov).

Excellently acted by a top-flight cast and happily received by a packed house, this modern-dress version of Noël Coward’s 1930 masterpiece is alive with contradictions. All of Coward’s brittle dialogue has been retained, but here delivered by 2012 characters. ‘What a cad!’ says Victor of his rival. ‘What utter, utter fools!’ says Elyot, ruefully describing himself and his on/off true-love Amanda. And there is talk of glamorous holidays in St Moritz, Cannes and Tunis, of watching the Tiller Girls, of sending urgent messages by telegraph.

Kodo & Taikoz

In Concert. Featuring Riley Lee (shakuhachi). National Tour. Melbourne, Presented by Taikoz and Arts Centre Melbourne. Hamer Hall – 24 September, 2012. Sydney – City Recital Hall Angel Place – 27 and 28 September.

Kodo & Taikoz In Concert is a generous rousing and very powerful experience.  Vigorous and energetic drummers engage fully with the Taiko (drums) and joyfully with each other to wholesomely entertain.  There is not one beat out of place.

Very enthusiastically received by the audience, this amazing concert is the amalgam of many years of cultural exchange and development between the Japanese Taiko playing ensemble Kodo and Australian ensemble Taikoz.  Surprisingly approximately a third of each of these cohorts of musicians is female.

May & Alia do Pirates!

Creator/Performer/Producer: Alia Vryens. Creator/Performer: May Jasper. Venue: Revolt Artspace. September 26 – 30, 2012

May & Alia do Pirates!, and part of the Fringe Festival. It was unlikely to be long or boring, so I trotted along and found it most entertaining. May and Alia burst onto stage and held their pirates pose while they ascertained that they were alone. They’d forgotten to text the rest of the cast of Pirates to remind them they had a show.

So they decided to continue without them. I remember a similar concept being used in the show Hats some decades ago.

The Tuxedo and The Little Black Dress.

By Louis Nowra and Stewart D’Arietta. Director: Christopher Parker Chapel off Chapel 27 Sept – 14 Oct, 2012 (preview 26th). World Premiere.

Louis Nowra is justifiably one of our most esteemed playwrights. Stewart D’Arietta is a renowned musician noted for his work on Through a Glass Onion and his “Tom Waits” show in various incarnations. I am an unabashed fan of their work. I’ve been looking forward to this production for some months and even took a bunch of friends with me. It’s therefore disappointing and bewildering to have to ponder why their new show doesn’t work the way it should.

Tender Napalm

By Philip Ridley. Presented by La Boite & Brisbane Festival. Roundhouse Theatre, 21 Sep–13 Oct 2012

After the extensive promotional build-up to this play, I suspect I went along with false expectations. I am blessed with detailed long-term memory and I recall those euphoric highs and bitter lows of burgeoning new love, but mostly I recall the joyous physicality of affairs.

The talented pair in this play, played by Ellen Bailey and Kurt Phelan, didn’t achieve any form of intimacy, not even holding hands, until the final moments. It was just words, words, words ─ sometimes lyrically poetical, other times violent and ugly.

Daibolica Jones

Written by Anna Held. Drop Bear Theatre. The cast: Diabolica Jones, Pier Carthew; Sharon, Sarah Lockwood and Carol, Carolyn Ramsey. Kingston Arts Centre – Moorabbin. 24 – 26 September, 2012 at 11am and 1.30pm

I was lucky enough to, almost accidentally, catch a preview of this charming show for young people. 

Diabolica Jones, the play, is a spirited and intriguing work, full of imaginative connections and flights of fancy, presented with sparkling fresh energy.