The School of Arts by Bille Brown

Queensland Theatre Company - 13.7.09-1.8.09 plus tour

It’s hard to nail this show down: farce? murder mystery? rural cultural history? Author and anchor actor Bille Brown chose to set the play in 1967, a year of rich pickings for a playwright. Unfortunately he chose several topics to interweave and audience members need a piece of string, a torch and a compass to find the through line of the plot.

The History Boys by Alan Bennett

Boroondara Theatre Company, Cromwell Street Theatre, South Yarra. Directed by Bryce Ives, with Chris Gaffney, Luigi Lucente, Peter Maver, Elliot Roberts, Stuart Daulman, Beryle Frees, Tristan Lutze, James Cook, Gerard Lane, Riki Lindsey, Fabio Motta and Kevin David Newman. Set design by Jeremy Bailey-Smith. Lighting design by Karla Engdahl.

Alan Bennett's The History Boys is a near perfect example of what we have come to know (and either love or hate) as the well-made play: grand themes, considered structure and form, and characters meeting, often quite circumstantially, in a unique time and place on their journeys through life.

Crazy for You

The Production Company. State Theatre, The Arts Centre, Melbourne.

The Production Company specializes in concert performances of lesser know music theatre with professionals and a short sharp rehearsal period. Crazy for You fitted the bill nicely being a rehash of Gershwin’s 1930 musical Girl Crazy. I was surprised there were so many familiar songs, until I learnt that of the twenty songs included, only four were from Girl Crazy. Of course three of these were “Embraceable You”, “I Got Rhythm” and “But Not For Me”.

Breast Wishes.

Music & Lyrics: Bruce Brown. Script: Merridy Eastman, Jonathan Gavin, Richard Glover, Wendy Harmer, Sheridan Jobbins, James Millar, Debra Oswald. Opened: Twelfth Night Theatre, Brisbane, 8 July, 2009

Breast Wishes, which is sub-titled “An Uplifting Musical,” is just that – Uplifting, and joyous, and funny, and ultimately moving. Based on an idea by Actress Anna Looby, this celebration of mammary glands and all that happens to them during a woman’s life, hits its target audience with a whopping great big bang. The ensemble cast couldn’t be better.

Hay Fever by Noel Coward

Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent Street, Sydney until August 8, 2009

The Genesian Theatre Company's revival of Noel Coward's classic 1925 comedy, Hay Fever, takes us into the madcap world of the eccentric Bliss family, in a production directed by Genesian stalwart Nanette Frew.


Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, as part of the “In Stiches” Comedy Festival

It’s almost two years since The Kransky Sisters played Brisbane, and judging by their first night reception they’ve been greatly missed. Working basically the same material they introduced on their last visit, the three dour “sisters” get plenty of laugh mileage out of small-town Australian foibles and characters. The humor is clever, sometimes black, but mostly just plain funny.

OODGEROO - Bloodline to Country by Sam Watson

La Boîte Theatre at the Roundhouse

This engaging theatre piece is perhaps the best I have seen at La Boîte recently: well-developed script; evocative set; unconventional dramatic structure; and tightly directed. The initial image is captivating: Stradbroke Island created in sand (Minjerribah – Oodgeroo’s homeland) surrounded by Moreton Bay, with the island reflected up the fourth wall. The story unfolds in a series of pleated episodes of significant events:

Jersey Boys

By Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice, Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe. Theatre Royal, Sydney.

Jersey Boys has now settled into Sydney's Theatre Royal, after its smash hit 453 performance run in Melbourne.

Re-reading Bryce Ives' review of the Melbourne opening, which follows mine, frankly I realised he had already covered much of what I wanted to say, so I'll keep my review brief.

Jukebox musicals aren’t generally my thing, but there’s an exception to every rule, and Jersey Boys must be mine.

25 Down by Richard Jordan

Queensland Theatre Company. Until July 4

This 2008 Queensland Premiere’s Drama Award winner was presented as part of the Q150 celebrations. A strictly generation Y play, it has broader applications than its gay focus. It glided unobtrusively onto the stage and at the end, slid away equally quietly. The mood was one of aimlessness and compliance, of an intelligent generation so indoctrinated for changing careers and diminishing opportunities that they waft through life adapting to anything life throws at them.

August: Osage County

Melbourne Theatre Company. Playhouse. Until July 4.

Dale Ferguson's set basically summarises the MTC production of August Osage County. It is a massive triple level house. Every naturalistic detail is there and this play by Tracy Lett's is epic in every sense of the word. . Simon Phillips and the MTC have given Melbourne a tour-de-force of what I am sure will one day be considered one of the greatest American plays of all time. (It has already won a Pultizer Prize, a number of Tony Awards and there is now a film version in development.)

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