Reviews

Oliver!

By Lionel Bart. St George Theatre Company / Rockdale Musical Society. Hurstville Entertainment Centre. March 1 – 10, 2013.

Dickens’ story of an orphan who finds a loving home, after a detour via London’s 19th century Underbelly, and the songs from Lionel Bart’s musical version, need little introduction.

Darkened in mood for the 1990s Sam Mendes / Cameron Mackintosh production, with atmospheric orchestrations and pruning of its musical comedy elements, it’s now probably closer to a contemporary music theatre piece than the effervescent 1960 original.

Thursday

By Bryony Lavery. World Premiere – co-production by Brink Productions and English Touring Company. Director: Chris Drummond. Norwood Concert Hall – Feb. 25th until March 16th, 2013.

Ultimately a meditation on the fragility of life, Thursday is a riveting piece of theatre, ingeniously designed by Dan Potra and intricately lit by Colin Grenfell. It is inspired by the story of Adelaide woman, Gill Hicks, who lost her legs in the London bombings of 7th July 2005.

The play’s opening sequence offers audiences a simultaneous fly on the wall view of the beginning of the day of each of the characters – three couples and three singles.

BLUE/ORANGE

Written by Joe Penhall. Mockingbird Theatre. Director: Chris Baldock. Broken Mirror Studios, 2C Staley Street, Brunswick. Februuary 28 - March 9, 2013.

When Mockingbird Theatre burst onto the scene last year with The Laramie Project  at Chapel off Chapel, there were some who remained sceptical. After all, Chris Baldock was recreating his award winning production with a new company.

With Blue/Orange, Joe Penhall’s 2000 award winning play, Mockingbird Theatre clearly emphasises its commitment to excellence and lays down the gauntlet to other small theatre companies. What’s more, Chris Baldock cements his position as an exciting director poised to take on all comers.

One Man, Two Guvnors

By Richard Bean. National Theatre Of Great Britain. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, February 28 - March 9, 2013; Auckland March 14-23; Sydney 30 March – 11 May & Melbourne 17 May – 29 June.

National Theatre Of Great Britain’s One Man, Two Guvnors is now touring Australia following its ongoing success in London’s West End, a UK tour and an award-winning Broadway run.

Its first stop was for Adelaide Festival and while the immitigable English farce seems at odds with much of the other fare that artistic director David Sefton has programmed for 2013, it must be said that One Man, Two Guvnors is very, very funny.

Orpheus in the Underworld

By Jacques Offenbach. Updated by Jonathan Biggins and Phil Scott. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. February 28 – March 27, 2013.

“Life’s a bore without amour” agreed – and in the present political climate, a bit depressing too. Thanks be, therefore, that Opera Australia brought Jonathan Biggins and Phil Scott in to rework their 2003 adaptation of Orpheus. It’s bright, fast, funny, colourful and very topical.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Carol Burns’s stage interpretation of Joan Lindsay’s novel. Brisbane Arts Theatre. Feb 22 – Mar 16. 2012.

More than a premiere, this is a once-in-a-lifetime theatrical event!

The story obviously burned in Carol Burns’s mind for a long time until she created her own true-to-the book interpretation of the Lindsay novel. Shane Rodwell’s brooding set exudes either mystery or reality according to Alan Lawrence’s ingenious soundscape and Geoff Squire’s illuminations.

Angela Tonuri’s costumes establish the early 1900s and the actors convince us how cumbersome they were, even for girls in a relaxed picnic situation.

The Farndale Ave Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery

By David McGillvray and Walter Zerlin Jnr. Directed by Tanya Ryder-Barnes.. 1812 Theatre – Ferntree Gully (Vic). 28th Feb – 23rd March, 2013.

With an impressive cast, excellent direction and a wildly funny play, 1812 has started its new season with a fabulous production that even outdoes its last offering of 2012 – The 39 Steps.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

By Tennessee Williams. Belvoir. Director: Simon Stone. February 16 – April 21, 2013.

Simon Stone’s decision (explained at great length in the program) to use a contemporary setting and local accents for this very American play seems to work for the first half hour or so. As Maggie “the Cat” (Jacqueline McKenzie) hits the revolving stage through a cascading curtain of crepe paper streamers, complaining about her brother-in-law’s children to her off stage husband Brick (Ewen Leslie), while she tries on and discards a wardrobe of dresses, a local setting is believable.

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown

Book, Music, Lyrics Clark Gesner. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Director: Darryl Vine. February 22nd – March 16th, 2013.

This is the second production of Charlie Brown I have seen this year and both have been enjoyable.

I was surprised to find that this was the first show in the creative capacity for each of the production team: Director Darryl Vine, Musical Director Liam Cruz and Choreographer Brad Wilmhurst and the end result was full of humour and pace.

Under Liam’s baton, the orchestra was one of the finest I’ve heard for a long time and didn’t overpower the performers. Brad’s routines brought the best out in the young cast.

An Aussie Affair

El Rocco, Kings Cross. Performer: Florian Korty. Director: Naomi Livingstone Musical Director: Clare Heuston. Choreographer: Clancy McWaters. 14 Feb – 1 March, 2013.

Kraftywork.

Florian Korty has devised a fast paced, funny and poignant cabaret show based upon his own story of a young gay man travelling from his small home town in Germany to Sydney – the glittering LGBTQ capital of the southern hemisphere. Upon arrival he’s somewhat surprised, but very pleased, that there’s not a kangaroo to be seen in Oxford Street or Newtown.