Reviews

We Will Rise

Topology at the Princess Theatre, Brisbane. 30 October 2020 (then touring regional Queensland)

Topology’s We Will Rise tour marks the launch of the Brisbane-based, Aria-nominated classical music quintet’s 16th album – a greatest hits collection that showcases the quintet’s two decades of original material. The performance features a back catalogue plus new pieces pick ‘n’ mix of compositions by John Babbage (saxophone), Robert Davidson (bass), and Bernard Hoey (viola), highlighting the talents of other principal artists, Christa Powell (violin) and Therese Milanovic (piano).

A Doll’s House

By Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Susie Conte. Tempest Theatre. Directed by Susie Conte. The Studio, Subiaco Arts Centre, WA. Oct 29-31, 2020

It is perhaps not surprising that Tempest Theatre, a company that focuses on feminist theatre would eventually examine A Doll’s House - one of the most iconic and controversial pieces of modern feminist theatre.

The Wind In The Willows

Music: George Stiles. Lyrics: Anthony Drewe. Book: Julian Fellowes. Direction: Rachel Kavanaugh. Musical Direction: Simon Lee. Choreography: Aletta Collins. London Paladium Production 2017. Streaming free on The Shows Must Go On. 29-30 October 2020.

If I were giving out stars then I’d have to say this would be a three out of five and that’s generous. When I reviewed the original cast recording in 2018 I found it ‘proficient, but unfortunately tediously twee,’ and I’m afraid viewing it live doesn’t make me want to change that opinion. Kenneth Graham’s 1908 book about the bucolic river life of Ratty, Badger and Mole, has been loved for generations, but for this adaptation Julian Fellowes lacks his Downton Abbey mojo, with not one quotable line in the entire show.

When the Rain Stops Falling

By Andrew Bovell. PAANDA - Performing Arts Association of Notre Dame Australia. Directed by Hannah Quaden. Notre Dame University, Fremantle. Oct 27 - Nov 7, 2020

When the Rain Stops Falling was an excellent choice of play for this young company, a fresh Australian contemporary show which is a bit of a change for this group which has performed many British classics. Had it taken to the stage in May as intended, it would have been very popular with Yr 12 Drama students, as this text is studied in many schools. 

A Monster Unfinished

Written and Performed by Empire Youth Arts’ 2020 Senior IMPACT Ensemble. Review by Madeleine Tiller Toowoomba Empire Theatres, Toowoomba. October 23 and 24, 2020.

More than two hundred years after its publication, the story of Frankenstein still has much to offer theatre audiences, particularly in macabre 2020. In May, we streamed London’s National Theatre Live Frankenstein and found ourselves captivated by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller as they alternated the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his creature.

Footloose

Book and Lyrics: Dean Pitchford. Music: Tom Snow. Spotlight Theatre, Benowa, Gold Coast. Director: Nathan French. October 23 – November 14, 2020

Leading the return of live entertainment on the Gold Coast, Spotlight’s third show since July is Footloose, based on the movie by Dean Pitchford.

This is Nathan French’s first venture into mainstream theatre and for a young director, together with Shari Willner (Musical Director) and Martina French and Jamie Watt (co-Choreographers) has created a fabulous production.

A View From the Park

By Noel O’Neill. Maverick Theatre Productions and Old Mill Theatre. Directed by Noel O’Neill. Old Mill Theatre, South Perth WA. Oct 23 - Nov 1, 2020

A View From the Park, a co-production between Maverick Theatre Productions and Old Mill Theatre, is a collection of six short plays, written and directed by local author Noel O’Neill. All two handers, set on a park bench, there is a lovely variety to the stories, and they are being well received by Covid capacity audiences.

The set consists of a rather attractive park bench, with hints of the park and the time of day being provided by subtle lighting design by John Woolrych.

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version Of War Of The Worlds – The New Generation: Alive On Stage!

Music & Lyrics: Jeff Wayne. Additional Lyrics: Gary Osborne. Black Smoke Band, ULLAdubULLA Strings, Conductor: Jeff Wayne. O2 Arena, London, 2012. The Shows Must Go On. Live streaming on YouTube 23-25 October, 2020

Jeff Wayne’s monumental progressive rock version of H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel War of the Worlds was originally released as a two album set in 1978. It went on to become a best-seller around the world, spawned video games, DVDs and live tours.

Kate Kelly

By Merrill Findlay and Ross James Carey. Musical direction by Patrick Burns, directed by Linda Thompson. Presented by Gertrude Opera (online opera festival). 16-25 October, 2020.

This opera is a contemplative and melancholy exploration of Kate Kelly (Emily Burke, soprano) and her tumultuous relationship with the land, men and the authorities. The show opens with ‘Bricky’ Foster (Andrew Moran, baritone) whose deep tones effectively capture the hypermasculinity of his character and the regrettable actions that it cultivates. There is both a bitterness and a charm to this character and this reveals an interesting complexity to his persona.

The Backstage Sessions Live

Adelaide Guitar Festival. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide. 23 October, 2020.

As with many artists and artistic ventures in 2020, Slava Grigoryan’s Adelaide Guitar Festival was halted by the impact of Covid19.  They did, however, conceive of and produce The Backstage Sessions, presented as a series of virtual concerts and broadcast from the wings of The Adelaide Festival Theatre featuring a stellar cast of Adelaide’s guitar legends - you can still catch the recordings online. 

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