Reviews

The Comedy of Errors

By William Shakespeare. Presented by the Melbourne Shakespeare Company. Directed by Ben Adams. Rose Garden, St. Kilda Botanical Gardens. 3 - 19 December 2021.

This is a delightful comedy that is primarily built on mistaken identities and the confusion caused by identical twins separated at birth and the process of their rediscovery. Melbourne Shakespeare Company has taken an extremely jovial and energetic approach to the text and infused it with wry humour, great slapstick comedy and endearing musical interludes. The combination makes the show a powerfully entertaining piece of theatre.

Jack and the Beanstalk

By Ben Crocker. Wanneroo Repertory. Directed by Gwen Browning. Limelight Theatre, Civic Dve, Wanneroo, WA. Nov 25 - Dec 11, 2021

Wanneroo Repertory’s Jack and the Beanstalk is true British pantomime with lots of audience involvement, traditional responses, and great fun.

It's perhaps not surprising that this production understands the genre, with the director, stage manager and at least 7 of the cast hailing the British Isles. Lots of genuine British accents on the stage (and indeed in the audience).

My Brilliant Career

Written & directed by Christine Davey, adapted from the novel by Miles Franklin. Skin of Our Teeth Productions. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton. 3 – 5 December 2021

Playwright Christine Davey takes Miles Franklin’s iconic novel and gives it a broadly comic, lively, near vaudevillian treatment – and adds a perspective and a context.  She puts the author, (Stella) Miles Franklin (Madelaine Swain) on stage as an external narrator, an older woman looking back at her novel and its heroine, Sybylla (Molly England).

The Lyin’ Queen

By Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott. Tim Lawson and TAE. Sydney Opera House, Studio. Nov 30 – Dec 12, 2021

Nothing too demanding here as we peep back into the theatres.

After two years of pandemic, the outrageous Trevor Ashley returns with his own ridiculous show, The Lyin’ Queen, co-written with Phil Scott. It’s a much needed, froth and bubble adults only musical which is ably sung and often very funny.

Ashley is Gaye Wray, a washed-up old soapie star saved from Hollywood oblivion by the eccentric Doctor Rabbitborough (Todd McKenny), keen to use her as the commercial face of his new Jurassic Park- style theme park off the coast of Queensland.

UnSeen

By Kelly Vincent & Alirio Zavarce and the True Ability Ensemble. Space Theatre, Adelaide. December 1-2, 2021

Theatre should always move an audience - to action, to empathy, to joy, to further understanding. UnSeen is no exception.

The Ajoona Guest House

By Stephen House. Bakehouse Studio, Adelaide. 1-11 December 2021

The Ajoona Guest House is the third in a trilogy of monologues, each set in a different city, by award-winning storyteller, Adelaide born Stephen House. The writer, poet, artist and self-described “queer nomad” draws on his lifetime of travels to expose gritty stories of the downtrodden and damaged. House has said himself that he brings attention to the “plight of the underclass”. As writer and solo performer he does so with a skill, both in language and performance, that is emotional, embracing and exquisite.

Nevermore

Book, lyrics and music by Johnathan Christenson. Grey Lantern Productions. Directed by Lorna Mackie. Subiaco Arts Centre, WA. Dec 1-4, 2021

Nevermore, subtitled “The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe”, is a visually stunning, beautifully presented production from Grey Lantern Productions at Subiaco Arts Centre. The story of Poe’s life is told, in poetry highly reminiscent of his own cadence, in an excellent piece of shared storytelling, with events nicely enacted.

Snow White and the Seven Christmas Elves

By Alex Jackson. Directed by Maria Passalacqua. Roxy Lane Theatre, Maylands, WA. Nov 27-Dec 12, 2021

Snow White and the Seven Christmas Elves is traditional British pantomime, with modern sensibilities. Starring a large enthusiastic cast, its run includes plenty of family friendly matinees.

Featuring lots of bright costumes (Celeste Lopez and Christine Ellis), it plays on a colourful multi-locale set (designed by director Maria Passalacqua). At the opening matinee this production felt a little undercooked, with a few dropped lines and scene changes that were on the slow side, but there was plenty to like in this holiday offering.

Hogfather

By Terry Pratchett, adapted by Stephen Briggs. Roleystone Theatre. Directed by Bradley Towton. Roleystone Hall, WA. Nov 16-Dec 4, 2021

In a very seasonal offering, Roleystone Theatre presents Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather at their temporary home, the Roleystone Hall.

Over nineteen scenes, seventeen actors retell the Discworld novel, where to save the earth, Death is forced to take on the role of Hogfather, a Father Christmas-like soul.

Nightingale

By Tony Carey and Bart Donkers. Directed by Tony Carey. Bunbury Musical Comedy Group, WA. Nov 19 - 28, 2021

Bunbury Musical Comedy Group produced the World Premiere of Nightingale, a new musical inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy-tale, with original songs inspired by the sound of ABBA. It’s co-written by a geographically separated writing team - Tony Carey in Bunbury, Western Australia (who also directed) has provided book, music and lyrics, with some songs co-written by Bart Donkers in Breda, the Netherlands.