Reviews

The Sum of Us

by David Stevens. HIT Productions. Parade Playhouse, NIDA (Aug 3 – 6, 2011), and touring.

It is a little presumptuous of HIT to advertise this production of The Sum of Us as the “Australian Stage Premiere”, considering that it has been staged – and staged well – by community theatre groups ever since the rights became available. Nevertheless, this is a very contained production.

Special

By The Rabble. Director: Emma Valente. La Mama Courthouse Theatre (Vic). August 5 – 21, 2001.

The Club

By David Williamson. Director: Isobel Denholm. Theatre on Brunker, at St Stephen’s Hall, Adamstown (Newcastle, NSW). August 5 to 27.

EYEBROWS were raised when Isobel Denholm was named as the director of The Club. What would a woman know about the wheeling-dealing and disputes that went on in the world of players and committee members of a football club?

But Denholm has had a husband and three sons, all football fanatics, so she’s well aware of the passions sports can raise. That was certainly evident in this production, which was the best of many stagings of The Club I have seen since its 1977 premiere.

Cabaret

By John Kander & Fred Ebb. Zen Zen Physical Theatre, QPAC, PowerArts Production. Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. Director: Lynne Bradley. Musical Director: John Rodgers. Choreographer: Martyn Flemming. 4-20 August 2011.

Watching Zen Zen’s production of Cabaret I kept wishing Kander and Ebb had made it shorter. One hour and forty minutes for a first act was way too long.

Sing On Through Tomorrow

The Songs of Matthew Robinson. Producer / Director: Neil Gooding. Musical Director: Peter Rutherford. Choreographer: Nathan M. Wright. Sidetrack Theatre, Marrickville (NSW). August 4 – 14, 2011.

After numerous song cycles extracted from the shows of moderately successful American composers, what a joy it is to be thoroughly entertained by a collection of musical theatre songs from up-and-coming Australian songwriter Matthew Robinson.

Robinson’s first musical, Metro Street, was staged by the State Theatre Company of SA in 2009, his second musical, Happy People, is still in development, and he has also written songs for three cabaret shows.

And No More Shall We Part

By Tom Holloway. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables Theatre. August 4 – September 3, 2011.

‘I won’t ask if you enjoyed it,’ a friend said as I left the theatre.

A good way to start the conversation – this was a harrowing 85 minutes of theatre. In this tough, unrelenting, yet engrossing play, the close-to-home suburban setting, recognizable characters, and the intimacy of the space, amplify the themes and theatrical experience.

Water Wars

By Elaine Acworth. La Boite Indie and Umber Productions. Roundhouse Theatre, 3-20 August, 2011.

Third play in the La Boite Indie season, this one is a bottler!

Based on reports of neighbourhood friction under Brisbane’s level-5 water restrictions in the final drought years, Elaine Acworth wrote a play to portray the situation. Then came the 2011 floods, so she adapted her era to 2025 when, she figures, Brisbane may again be similarly water-restricted.

The Merry Widow

Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Opera Australia and Opera North (UK). Operetta by Franz Lehar. Libretto: New translation and adaptation by Kit Hesketh-Harvey with Giles Havergal. Director: Giles Havergal. August – November 2011.

The program for this new production of perennial favourite The Merry Widow reminds us that the previous Opera Australia Widow was Dame Joan Sutherland who, on her first entrance, “appeared at the top of an 88-step staircase surrounded by men and then seemingly effortlessly descended the stairs to stage level”. This extravagant production, said The Australian review, “must have cost a fortune”.

Identify

Quantum Leap. Artistic Director Ruth Osborne. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. 3-6 August, 2011.

The Farnsworth Invention

By Aaron Sorkin. New Theatre (NSW). Director: Louise Fischer. July 13 to August 13, 2011.

Through a Wikipedia wormhole brightly!

Big ideas are often simple, but explaining them can be damnably complex. And sometimes the inventors lie.

Interpersonal communication lies at the heart of this tall tale of the creation of the two most significant communication devices in human history.

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