Reviews

American Pyscho

Book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik, with classic ‘80s hits from Phil Collins, Tears for Fears, New Order and Huey Lewis and the News. BB-Arts Entertainment & Two Doors Productions. Playhouse, Sydney Opera House. June 8 – 27, 2021

Stephen Sondheim surprised us when he wrote a musical called Assassins and another  about a murderous barber, Sweeney Todd.  American Pyscho is far darker. 

It’s based on Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 horrific tale of a privileged narcissistic Wall Street success who turns to serial killing in an attempt to feel something. The 2000 film and this thriller musical version hold back a touch on Ellis’ blood and gore, throwing the switch to high camp satire and laughter.

Tsitsanis, Hatzidakis, Xarchakos, Theodorakis: Songs of Liberation by Greece’s Four Great Composers

Musical Director and Conductor: Dimitris Calligaros. International Vocalist: Dimitris Basis. Concert Hall, QPAC. 4 June 2021

There was a lot of love in the air last night in the Concert Hall: waves of love from the musicians, waves of love from the singer, and waves of love from the audience for the performance. Celebrating two centuries of liberation from the Ottoman Empire, the songs of four of Greece’s contemporary composer Gods - Vassilis Tsitsanis, Manos Hatzidakis, Stavros Xachakos and Mikis Theodorakis - have been responsible for founding the modern Rebetiko and Laiko genres of popular Greek music.

Death Becomes Her

Eva Kong and Alex Raineri. Opera Queensland. Opera Queensland Studio, South Bank, Brisbane. 4 and 5 June 2021

This year's Opera Queensland recital programme started in February and runs until September 2021. In the small Opera Queensland South Bank Studio, the series is a brilliant opportunity to see main-stage opera stars and hear the power of their (relatively unamplified) human voices in a wonderfully intimate space. It is also a chance to feel you are sitting in on a dress rehearsal, hearing the singers talk informally about their journey in song. 

A German Life

Written by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Neil Armfield. Presented by John Frost for the Gordon Frost Organisation. Playhouse Theatre, QPAC. 1 – 20 June, 2021

One of the enduring questions for those of us looking back through time at what happened during the Third Reich is, “How did ordinary citizens sit by and let it happen?” In A German Life - the true story of Brunhilde Pomsel (Robyn Nevin) - you may find some answers. The play is drawn from 235 pages of transcribed interviews with Ms Pomsel, who was disinterested in politics and claimed to be unaware of the atrocities being committed by the Nazis, even while working as a secretary for Goebbels himself!

Milk

By Dylan Van Den Berg. Played by Dylan Van Den Berg, Katie Beckett and Roxanne McDonald. Directed by Ginny Savage. The Street, Canberra. World Premiere. 4-12 June 2021

200 years of theft—of cultural continuity, land, children, liberty and often lives, each decade bringing a new form of oppression—have left generations of Indigenous Australians traumatised. Palawa man Dylan Van Den Berg’s exploration of his culture has resulted in the play Milk, where the protagonist finds himself on Flinders Island and able to ask the spirits of his grandmother and great-grandmother about events that have been hidden from him. Slowly, he becomes aware of stories of hardship and heartbreaking tragedy.

Blithe Spirit

By Noël Coward. Pymble Players. June 2 – 26, 2021

Upon taking my seat for this production, I was immediately impressed by the presentation and functionality of the set.  There are French Doors centre back and two single doors quite deep upstage on either side which both cleverly open with the doors downstage to as not to reveal any of the actors or potential paraphernalia in the wings.  The scenery is mostly blue with artistic touches of red everywhere which tie it all together nicely, creating a feeling of homeliness and warmth.

Disney Beauty and the Beast

Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tim Rice. Book by Linda Woolverton. Queensland Musical Theatre Directed by Deian Ping. Twelfth Night Theatre Brisbane. June 2 – 13, 2021.

Everyone remembers that Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a cold blooded prince who has been magically transformed into an unsightly creature as punishment for his selfish ways. His friends and colleagues have also been changed. To revert into his true human form, the Beast must learn to love a bright beautiful young woman whom he has imprisoned in his enchanted castle before it is too late. The others will then also revert to normal. Being a Disney story we know what the result will be - but the question is how does that happen.

Watchlist

By Alex Vickery-Howe. South Australian Playwrights Theatre. Bakehouse Theatre. June 2-12, 2021

Basil Pepper would have been a beagle had his mother had her way. Instead, he paints fantasy figurines and attempts to work out the deeper meanings of Fred Basset cartoons. Until he meets Delia. She was a caterer at his father’s funeral, but he soon discovers she is so much more than that. She fills his head, he sleeps in her bed, and now he’s full of ideas – and action.

The Hello Girls

Music and lyrics by Peter Mills, with book by Mills and Cara Reichel. The Therry Dramatic Society. Arts Theatre, Adelaide, June 2 – 12, 2021

The Hello Girls is based on the true history (HERstory) of America’s first women soldiers. 

The Cherry Orchard

By Anton Chekhov. Upstairs Theatre, Belvoir St Theatre. May 29 – June 27, 2021

Finding new life in the classics, our directors often throw the switch to vaudeville; as though we Australians can’t abide too much psychological depth or anguish.

Chekhov argued this his last play was a comedy; his first director, Stanislavski, thought it a tragedy.  Admittedly Chekhov was close to death – and it is hard to pick the laughs!  They’re in the ironies and sad humour of this household of fallible Russian characters, individuals full of yearning and anxieties about what to do next.

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