Reviews

Snow on Mars

Theatre of Image. By Richard Tulloch. Music by Peter Kennard. Director: Gale Edwards. York Theatre, Seymour Centre (NSW) January 7 – 16, 2011.

Theatre of Image, under the leadership of Kim Carpenter, has the knack of producing beautiful looking productions which appeal to many senses in both adults and children.

Snow on Mars, which combines circus acrobatics, digital animation, choreography, music and video, is probably the company's most ambitious production to date.

As per the company's high standards, it was very attractive to look at, but I felt the combination of so many ingredients slightly overwhelmed the story.

A Life in Three Acts

Presented by Sydney Festival and Sydney Theatre Company. Written by Bette Bourne and Mark Ravenhill. Directed by Mark Ravenhill. Wharf 1. January 4 – 16, 2011

There’s a problem of identification here. The Wharf 1 program calls this a ‘play’. It isn’t: it’s a sort of an under-rehearsed chat show without a Michael Parkinson or an Andrew Denton to keep it flowing. And it’s in two acts, not three.

Aladdin and the Mysterious Magical Lamp

By Tim O’Connor and Sarah McIntosh. Harvest Rain Theatre Company, Cremorne Theatre, QPAC (QLD). Director: Sarah McIntosh. Designer: Josh McIntosh. 6 – 22 January 2011

Aladdin and the Mysterious Magical Lampmarks Harvest Rain’s third school holiday production at QPAC, and they have at last perfected the winning formula that makes a children’s pantomime truly fire – high energy, loads of silliness, some clever puppetry, audience participation and plenty of sight gags.

BRIEFS and SOAP

Briefs - The Studio, Sydney Opera House, January 4 – 15, 2011. Soap - The Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, January 4 – 23.

Briefs and Soap are two strikingly similar, yet wildly different and somewhat unexpected ‘circus-style’ shows playing a double bill at The House.

The Gruffalo’s Child

Adapted by Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchel from the children’s book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Score by Jon Fiber, Andy Shaw and Olivia Jacobs. Christine Dunstan Productions and Tall Stories. Seymour Centre, Sydney. April 8 – 21, 2011.

This adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s sequel to The Gruffalo brings the original characters back to the stage with the addition of the curious, daring and very engaging, Gruffalo’s child. Played by Chandel Brandmarti, this brave little offspring of the Gruffalo is vibrant and bouncy, wide-eyed  and expressive, capturing the young audience and keeping it entranced, from the moment she slips off her sleeping father’s knee to find The Big Bad Mouse until she races back into his embrace after her adventures.

Dein Perry's Tap Dogs.

15th Anniversary Season. Directed and Designed by Nigel Triffitt. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Five week season from January 5, 2011.

The last time I saw the Tap Dogs my son tapped away from inside the womb...  or so my wife reliably informs me.

So it was appropriate that, now aged 12, he accompany me to the company's latest production which debuted in Sydney.

It was tough to convince him to come, as sport not the arts, dominates his psyche.

But very soon he thanked me for dragging him along, as this show was as tough and physical as any titanic sporting contest.

Wish I'd Said That

Written and Performed by Henri Szeps. Ensemble Theatre. Until January 29, 2011.

Henri Szeps would make a fabulous dinner party guest.

Erudite, witty, bright as a button with a sharp memory, you could imagine him holding court into the wee hours. For that reason alone Wish I'd Said That is a thoroughly enjoyable night of theatre.

He covers territory and musings ranging from an excerpt of King Lear's speech to his three daughters, pearls of wisdom about science, sprinkled with jokes including my favourite, about a Jewish man with a stutter auditioning for a job as a newsreader.

The Diary of a Madman

By Nikolai Gogol, adapted by David Holman, with Neil Armfield and Geoffrey Rush. Belvoir (NSW). Director: Neil Armfield. Composer: Alan John. Designer: Catherine Martin. Lighting Design: Mark Shelton. Sound Design: Paul Charlier. December 8, 2010 to February 6, 2011.

Ah, the prestige of sharpening the boss’s quills! This is the proud career pinnacle of Poprishchin, a lowly clerk in the Russian civil service, much to the envy, real or imagined, of his colleagues.

Surely enough to send anyone around the twist, but when Geoffrey Rush interprets Gogol’s Madman, madness equals virtuoso theatrical pyrotechnics.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Brisbane Arts Theatre (Qld). Nov 27 – Dec 18, 2010

I was looking forward to this premiere, a musical reworking of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. With book by Tony Millett and Sally Daly, music and lyrics by Shane and Sally Daly, it is a big cast, glamorous extravaganza aimed mainly at adults. (In parallel BAT is presenting matinee seasons of The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus for families).

Nine

By Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit. Director: Paul Treasure. Roleystone Theatre, WA. Nov 19 – Dec 4.

Many, many years after its appearance elsewhere, the musical Nine finally had its WA Premiere, with this fine version directed by Paul Treasure.

Solid musical direction by Sarah Cosstick leading a small live band and well-executed choreography by Emma David, backed a well selected and talented cast.

The single set, designed by Stephen Carr, was striking and beautifully constructed, and its multiple levels were well used.

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