Reviews

Poof! Secrets of a Magician

Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Dunstan Playhouse, June 11-13, 2021

Image (above): Poof! at Sydney Opera House - Photo by Victor Frankowski

Poof: used to show that something has happened suddenly or by magic (Cambridge dictionary), or, a homosexual, the poor man’s term for homosexual (Urban dictionary).

Two very different meanings explored using magic, song and stand-up comedy by James Galea in his cabaret show, Poof!:Secrets of a Magician.

The Variety Gala

Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Festival Theatre. June 11, 2021

Described by Artistic Director Alan Cumming as a ‘smorgasbord of talent’, the Cabaret Festival opening event, The Variety Gala, a world premiere, may be equally well described as a Forrest Gump glamorous ‘box of chocolates’, or the exciting array of Christmas parcels under the tree that we cannot wait to open and enjoy.

Grand Horizons

By Bess Wohl. Sydney Theatre Company. Director: Jessica Arthur. Roslyn Packer Theatre June 11 – July 3, 2021.

Winter may be the time to ‘hunker down’ but it’s also the time we need a bit of cheer, and Sydney Theatre Company brings that cheer in this production. Though set in contemporary America, the play has universal appeal, requiring very little modification to change it to an Australian setting. After all, Grand Horizons could be any retirement village in any relatively wealthy first world city – and Nancy and Bill French could be any retired couple. Perhaps.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change

By Joe Di Pietro and Jimmy Roberts. Pristine Productions. Directed by David Nelson and Jane Anderson. The Actors Hub, Kensington St, East Perth, WA. June 10-12, 2021

Pristine Productions’ I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is one of those unfortunate shows that has suffered two separate Covid delays - for different lockdowns. It is making up for this by presenting this great little show in two short seasons. This one, in conjunction with Playlovers, is playing in the cosy space at the Actors Hub, with a return season in August in its originally intended venue, Downstairs at the Maj.

Come From Away

Book, music & lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Director: Christopher Ashley. Musical Director: Luke Hunter. Musical Staging: Kelly Devine. Junkyard Productions & Rodney Rigby Production. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opening Night – June 10, 2021

How hard it is to write about this wonderful production after so much has been said and written already – and everything you’ve heard or read is right! It is warm and poignant. It is fast and funny. It is both celebratory and commemorative. It is, indeed, what good verbatim theatre should be – real stories sensitively translated into a theatrical form that reminds us of the truths that need to be documented about humanity … at its worst, and its very best.

The Sleeping Beauty

Ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Queensland Ballet. Choreographer: Greg Horsman. Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor & Music Arranger: Nigel Gaynor. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. 4-19 June 2021

So much has happened and changed in the world since the Queensland Ballet had their most successful season ever six years ago when they mounted Greg Horsman’s reinterpretation of Tchaikovsky’s old-fashioned and grand fairytale The Sleeping Beauty.

Hell's Canyon

By Emily Sheehan. Presented by Regional Arts Victoria. Directed by Katie Cawthorne.Online rent on-demand. June 4-20, 2021

This is a finely crafted text that addresses coming of age issues from an insider perspective. Sheehan’s sharp and raw dialogue captures the snide belligerence that often characterises millennial teen speak. This is nicely contrasted with moments in the play that are more surreal. Here the text becomes rich and poetic, effectively taking the characters into mystical realms.

Once

Book by Enda Walsh. Music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Based on the film by John Carney Darlinghurst Theatre Company at Eternity Playhouse, Sydney. Director: Richard Carroll. 4th June – 18th July, 2021

Back to the fabulous Eternity Theatre in Darlinghurst, Sydney, comes this inventive production from 2019, with the little matter of a global pandemic intervening since we saw it last. Now, as the mist clears, we can see clearly what Once has to offer: a touching love story, great songs, compelling characters and inventive stagecraft. I feel better already.

Ugly Virgins

Written and directed by Sally Davies and Anna Lindstedt. Maiden Voyage Theatre Company and The Blue Room. Jun 1-19, 2021

Maiden Voyage’s production of Ugly Virgins, a fabulous dose of “roller derby realness”, has been well over a year in the making - but has absolutely been worth the wait. A motley crew of roller derby skaters find themselves out of luck and out of a team, so join together to lift their skills, finding out a great deal about themselves and each other along the way.

The Appleton Ladies' Potato Race

By Melanie Tait. State Theatre Company SA. Royalty Theatre. June 4-19, 2021

Whilst you could be forgiven for assuming that this is the name of a polite English comedy, it is, in fact, a 90 minute play that has at its heart, a real race held annually in the Australian country town of Robertson in New South Wales. Starting in 1913, the race was exclusively for men until the scandalous appearance, in 1988 (in our story), of cleverly disguised Alexander Strumpet who opened the floodgates to women.

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