Circle of Eleven. Created by Tobias Wegner. Directed by Daniel Briere. Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne. 15th-27th January, 2013.

Ssssh! What can you hear? The audience is aged between 5 and 75 yet… apart from the delighted laughter which peppers the show, you can hear ….NOTHING! No rustling, fidgeting, coughing, shuffling or kids asking “What’s he doing Mummy?” Our silence was testimony to the fact that we were all, no matter what our ages, mesmerised by the gravity defying antics of Leo, spellbound by the sheer innovation and brilliance of this one man show. Belgian Tobias Wegner is Leo, and he’s also the creator the show.


By Alana Valentine. Tredwood Productions by special arrangement with RGM Artist Group. Theatre 19 Season, Darlinghurst Theatre. Jan 4 – 27, 2012.

Prolific playwright Alana Valentine has a knack for delivering topical, often verbatim theatre based on researching real conflicts and people. With summer fires again encircling us, predictable and yet always newly shocking, Valentine takes us to a “tinderbox” country town under siege from fire.

Oh Suivant!

Performed by: Dirk Van Boxelaere, Flen Ban Herwegen. Direction: Dirk Van Boxelaere, Flen Ban Herwegen, Leandre Ribera. Music: Alain Reubens. Set: Paul Van Herwegen. Costume: Monique Jacobs. Art Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio 15 – 27 January, 2013.

Oh Suivant! is a delightfully enlivening and fun intimate circus experience, in a comfortable small theatre at the Arts Centre, where everyone gets a great view of what is happening. The three children who accompanied me, a six, an eight and an eleven year old, were engrossed by this cheeky, funny, ‘five hander’.  Well it is a ‘two hander’ really - that makes very entertaining use of audience members!

Psycho Beach Party

By Charles Busch. Theatre Works, as part of the Midsumma Festival. January 11 – 19, 2013.

Psycho Beach Party is campy fun with a hip young cast channelling all sorts of B-grade movie characters, and doing it with unfailing energy.

The Cat in the Hat

By Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel). Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. 29 December – 27 January, 2013

This high-energy show for kids aged 3-6 is being performed three times most days throughout January. The cast of six, plus stage management, work hard to great effect for the forty minutes and definitely deserve to have their names announced somewhere. But there are no foyer lists and no programs. Never mind, they are dedicated and keen, and they deliver genuine theatrical entertainment to a silent, packed house of tots, toddlers and juniors.

The Secret River

By Kate Grenville. An adaptation for the stage by Andrew Bovell. Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Festival, Allens (law firm). Director: Neil Armfield. Sydney Theatre. 8 January – 9 February, 2013.

Arriving at the Sydney Theatre for the official first night of The Secret River you can’t miss the poster that declares you’re about to see THE LANDMARK THEATRE EVENT OF 2013. That’s confidence: after all, it’s only January 12.

Jersey Boys

Book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. Music and lyrics by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe. Princess Theatre Melbourne. From Jan 12, 2013.

“Big Girls Don’t Cry” says the song, but this big girl did at last night’s opening of the return season of Jersey Boys. They were tears of nostalgia and joy for the music that painted the soundscape of my youth.  But Jersey Boys is more than just a compilation of smash hits from the Sixties. It has perhaps the best book of any musical I can think of, and that sets it apart. It has history, and drama and truth (from four different perspectives), stunning dialogue and a great story.

School Dance

By Matthew Whittet. Windmill Theatre / Sydney Festival / Sydney Theatre Company. Director: Rosemary Myers. Wharf 1, Theatre (NSW). January 10 – February 3, 2013.

School Dance is a lot of fun; it encompasses a range of emotions, schoolyard politics, stereotypes, egos and personas that we’ve all known, been a part of, or been on the wrong side of at some stage in our lives.

The premise of this play is that three friends meet outside the school dance and as they wait to go in, they invite us into their world of hormones, angst, fear, home-life, identity and emotion. While I quite liked the play, it was fairly predictable. 

Peter Pan

By J.M. Barrie. Adapted by Tommy Murphy. Director: Ralph Myers.. Set Design by Robert Cousins. Belvoir (NSW) January 9 - February 10, 2013.

The first thing that crossed my mind was how are they going to fly and where will the Pirate ship come from?  The Belvoir Street Theatre was once a tomato sauce factory and has never been converted into a regular theatre with curtains and proscenium.  

The bedroom of Wendy, Michael and John was the one and only set for this production.

On the shelves were board games with no electronic gadgetry in sight (This was the way bedrooms looked like when I was a lad). But how could this be turned into the backdrop for the adventures of Peter Pan?

The Wind in the Willows

By Kenneth Grahame. Glenn Elston / Australian Shakespeare Company. The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. January 4 – 27, 2013.

“That was fun!” A bit understated, but still not a bad review from a six year old, though, for his agehe is a fairly seasoned theatre-goer. The main thing is that he knows the story backwards and was not disappointed about anything being omitted. To be able to include all the main events, even losing little Portly Otter, means that this adaptation doesn’t disappoint kids – or parents, or grandparents – who know the characters and their little idiosyncrasies so well.

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