Kiss Me Like You Mean It

By Chris Chibnall. Director: Kate Shearman. MARC Up Productions. The Owl and The Pussycat, Richmond, Vic. 13-23 February, 2013

Kiss Me Like You Mean It is written by Chris Chibnall, a British playwright who is also a writer for TV with credits including Doctor Who, Life on Mars and several seasons as co-producer on Torchwood. But there’s not a wisp of science fiction or fantasy on display here. This is a strong character-driven piece, very down to earth, populated by just four characters but all of whom are engaging, interesting and believable.

The Trip

Arts Centre Melbourne and Base Berlin. The Spielgeltent, Arts Centre Melbourne forecourt. 12th February – 3rd March, 2013

You’ve got to wonder. If this is what they get up to at work, what happens when these artists let-their-hair-down!

The Trip is a seductively raunchy affair leaning heavily on in-your-face irreverence. For just over an hour acrobatics, contortionists, drag queens, comic songsters and audience fraternise in an expertly paced performance punctuated by gasps, groans, squeals and laughs.

Blood Moon

By Nicholas Kazan. Unpathed Theatre Company. Producer: Leah Russell. Director: Christopher Stollery. Tap Gallery, Darlinghurst. 5-16 February 2013

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Blood Moon reads well, but requires considerable energy, pace and subtly to deliver successfully on stage. The Unpathed Theatre Company doesn’t quite succeed, but their efforts make for an interesting premiere of Nicholas Kazan’s mid-eighties play. It’s based on a true story and emerged during the early post-feminist period. It’s full of rage, rage which is fully justified. 

Driving Miss Daisy

By Alfrew Uhry. Director: David Esbjornson. John Frost, Jed Bernstein & Adam Zotovich production. Playhouse, QPAC, from 9 February 2013; Theatre Royal, Sydney from March 2; Comedy Theatre, Melbourne from April 6; Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide from May 17 and His Majesty's Theatre, Perth from June 8.

In the hands of Broadway royalty, Driving Miss Daisy becomes not only a good play but a great one. Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines invest this basically affectionate anecdote with star power rarely seen on an Australian stage.

West Side Story

Book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Presented by Free Rain. The Q Theatre, Queanbeyan. 8 – 24 February, 2013.

Lovers of musicals are in for a treat with Free Rain’s production of West Side Story. Most people will be familiar with the plot and importance of this updated Romeo and Juliet, set and written in the 1950s, concerning the teen street gangs of 1950s west side New York. The Jets, a white working class gang, are planning a fight over territory with the Sharks, a gang of Puerto Rican migrants, when ex-Jet Tony falls in love with Maria, sister of the head of the Sharks.

The Wizard of Oz

By L Frank Baum. Music and Lyrics by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg. Incidental music by Herbert Stothart. Adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Packemin Productions. Director: Neil Gooding. Musical Director: Peter Hayward. Choreographer: Camilla Jakimowicz. Riverside Theatres Parramatta. February 8 – 23, 2013.

Indelibly etched on the hearts and memories of generation after generation thanks to the Hollywood classic, a theatre production of The Wizard of Oz, more than most other musicals, only succeeds as this one undoubtedly does by satisfying the preconceptions and emotional memories with which audience members enter the theatre.

It’s in our cultural DNA.

4000 Miles

By Amy Herzog. Directed by Mark Pritchard. Red Stitch Theatre (Vic). Feb 8th- March 9th, 2012

Any opportunity to see the sublime Julia Blake share her craft should not be missed by true theatre lovers.

Wild Eagles Fly Alone

Redback Dance Company. Direction: Trent Harlow. Choreography: Jayden Hicks. Chapel off Chapel. Feb 6th and 7th and 16th, 2013

Thanks to me getting the show time wrong on opening night, I had to catch the second performance of this exciting new company. It was well worth the double trip to the wonderfully eclectic Chapel off Chapel.

The Pitch & The China Incident

By Peter Houghton. Director: Catarina Hebbard (The Pitch), Daniel Evans (The China Incident). QTC @ Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. 2 Feb – 9 Mar, 2013.

Barbara Lowing’s solo performance in The China Incident is comic gold. Her manic day in the life of PR guru Bea Pontivac is one riot of laughs from start to finish. Whether putting a positive spin on an African dictator’s massacre, fielding inappropriate calls from the President of the United States, or setting up a sexual tryst with a U.N.

Torch Song Trilogy

By Harvey Fierstein. Gaiety Theatre in association with Mardi Gras. Director: Stephen Colyer. Darlinghurst Theatre. February 6 - March 3, 2013

Some Independent Theatre productions can be so good they outshine many from mainstage theatre companies. Particularly when they combine great skill and passion for the subject matter. Torch Song Trilogy is one of those.

The play ranges from comedy, to bed-hopping farce, to gripping drama.

It opens with the stage stripped back to the bones of the theatre walls. Three Drag Queens apply their make-up in front of stage mirrors, to prepare for a performance.

Simon Corfield shines as the wise-cracking Arnold.

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