Reviews

Rent

By Jonathan Larson. Highway Run Productions. Hayes Theatre Co. Oct 8 – Nov 1, 2015.

Even a fire alarm and evacuation on opening night at the Hayes could only briefly pause the energy and enthusiasm. Raw and vibrant, Rent returns joyously to it’s Off-Broadway roots at Sydney’s Hayes Theatre Co.

Rent borrows its plot from La Boheme, transporting the bohemian characters to New York’s East Village in the early 1990s, where the artistic community is being ravaged by HIV/AIDS and threatened by gentrification, re-setting the operatic plot with a rock musical theatre score.

Lord of the Dance - Dangerous Games

QPAC Concert Hall. October 13-17, 2015

Michael Flatley's successful enterprise is on show this week in the Brisbane leg of the Australian tour. The program incorporates a number of sequences designed to tell a good-versus-evil folkloric tale and includes a selection of solo vocal and dance segments scattered amongst the ensemble dance routines which really show-off the technique and bravado for which this Irish style of dance is so famous.

Hamlet

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Directed by Damien Ryan. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre, 15 - 24 October 2015, then Sydney 27 October – 6 December.

Josh McConville unfortunately was too ill to perform his lead as Hamlet on the opening night I attended. Understudy Scott Sheridan put in a magnificent performance in McConville’s place. If you didn’t know Sheridan was the understudy, you’d never guess. His performance is a psychological case study, moving from maddened with the loss of his father through to flagrantly insane, and there are moments when his mood changes instantaneously. He papers over his misery with humour bordering on hysteria—his clowning is darkly funny, but also alarming.

The Aspirations Of Daise Morrow

Adapted from the short story by Patrick White. Brink Productions. Directed by Chris Drummond. Space Theatre, Festival Centre (SA). 10-24 October, 2015

Adapted from the short story, “Down At The Dump” by Australian Nobel Laureate, Patrick White, The Aspirations Of Daise Morrow is an intelligent, sensitive, thought provoking and at times surprisingly funny examination of the ripple effect that a death can have upon the lives of those left behind, especially in a tightly-knit small town environment.

Playhouse Creatures

By April de Angelis. Pymble Players (NSW). October 7 – 31, 2015

April de Angelis’ historical/feminist play is set in the late17th Century when Charles II was restored to the English throne after the rigid ‘rule’ of Oliver Cromwell.

Macbeth

By William Shakespeare. Directed by Andrew Lewis. Roundhouse Theatre, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Mt Lawley WA. October 9- 15, 2015

Macbethis the last chance for the public to see WAAPA's Graduating Acting Class as an ensemble, before they move out into the real world. With the vast majority of this cohort already having secured work post-graduation, it seems that the infamous bad luck of Shakespeare's Scottish play is not going to haunt these young performers.

Benjamin Kindon is outstanding in the central role. Sweet-faced and likeable, his lustful ambition and cruelty seems even more disturbing and his performance is heartfelt and powerful.

Bronx Gothic

Written & performed by Okwui Okpokwasili. Arts House & Melbourne Festival in association with Performance Space 122, as part of PS122 GLOBAL. Arts House, North Melbourne. 8-12 October 2015.

Okwui Okpokwasili is a tall, slim, rangy woman.  Hers is the body of an athlete, perhaps from Somalia or the Sudan.  She stands turned away in the corner of the performance space.  (There is no stage, just a space, surrounded by translucent curtains.)  She is moving, but we can’t see her face.  She shakes, she quivers, she undulates, she trembles, she shivers.  Sometimes her bare feet stomp and her knees almost buckle.  Almost.  Her long beautiful arms reach out, making fleeting gestures that seems for mere moments to suggest so many things: an

The Rabbits

Composer Kate Miller-Heidke, librettist Lally Katz, adaptation (from the book by John Marsden and Shaun Tan) John Sheedy. Opera Australia and Barking Gecko co-production in association with West Australian Opera. Melbourne Festival. Arts Centre Playhouse 9 – 13 October 2015.

The Rabbits is marvellous.  It is a fabulous, imaginative combination of the visual and the aural into a spectacle that is wholly original, entertaining, funny, frightening and moving.  It runs for sixty-five minutes and you can’t take your eyes off the stage.  The brown marsupials inhabit the land.  Then the white rabbits invade – or ‘colonise’ – the land.  The rabbits bring their science and their diseases, their culture and their destructions.  A familiar story - and yet The Rabbits proves that via allegory and

Hairspray The Broadway Musical

Music: Marc Shaiman. Lyrics: Scott Wittman, Marc Shaiman. Book: Mark O’Donnell, Thomas Meehan. Regals Musical Society (NSW). Directed by Julian Batchelor. Musical Direction by Peter Sampson. Choreographer by Tracey Rasmussen. Rockdale Town Hall. October 9 – 17, 2015

If you apply too much Hairspray, your head feels like a rock. Likewise I felt that I might have been applying too many Hairspray the Musical performances to my diary, having already been lucky enough to see it on Broadway, Australia pro, pro-am and the movie. So, imagine my surprise to be thoroughly entertained by the Regals’ zippy production from go to woe … even though it was the fifth time round.

Tosca

By Puccini. Sydney Independent Opera. The Independent Theatre, North Sydney. October 8 – 11, 2015.

Anna-Louise Cole’s beautiful soprano voice brings vibrant anguish to this cunningly staged production of Puccini’s story about love, jealousy, gloating lust and violent retribution. The theatre resonates with the carefully controlled notes that ring of her obvious passion for her art and her wide training and experience. From her very first aria, where jealousy fights against love and devotion, to the desolate grief of the finale, Cole gives a thrilling performance.