Reviews

Shakespeare’s R&J by Jo Calarco

Parramatta Riverside June 17 – 19 and on tour including Taree, June 22; Dubbo Regional Theatte, June 24 & 25, Seymour Centre, June 29 – July 3 and QUT Gardens Theatre, Brisbane, July 12 - 17

Jo Calarco’s has set this adaptation in a Catholic Boy’s boarding school – where rules and repression mean the study of plays like Romeo and Juliet is banned. Four of the boys sneak out at night to read a copy of the play. Initial sniggering and suggestiveness fades as the emotion of the play takes over and opens them to their own emotions and sensuality.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

Epicentre Theatre Company Inc. Director: Judith Bedard. The Zenith Theatre, Chatswood (NSW). June 5 to 19.

Lennie, George and ‘Curley’s Wife,’ the dreamers of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, are outcasts in bleak, brutal Great Depression America. Adapted from the dark humanity of Steinbeck’s novella, Of Mice and Men makes a fairly grim piece of theatre too. But given strong central performances, and Judith Bedard’s penetrating direction, it also makes for moving, powerful theatre

The Chairs by Eugène Ionesco

La Boite at The Roundhouse (Qld). June 10 to July 4.

This illuminating treatment of an enigmatic Theatre of the Absurd piece is a masterpiece. Ionesco shunned theatre styles up to the mid-1950s. His early influences were Charlie Chaplin, Punch & Judy puppetry, and early Marcel Marceau mime theatre. He wanted his audiences to think for themselves and draw conclusions so he wrote anti-plays with abundant possibilities but no conclusions.

We All Fall Down

NICA. NICA National Circus Centre, Green Street, Prahran. June 15 – 26.

We All Fall Down is “playful, adventurous circus that explores the [both fun and frightening] memories of childhood.” Childhood games such as four square, flying fox, mini golf, skipping, rock/paper/scissors, and a fireman’s pole flowed seamlessly into juggling, clowning, diving, and climbing in this highly varied and energetic performance.

The Threepenny Opera music by Kurt Weill, text and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht

Newcastle Festival Opera. Cessnock and Newcastle (NSW) venues. June 4 to 20.

THE Threepenny Opera was written in 1928 as a satirical commentary on the greed of those who made fortunes out of the economic recovery that followed World War I. Eight decades on, with the revelations about financial practices that emerged from the global financial crisis, it remains a pertinent and darkly funny musical.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Theatre Royal Haymarket Company. Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide until 12 June. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House – From June 15.

Who is Godot? Where is Godot? Why are we all waiting for Godot? I wouldn't want to tell you and spoil the surprise, but I can say that despite knowing you never actually find out that answer, Sir Ian McKellen and Roger Rees made two hours of the most edge of your seat theatre I have ever seen.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Stooged Theatre. Shakespeare-on-Avon Festival, Gloucester (NSW). May 14 to 15. The Playhouse, Newcastle (NSW). July 28 to 31

As its name suggests, Stooged Theatre is a company with a passion for overt comedy. Its actors, mostly recent graduates from Newcastle University, also love Shakespeare. In their previous productions of Shakespeare’s comedies, unsubtle humour sometimes undermined good ideas. But this Midsummer Night’s Dream showed how youthful enthusiasm can win over mature and demanding audience members.

The Threepenny Opera

By Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill. Malthouse Theatre and the Victorian State Opera. Merlin Theatre until June 19. Season sold out

Since the inspiring launch of Michael Kantor’s final season as Artistic Director at Malthouse, tickets for The Threepenny Opera completely sold out. The anticipation for this co-production has been palpable. I was so, so lucky to get seats – albeit in ‘the gods’ above the orchestra and almost above the action, where I got to watch the lid of this metaphorical pressure cooker fly off.

Measure For Measure

Written by William Shakespeare. Adapted & Directed by Benedict Andrews. Company B Belvoir, Sydney. Set: Ralph Myers. Lighting: Nick Schlieper. Music/Sound: Stefan Gregory. Video: Sean Bacon. June 5 – July 25.

Shakespeare’s late ‘problem comedy’ gets a rare airing at the Belvoir in a full-on, jaw-dropping production by rising ringmaster Benedict Andrews. Well, my jaw dropped several times in the course of an unsettling and challenging evening.

A Lobster Tale

Written and directed by Stephan Jean De Jonghe KADS Theatre, Kalamunda, WA, World Premiere. May 12 – June 5.

Local writer and director Stephan Jean De Jonghe’s latest play is an adaptation of a play in which Stephan made his acting debut – Lovelife of a Crayfish by John Gill. It is clear that Stephan has great affection for the story in this gently told play. A sweet and moving story, it held the audience well, but like its predecessor at KADS this year, it would have made a superb One Act, rather than a “nice” full-length show.

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