Reviews

Bell, Book and Candle

By John van Druten. Director: Nigel Munro-Wallis. Nash Theatre, Brisbane. 6 – 27 July 2013

What a buzz to remember how enjoyable 1950s ‘well made plays’ were.  Strong characters, no social or political issues, just characters with conflicts and crises we can all identify with.

Director Nigel Munro-Wallis made astute choices of cast and steered the action with assured direction. His actors developed slick, confident dialogue and characters who engaged us, whether we believe in witchcraft or not.

 

The Shifting Heart

By Richard Benyon. Directed by Rachel Vonk. Marloo Theatre, Greenmount, WA. July 5-27, 2013.

Young director Rachel Vonk chose the important Australian play, The Shifting Heart, by Richard Benyon as her first full length production. A significant play, that won numerous awards in 1956 and 1957, it remains relevant to modern audiences and was warmly received in this incarnation by Darlington Theatre Players.

Dangerous Corner

By J. B. Priestly. Genesian Theatre, Sydney. July 6 – Aug 10, 2013.

This is J. B. Priestly’s first play. Written in the early 1930s, Priestly, a socialist, used the popular murder mystery genre to expose the wanton behaviour he believed existed beneath the veneer of respectability of the British bourgeoisie.

The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde. Directed by Brandon Martignago. Burley Theatre. Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre (NSW) July 12 - Aug 3, 2013.

It's more than a bit embarrassing to admit it – having been a regular reviewer for Stage Whispers for several years now – but this is the first time I've seen a professional production of any Oscar Wilde play. I have seen films of his plays and bio-pics of his life and, like most people with a thinking brain, I love everything that Mr Wilde stood for, but the opportunity just never came up.

Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine

By Tim Spencer. La Boite Indie & Tamarama Rock Surfers. Roundhouse Theatre. 10 – 27 July, 2013

This play will haunt you.

Ostensibly this is a series of six interviews with a male sex worker. We aren’t told why or for what medium. (Of course, if we read the programme we would have known this piece played successfully at the Tamarama Rock Surfers Festival and went on to win a major award at the 2012 Melbourne Fringe Festival.)

On entry, each actor identifies himself and his part – first, Nick (Charles Purcell) the male prostitute, then Tim Spencer, as the writer/actor/interviewer.

One Man Lord of the Rings

By Charles Ross. The Playhouse, Canberra, 12 July 2013

To conceive of playing before a live audience multiple characters who must converse and journey together, rescue one another from danger, and engage in mortal physical and magical combat takes a special kind of imagination.  And it takes a special kind of actor to succeed in maintaining such mayhem for the length and breadth of the Lord of the Rings epic.  Fortunately for us, Charles Ross is one such.  Fortunately too, Ross managed to compress the epic tale's years into a single hour or so

The Bugalugs Bum Thief

Director: Noriko Nishimoto. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle WA. July 6-20, 2013.

 

"If you don't have a bum you can't sit down! "If you don't have a bum your pants will fall down! "How can you save a bumless town?"

 

 

 

The Bugalugs Bum Thief is a Spare Parts favourite that has returned to bring joy to old and new audiences.

Top Girls

By Caryl Churchill. New Theatre, Newtown (NSW). July 9 – August 3, 2013.

And they are! Alice Livingstone has assembled a ‘top’ cast of feisty females to take a New look at this once controversial – and, unfortunately, still very relevant – play by British playwright Caryl Churchill.

Oleanna

By David Mamet. Directed by Ange Arabatzis. Presented by Art of the State (Vic). Revolt Melbourne Artspace, Kensington. Until July 14, 2013.

Whichever way you look at it, Mr Mamet’s knee-jerk reaction (which premiered in 1992) to a famous 1991 sexual harassment case in the USA is a peculiar choice for an airing today. It’s dated, ideologically suspect, inflammatory schtick that, infuriatingly, has a bet each way on whose side you’ll take as the events unfold.

War Horse

Adapted by Nick Stafford from the novel by Michael Morpurgo. Direction: Drew Barr. National Theatre of Great Britain & Global Features Production. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. From 11 July 2013.

Magnificent theatre is the only way to describe the National Theatre of Great Britain’s production of War Horse. The story of illiterate farm-boy Albert and his horse Joey, who is sent off to the First World War as a cavalry horse, and Albert’s subsequent enlistment to find him, is powerfully evoked by a large ensemble cast and some brilliant life-size horse puppets created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company. Within minutes of the play beginning you believe the puppets are real and forget they’re being manipulated by three people per horse.