Reviews

The Wizard of Oz

Adelaide Youth Theatre. Royalty Theatre, Angas Street, Adelaide. January 24-26, 2014

Despite a rehearsal period fraught with cast illness Adelaide Youth Theatre has once again demonstrated its depth of talent and professionalism by pulling off a delightful production of The Wizard of Oz.

Written by L. Frank Baum and adapted by Frank Gabrielson, with music and lyrics from the MGM Motion Pictures score, the story needs no description here. The narrative has been well-known since the days when Judy Garland played Dorothy in the movie.

Standing on Ceremony - The Gay Marriage Plays

Written by Mo Gaffney, Jordan Harrison, Wendy MacLeod, Paul Rudnick, Doug Wright, Neil LaBute, Moises Kaufman and Jose Rivera. Directed by Wayne Pearn, Helen Ellis, Russell Fletcher and Justin Stephens. Ellis Productions. Chapel off Chapel. 23rd January – 9th February, 2014.

One of the two most eagerly awaited productions of Midsumma, Standing on Ceremony – The Gay Marriage Plays  just tips the scales for sheer rich entertainment value that also has you leaving the theatre in impassioned discussion. It’s hard to believe that there are still people who balk at the very idea of same sex marriage. They are the ones who should go to Chapel off Chapel and see this production. Unfortunately it’s highly unlikely that they will, and that’s a tragedy.

Don Quixote

By Larry Buttrose based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Directed by Jeremy Johnson. Designed by Jewell Johnson. Stage Manager and Costume Designer: Annette Snars. Lighting Design: Andrew Kinch. Sound Design: Bernard Teuben Pavilion Theatre, Castle Hill. 24 Jan – 15 Feb, 2014

It’s very nice to see Stephen Snars back on stage in a major role. With wispy hair, spikey beard and moustache, heavy armour and compulsory helmet we expect of Don Quixote, he certainly looks the part physically. But it is his soulful, searching blue eyes and wistful expressions that really make him a convincing Knight of the Doleful Countenance.

Impromptunes: The Completely Improvised Musical

Lazy Susan's Comedy Den, The Brisbane Hotel, Highgate WA. Jan 21-23, 2014

The only problem with reviewing a completely improvised musical is that I can pretty much guarantee that the show you see will be nothing like the one I saw opening night…

Impromptunes consists of six young performers who have both an improvisation and music theatre background, who create a brand new musical on the spot, each performance. On opening night, suggestions for a title came from the audience. The first vaguely tasteful suggestion to come from the audience was "My Mother Drink Drives" and this was heartily embraced and performed with aplomb.

Flood

By Chris Isaacs. Directed by Adam Mitchell. Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA. 17 Jan - 2 Feb, 2014.

Flood, by Chris Isaacs, is Black Swan's contribution to the Fringe World Festival, and is the first product of the Black Swan Lab, a new initiative aimed at developing new plays, new collaborations and new artists.

The audience on preview night felt younger than the usual Black Swan audience, whether influenced by the young cast, the Fringe World banner or the subject matter and the show itself had the freshness and excitement of new work.

Six twenty-something friends pile into Mike's parents' Tarago and head North to an isolated camping spot.

Travelling North

By David Williamson. Directed by Andrew Upton. Sydney Theatre Company. Until March 22, 2014.

The Sydney Theatre Company must be hoping that bad luck does not come in threes for its season of Travelling North. First Greta Scacchi withdrew with a back injury in the last week of rehearsals.

Then the first re-scheduled media opening was called off, because a cloud of smoke was reported downstairs in the Sydney Dance Company’s wharf studio.

So we could forgive Brian Brown for appearing like he needed a few more performances under his belt to get fully into the swing of his character of Frank.

The Worst of Scottee

Directed by Chris Goode. Part of Midsumma 2014. Theatre Works, St Kilda, Melbourne. 20 – 25 January, 2014

Despite its opening number histrionics - a performance of ‘Cry Me a River’ accompanied by jets of ink shooting from underneath Scottee's sunnies to run down his face and onto his shirt, giving us a gruesomely goth approximation of tears - The Worst of Scottee is not so much cabaret as it is confessional. The Theatre Works blurb describes it as "wicked and hilarious", and certainly for the first fifteen minutes or so, performer Scottee beguiled many in the audience with lighthearted camp and occasionally bitchy anecdotes.

Black Diggers

By Tom Wright. Queensland Theatre Company & Sydney Festival. Director: Wesley Enoch. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House. 17-26 January, 2014

This is an Australian indigenous variation on Oh, What a Lovely War! — the groundbreaking 1960s theatrical critique of British upper class corruption and incompetence in World War I. Creator Joan Littlewood had plundered a rich back catalogue of bouncy popular songs and famously chose to dress her doomed combatants as end-of-the-pier pierrots.

Hotel Sorrento

By Hannie Rayson. Genesian Theatre (NSW). Director Shane Bates. Assistant Director Sandra Bass. January 18 – February 22, 2014.

In Hotel Sorrento Hannie Rayson reaches into the heart of family relationships to reveal, gradually, the multiplicity of factors that both bring family members together – and drive them apart. She also comments about ‘national’ stereotyping … and misogyny!  So, though some may consider the play to be a little dated, its underlying themes remain tellingly relevant.

The Wau Wau Sisters: Death Threats (and other forms of flattery)

Northcote Town Hall (Vic). January 18 – 22, 2014

This uninhibited and profane show is not for the easily offended. In this latest offering The Wau Wau Sisters have created a burlesque inspired by the real life death threat they received after their “Last Supper” show. Alert, but not alarmed, the Sisters vow to press on even though any show may be their last... 

A near capacity audience on opening night enjoyed ribald song and dance, punk trapeze, audience participation and cross dressing, satire, sex, religion and gymnastics. Puns, double entendre and ad-libs abound.