Reviews

Two Weeks With The Queen

Written by Mary Morris, from the book by Morris Gleitzman. Javeenbah Theatre Company, Qld. Directed by Trevor Love. May 14 - 29, 2021

Community Theatre has never been more important than it is now. Large-scale main stage productions are just beginning to return, but not all of us have access or, indeed, the mega-dollars required for a ticket. It falls to companies like Javeenbah to keep entertainment alive in the suburbs, and they do it well and with great commitment.

Voyage

Written and composed by Helen Begley. Presented by The Good Girl Song Project. Directed by Ruby Rees. fortyfivedownstairs theatre, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. 13 – 23 May 2021.

This is a story squarely focused on the experience of immigrant women from Britain during the colonial era. Ordinary but somewhat desperate women were enticed to Australia with the promise of a better life only to find an environment characterised by cruelty and hardship upon their arrival.

The Gospel According to Paul

Written & performed by Jonathan Biggins. Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse. 11 – 23 May 2021

‘Paul’ is of course Paul Keating, and this is Jonathan Biggins’ impression of our former reforming Treasurer (1983-91) and our 24th Prime Minister (1991-96).  Mr Biggins doesn’t so much impersonate Paul Keating as represent him in all his complexity.  The voice and the walk aren’t exactly right, but we recognise both.  You wouldn’t describe this show as hagiography, but it’s clear that Mr Biggins admires and even loves his subject.  Probably indebted to Kerry O’Brien’s extensive 2013 interviews, and

Incognito

By Nick Payne. Directed by Brendan Ellis. Melville Theatre, Stock Rd, Palmyra, WA. May 7-22, 2021

Incognito features three interconnected storylines, and examines what forms a person’s identity - whether it be memories, achievements or relationships. With storylines spanning from 1955 to 2017, four actors play eighteen roles, moving swiftly between characters and storylines.

TOME

Freeroam Theatre Inc. Directed by Jhi Rayner. The Sideshow, West End. Anywhere Festival, Brisbane. 14 and 15 May, 2021

I think it was Peter O'Toole who once likened stage acting to an ice sculpture that is unique each performance and of course, melts afterwards, never to be seen again. Freeroam Theatre is experimenting with improvised performances that highlight this aspect of the theatrical experience. Freeroam Theatre is a very young, very new theatre company developed by performers who are recent graduates of the Bachelor of Creative Industries (Acting and Performance) in Wagga Wagga. The cast for TOME is: Charles Sykes; Keeden Hendriks; Sally Jackson; Natasha Shimpf and Haya Arzidin.

Clue on Stage

By Johnathan Lynn, adapted from the screenplay by Hunter Foster, Eric Price and Sandy Rustin. Directed by Jordan D’Arcy. Garrick Theatre, Meadow St, Guildford, WA. May 6-22, 2021

Clue on Stage is a campy, consciously theatrical, stage adaptation of the film of the same name - itself a homage to the boardgames, known in Australia as Cluedo. Six eccentric characters gather in a mansion for a dinner party - invited by the mysterious Mr Boddy. Throw in an eccentric butler, the compulsory French maid and a number of quirky cameos - and you have a night of murder and mayhem.

YIRRAMBOI Festival Opening Night

Melbourne. 6 to 16 May 2021

Smoke billows from the cleansing fire on a mild Melbourne autumn evening. The space is surrounded by gumtrees and the words “Our Narratives, Our Way” are projected onto the walls enclosing the Malthouse Outdoor Stage. The show opens with Neon Ngargee (Corroboree), led by Amos Roach (Archie Roach’s son), dancing through the crowd. The Welcome to Country is done by two of the festival’s matriarchs, Boonwurrung Elder, N’Arweet Carolyn Briggs and Woiwurrung Elder Aunty Di Kerr.

The Music Of The Night - The Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Spears Entertainment. Director: Theresa Borg. Producer: Caitlin Spears. Musical Director & Arrangements: Stephen Gray. Choreographer: Celina Yuen. Chapel Off Chapel, Melbourne. May 12 - 16, 2021.

This year marks two musical theatre milestones for British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber - the 40th anniversary of Cats and 35 years of The Phantom Of The Opera. A musical with lyrics based on T. S. Eliot poems, featuring singing and dancing felines? Who could have predicted it's worldwide popularity.

A German Life

By Christopher Hampton. Starring Robyn Nevin. John Frost for The Gordon Frost Organisation. Directed by Neil Armfield. Canberra Theatre Centre. 11 – 16 May, 2021 and touring

As a young woman in the mid-1930s, the naive and apolitical Brunhilde Pomsel found herself seconded to the Department of Propaganda to work as a secretary for Joseph Goebbels. She went on to live to 106 and was one of the last people alive who had been with the Nazi elite right up until the end. Based on many hours of interviews conducted in 2012 for a documentary, Christopher Hampton’s play accurately captures her voice—intelligent, pragmatic, articulate and resourceful. She was also ordinary and not evil. She had Jewish friends. Her father had Jewish clients.

Animal Farm

By George Orwell. Adapted by Nick Skubij. Created by Shake & Stir. Director Michael Futcher. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre. 6-9 May and touring

In this era of Trump, war in Israel, post-Brexit blues and an increasing gap between rich and poor, shake & stir’s adaptation of the Orwell classic Animal Farm is as timely as it is colourful and thought provoking. While no less dark than Orwell’s 1984, Animal Farm is made less horrifying and more accessible by its fairy-tale setting of anthropomorphic farm animals.

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