Reviews

The 39 Steps

By Patrick Barlow based on the film by Alfred Hitchcock. Hobart Repertory Theatre Company. Lucy Tomlinson-Smith and Ben Armitage (Directors). Max Watson (Lighting Design). Jack Lark and Finn Carter (Sound Design). Karen Fahey (Costume Coordinator). Helen Cronin (Props). The Playhouse Hobart. 12-27 August 2022

Those of a certain age might remember the classic Hitchcock film of the same name which consolidated the spy genre of the innocent man on the run. This stage version of The 39 Steps uses most of the original dialogue, delivered by only four actors, to create a rollicking parody.

Jarod Goldsmith (6’ 1” with a stylish pencil thin moustache) immediately establishes the tone of the work with one expertly raised eyebrow. Goldsmith, as John Hannay, is the only actor not undertaking another role. His is a pivotal and assured presence.

Improv Comedy Cagefight

Director David Crisante. Downstairs Chippendale Hotel. Monday nights until 28 August, 2022

Downstairs at The Chippo it’s a bit dark, but there’s a great vibe! And there are lots of people … mainly young  … except for one. That’s me! Why is this aged reviewer sitting among a crowd of energetic young actors on a cold winter night?  Because she loves improvisation!  Because she’s thrilled to learn about another impro venue in Sydney! Because she’s keen to see just what these young actors can do! And she isn’t disappointed.

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

By Robert Louis Stevenson, adapted and directed by Kip Williams. Sydney Theatre Company. Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay, Sydney. August 8 – September 3, 2022

Thousands have applauded Kip Williams’ cine-theatre version of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the STC show is now en route to Broadway and the West End.

With the same creative team, Williams has now adapted and directed this hypnotic film noir telling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s horror story. Again the setting is London in the late 1800’s, a time when new sciences and a fevered Romanticism curdled into these troubled tales of good and evil.

The Ajoona Guest House

By Stephen House. La Mama Theatre, Carlton, Victoria. Director: Rosalba Clemente. 9th- 21st August 2022

When you combine an accomplished wordsmith with an excellent actor and tell a story of the edges of life, and the brutality of both yes and no answers to the big questions about who a person can be, you get a moving and challenging play.

Chalkface

By Angela Betzien. State Theatre Company South Australia and Sydney Theatre Company. Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide. August 5th-20th, 2022, Full tour details at end of review.

When the roll is taken for Angela Betzien’s Chalkface, it is unsurprising that the author, Director Jess Arthur and most of the cast have one or two teachers in the family.

The Carpenters from Kempsey

Written by Darren Mapes and Linda Nagle. Paddington RSL. July 29, 2022

Singer Karen Carpenter died in her prime almost 40 years ago, but entertainers Darren Mapes and Debora Krizak are keeping the flame going with their hilarious tuneful schtick. 

According to the opening song the Carpenters from Kempsey were holed up in their home during the great flood of 1994 when they chanced upon a record of the American country singers. 

The catchy music cast a magic spell over them, and sharing the same name and looks the duo created their own quirky spin off show.

Medea Out of the Mouths of Babes

Written by Chris Beckey, Steven Mitchell Wright & Ian Johnson with Belle Hansen, Enya Daly & ensemble. Directed by Steven Mitchell Wright. Theatre Works, St Kilda. 2 – 20 August 2022

Here is a gripping and profound reworking of Euripides’ ancient Greek tragedy.  First performed in 431 BCE, the essence of its plot in this production is untouched: ‘a mother kills her children.’  Why?  That is the question posed at the start and by the end of this skilfully stylised melodrama that question is unmistakeably answered.  

Jagad

Co-created by Monica Lim, Rianto and Melanie Lane. World Premiere presented by Arts House and Monica Lim. August 3 – 7, 2022

Jagad is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional concept of the inner and outer universe from Javanese culture in Indonesia. This multi-layered piece incorporates music by Malaysian-Australian composer Monica Lim with choreography by Javanese-Australian dance maker Melanie Lane and Javanese dancer Rianto.

Theft

By Eric Chappell. Serial Productions. Directed by Rob Warner. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth, WA. Aug 5-20, 2022

Serial Productions’ Theft is a clever, rather black little comedy thriller, which has one of the brightest, most eye-catching posters of 2022. Performing at Old Mill Theatre, I had the pleasure of attending the fundraising performance for the Western Australia Heart and Lung Transplant Foundation. Great to see a theatre company supporting such a great cause.

The Marvellous Life of Carlo Gatti

By Cassandra-Elli Yiannocou. Theatre Works. Director: Chris Hocking. 3rd -13th August 2022

This play is an exploration of fate, the impact of using others for self-centred ends and the ultimate questions about finding meaning in life. Two lonely and unhappy people (Shamita Siva, Psychologist and El Kliley, Physicist) are searching for a safe and nurturing place in life and find themselves connected across time. Their relationship grows under the influence of the Pianist (Connor Dariol) who is looking for his own connection to life and uses their pain to meet his needs.