Reviews

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.

The Pirates of Penzance (New Version)

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Chatswood Musical Society. Director: Anne Veitch. Musical Director: Gerard Plummer. Choreographer: Stephanie Edmonds. Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. May 2 – 10, 2014.

Since Joe Papp’s swashbuckling 1980s revitalization of the G & S favourite on Broadway I’ve seen so many new versions of The Pirates of Penzance that it’s hard to disentangle the ‘new’ from the ‘old is new again’ in Chatswood’s energetic production.

Since this ‘new Broadway’ incarnation first came along there’s been a second Simon Gallaher / John English version, Opera Australia’s staging with Anthony Warlow’s Pirates of Carribean spin and even a British all-male version.

Eight Gigagytes of Hardcore Pornography

By Declan Greene. Griffin Theatre Company and Perth Theatre Company. Director: Lee Lewis. SBW Stables Theatre, Sydney, 7 May – 14 June, 2014; The Street Theatre, Canberra, 17 – 21 June & Studio Underground - State Theatre Centre of WA, 1 – 12 July.

Don’t come to this saucily titled play if you’re looking for even a single binary digit’s worth of porn. There are many establishments just along the main Kings Cross drag where plenty of uplifting hardcore awaits you. Declan Greene’s new play, on the other hand, is likely to bring you down. Way down.

Neighbourhood Watch

By Lally Katz. State Theatre Company SA. The Dunstan Playhouse, Festival Centre. May 2-24, 2014

Miriam Margolyes steps on stage in Lally Katz’s Neighbourhood Watch and at once we feel she isn’t just playing elderly former refugee, Ana, but in fact is this funny, endearing, manipulative and emotionally damaged woman. The audience becomes immersed in the State Theatre Company’s production of Katz’s whimsical, moving play and it delivers in spades.

Annie

Directed by Katherine Friend, Music Direction by Justin Friend. Koorliny Arts Centre, Kwinana, WA. 2-17 May, 2014

Koorliny Arts Centre's Annie is a production with a lovely heart and a positive vibe.

Charming Christie McGarrity looks perfect in the title role and brings a beautiful voice and genuine smile. She walks well with four-legged co-star Dijaan Rhodes (Sandy) and is a treat to watch.

Chris Gerrish is a strong but warm Daddy Warbucks, with a voice to match and partners well with Kimberley Harris who is perhaps the perfect Grace, efficient and precise in an excellent performance.

His Mother’s Voice

By Justin Fleming. Bakehouse Theatre Company. atyp Studio 1, Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay. April 30 – May 17, 2014

As well as being a heart-warming love story, this is a play about courage in the face of brutality and the terrible risk of clinging on to something you hold dearer than the might and power of the state.

Belleville

By Amy Herzog. Red Stitch Actors Theatre (Vic). Directed by Denny Lawrence May 2 – 31, 2014.

Deception and dependency so often feed off each other, fed by need rather than love, and ultimately undone by the breaking of trust. These are the emotions Amy Herzog explores with great style and empathy in her harrowing new play, which is, itself, deceptive in its unfolding. Small wonder that she is taking the world by storm, and even less surprising that Red Stitch have chosen to present the Australian Premiere.