Reviews

H.M.S. Pinafore

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Siren Theatre Company / Sydney Festival. Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. January 13 – 23, 2021.

When I was a lad, enamored with Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, the stagings were slavishly ‘traditional’ - W.S Gilbert’s original 19th century direction remained the increasingly stale holy grail for enthusiasts. Thankfully, times have changed.

Since the handbrake of copyright was released, Gilbert’s satirical topsy turvy scripts and Sullivan’s delightful scores have had many a new interpretation, or fresh coat of paint.

It’s Not Me, It’s Definitely You: The Songs of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen

By Lisa Woodbrook. FringeWorld. The Hat Trick, Woodside Pleasure Gardens, Northbridge WA. Jan 15-25, 2021

It’s Not Me, It’s Definitely You: The Songs of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen is a returning FringeWorld favourite which looks at the dilemmas of modern relationships.

Written and performed by Lisa Woodbrook, this is a beautiful blend of song and very natural and funny stand-up comedy. Lisa, who is lovely to listen to, can really hold the crowd and her interactions between songs are funnier and more surprising than you would normally expect to hear in cabaret.

Everything’s Kinda Stupid

Written and directed by Courtney Withers and Izzy Stonehouse. FringeWorld. Home Economics at The Girls School, East Perth, WA. Jan 15-24, 2021

Everything’s Kinda Stupid marks the debut of the delightfully named "every other theatre company”, whose vibrant and pacy little production bursts with wonderful ideas, enthusiasm with some impressive performers and clever writing.

AutoCannibal

By Mitch Jones. Sydney Festival. Carriageworks. January 13 – 17, 2021

He might be the planet’s last survivor but Mitch Jones stirs up pathos and laughter, even as he finally eats himself.

In his dystopian space of rubbish furniture, plastic bags and skewered lighting, he first blends into a smoothie all his available bits – dandruff, hairs, piss, sweat – but with the theatrical aplomb of a TV chef.

Perhaps he’s a former newsreader. In his shredded suit, he looks like those others flashing up on the old TVs amongst the scaffolding, with news of meteoric temperatures and new laws allowing the sale of body-parts.

Les Misérables

By Claude-Michel Schönberg (music) and Alain Boubil (lyrics), based on the book by Victor Hugo. Adelaide Youth Theatre (AYT). Influencers’ Church, Paradise, SA. Jan 14 – 16, 2021

Les Misérables is one of the iconic musicals of our times. Premiering in English in 1985, it has been presented to great acclaim all over the world and is a benchmark for amateur and professional musical theatre companies alike.

Skylight

By David Hare. Presented by Verendus Theatrical supported by Red Phoenix Theatre and Holden Street Theatres. Holden Street Theatres, Adelaide SA. 14 - 23 Jan 2021

Story lines in the realm of theatre (and film) are liberally sprinkled with tales of thwarted relationships and Skylight by David Hare (written in 1994) definitely sits in this category. It is, however, infused with other complex layers that challenge the audience and inform the trajectory of the play and its characters.

Shrek – The Musical

Music: Jeanine Tesori. Book & Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire. Gordon Frost Organisation. Director: Jason Moore & Rob Ashford. Musical Director: Dave Skelton. Choreography: Cristina D’Agostino. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. From 14 January 2021

The doors were open again and despite an audience wearing face-masks and 50% capacity, there was a heightened buzz in the air. This was, after all, the first major production to open at QPAC after the Coronavirus lockdown.

Shrek The Musical is based on Dreamworks hugely successful 2001 animated motion picture and the 1990 book by William Steig, about a green ogre, Shrek (Ben Mingay) whose swamp has been invaded by various fairytale characters who have been kicked out of Duloc by the diminutive Lord Faquaad (Todd McKenney).

And Then She Became a Chair

Created & performed by Michelle Myers. Theatre Works Glasshouse, St Kilda. 3 – 16 January 2021

Michelle Myer leaves a message for the audience on the little tables in each of Theatre Works Glasshouse Perspex booths: ‘this show is about my mother dying of cancer thanks, Michelle xx’  This gives us something to hang onto in what follows.  But, of course, it also betrays an anxiety that maybe we won’t ‘get it’. 

The Shape of Things

By Neil LaBute. Lambert House Enterprises. Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville. January 8 – 31, 2021.

LaBute’s play, written in 2001, has lost none of its astute ability to manipulate the audience. Nor does it lose the power of its final, disturbing scenes. LaBute craftily beguiles the audience with what appears to be a love story, albeit one that appears to condone the power of one person to hurt another in the name of art. In doing so, he raises such issues as the real nature of romance, friendship, personal identity, body image, honesty in relationships – and just what can be called ‘art’.

Sunshine Super Girl

Written and directed by Andrea James. Performing Lines and Sydney Festival Sydney Town Hall. January 8 – 17, 2021

This was a magical night in the theatre, fusing an extraordinary Australian story with beautiful stagecraft.

At its core is the spirit of Evonne Goolagong, and her transformation from a seven-year-old Aboriginal girl peering longingly onto a tennis court, with not enough money for a racquet or sandshoes, into a world champion.

The set (what an apt word) for the production was (naturally) a tennis court.Members of the audience were on either side in the grandstands.

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