Reviews

The Lion in Winter

By James Goldman. Villanova Players. Ron Hurley Theatre, Brisbane. 7 to 22 November 2020

Well, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a family argument – or two – would it? And when your family is ruling the United Kingdom and parts of France in 1183, then you might have more to argue about than most. James Goldman’s 1966 play, The Lion in Winter, takes a snapshot of the age-old dilemma of royal succession from the Plantagenet family.

Iphigenia in Splott

By Gary Owen. New Ghosts Theatre Company. Director Lucy Clements. Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville, Nov 12 – 21, 2020 and online Nov 16 - 28.

Meg Clarke doesn’t have to worry about social distancing in this performance. She’s the only one on the stage – for over 80 minutes. It’s a difficult script, word and emotion heavy, in which her character, Effie, talks the audience through a time she wants them to understand - acutely. Skilfully she draws them into her story, making them laugh at times, shocking them at others, seeking their empathy, but never letting them get too close. There’s a reason she’s got them together and she’ll draw them in until she’s ready to tell them why!

Something About Skin: Contemporary dance with a robot vacuum

Created and Performed by Lee Tsung-Hsuan and Chang Chien-Hao. Melbourne Fringe Festival. 12 & 13 November, 2020.

The highly unusual concept of this performance has the choreographers and dancers Tsung-Hsuan and Chien-Hao working with a robotic vacuum. This very unlikely mediator of the show creates a quirky and unexpected perspective as the performance is livestreamed predominantly through the eyes of a moving camera placed on the vacuum. 

Puffs

By Matt Cox. Act, Belong Commit and Art in Motion Theatre Company (AIM). Directed by Lys Tickner. City of Gosnells Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, Thornlie, WA. Nov 12-15, 2020

Puffs, presented by Act, Belong Commit and Art in Motion Theatre Company (AIM) is the story of “Seven increasingly eventful years at a certain school of magic and magic”. An unauthorised satire, tribute and love-letter to the Harry Potter series, it is set in a school house called “Puffs” and the characters all bear names remarkably similar to characters mentioned in obscure parts of the Potter-verse.

The Dixie Swim Club

By Jessie Jones and Jamie Wooten. Tugun Theatre Co. Gold Coast. Director: Chris Hawkins. November 12th – 28th, 2020

The girls of the Dixie Swim Team: Sheree – Pamela Payne, Lexie – Tracy Carrol, Dinah - Judy Newman, Vernadette – Anne Westmorland and Jeri Neal – Gai Byrne, hold a reunion every year in a seaside bungalow at The Outer Banks, North Carolina. 

Since swimming in the team, the girls have all gone their separate ways but the annual reunion is sacred to each of them.

Chris Hawkins’ vision for the production includes an eye for detail and a great cast to carry this, his first production, off.

Homer’s Odyssey

A mini musical From Iliad to Odyssey with songs and spoken word by Loucas Loizou. Melbourne Fringe Festival. 12 - 29 November 2020.

In this unique adaptation Odysseus is an old man living in Ithaca who spends his time singing and telling stories. Among his tales are the Trojan war, the Cyclops, the underworld, Circe, the suitors, and Penelope. The performance treats the audience as people who gather at his house to listen to him reminisce about his adventures. This gives the show a perfect structure and rationale and, combined with a cavernous setting and simple costuming, gives the show a very authentic feel.

The Silver Tunnel

Written and directed by Warwick Moss. Presented by the Rev Bill Crews Foundation. Ashfield Uniting Church - NSW. November 9 – 14, 2020.

The Rev Bill Crews has a reputation for feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, nurturing the vulnerable. He’s also always been an innovator – and COVID-19 has inspired yet another new idea. To accommodate more socially distanced space for services, he’s taken all the pews out of his “grand old church” in Ashfield and put in brand new carpet. But that’s not all. “It is also perfect for bringing the wider community together as an Arts and Performance Space,” he writes. And that’s what he’s done!

Disenchanted: A Cabaret of Twisted Fairy Tales

Written & performed by Eliane Morel. Digital Fringe. Melbourne Fringe Festival Online. 12 – 29 November 2020

Eliane Morel – as ‘Madame d’Aulnoy’ with verray Fronch accent – invites us into her 19th century Parisian salon for a subversive take on some well-known – or well-worn – fairy tales.  This is no Freudian Bruno Bettelheim interpretation of hidden meanings.  Rather, in monologue, song and image, Disenchanted is a retelling of the tales from the point of view of the supporting cast – with a decidedly feminist slant.

The Things I Could Never Tell Steven

Music and Lyrics by Jye Bryant. National Theatre of Parramatta. Riverside Theatres. November 5 – 14, 2020.

This night left me confused. First, where to find parking with Church Street closed for the light rail redevelopment?  Then once inside the Riverside Theatre, why is the first musical Sydney has seen for six months being staged by a theatre company only known for plays?

Dinky-Di Double Bill – The Margarine Conspiracy and Down Came a Jumbuck

Stirling Players. Stirling Community Theatre, Stirling SA. 6-15 November 2020

The fire was roaring in the foyer, the sherry was sipped in our seats, and all appeared back to normal at the Stirling Community Theatre. Returning after a Covid-enforced absence throughout most of the year, the Stirling Players presented a double bill of lesser-known Australian plays to an eager but distanced audience.

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