Reviews

The Lady in the Van

By Alan Bennett. Mousetrap Theatre, Redcliffe, Qld. Directed by Graeme Roberts. July 30 – August 15, 2021

This play is the basically true story of Alan Bennett’s strained relationship and friendship with a Miss Mary Shepherd, a grubby, eccentric woman whom he allowed to park her van in the driveway for three months but who stayed for fifteen years. We, as he does, learn so much about this unusual, very different woman and the effect she has on Bennett. Much of the dialogue is between two versions of Bennett – his “real” self and his “writer” self.

Small and Cute Oh No

By Vidya Rajan. Squid Vicious. Directed by Andrew Sutherland. The Studio, The Blue Room Theatre, Perth Cultural Centre, WA. Jul 22- Aug 7, 2021

Squid Vicious’ Small and Cute Oh No is a rather dark comedy set at Christmas time in the staff break room at a shopping mall.

Andrew Sutherland has assembled an exceptional cast who work together with expertise, creating three beautifully broken characters (and a smattering of support roles). An examination of the weird, wonderful and complex people you meet in retail, it is an interesting look at understanding each other…and not.

The Mermaid

Devised & performed by Allegra Di Lallo, An Dang, Theo Boltman, Casper Plum, Flora Feldman, Marshall Morgan, Asha Randall-Sheppard, Ella Simons & Frankie Willcox; performance text by Izzy Roberts-Orr; dramaturg Vidja Raja. La Mama. La Mama Courthouse, Carlton. 30 July – 11 August 2021.

A joyous piece of collaborative invention by the teenage cast and adult theatre makers (too many to list here), The Mermaid takes off from Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 tale and makes something funny, moving, and sophisticated.  Part agit-prop, part comedy-drama, part satire and stand-up, the text throws in references to the 1989 subversive Disney animation, to Sophia Coppola’s aborted movie of the fairy tale (including quotes from the script), and a repeated catalogue of all the acts of misogynistic vandalism perpetrated on the famous statue in Copenhagen.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

By Laura Annawyn Shamus from the book by Joan Lindsay. Stray Cats Theatre Company. Directed by Karen Francis. The Fishtrap Theatre, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, WA. July 28 - Aug 1, 2021

Stray Cats Theatre Company’s Picnic at Hanging Rock is a gentle but unnerving retelling of this famous Australian story. A horror story in beautiful packaging, this production is well acted, looks gorgeous, but may induce nightmares.

Prima Facie

By Suzie Miller. Directed by Lee Lewis. Bille Brown Theatre. Queensland Theatre. July 14 – August 7, 2021

As an ex-lawyer, writer Suzie Miller has seen all sides of the Australian legal system – founded, of course, on British patriachy, established mainly to protect wealthy land-owners in the middle ages. It's an old order, deeply steeped in Latin terminology and ancient practice. The fact that legal aid was introduced in Australia in the 1970s only highlights that this this is a system that doesn't like change. So how does it serve us today?

Twice

By Jane Hille. Fenceline Theatre Company. Directed by Jane Hille. Maali Mia Theatre, Swan Christian College, Great Northern Highway, Middle Swan, WA. July 28-31, 2021

Fenceline Theatre Company presents the World Premiere of Twice, a beautiful and moving new play by Jane Hille. Featuring three mature performers, this is a story of love and loss in later adulthood and looks at the struggle of early onset dementia as well the struggles of repartnering and the need for love and acceptance.

Pirates of Penzance Jr.

By Gilbert and Sullivan. Primadonna Productions. Directed by Carole Dhu. Pinjarra Civic Centre, WA. July 23-24, 2021

One of at least three productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most famous work in WA this year, Primadonna’s Pirates of Penzance Jr. stands out. This shortened version is a delight, and still includes most of our favourite moments and songs.

KARIN

City Workshop, 23 July, 2021. Brisbane Music Festival 2021 (12 Feb to 12 Dec 2021)

The Brisbane Music Festival has been appearing in a range of large and small venues across Brisbane – and online – since February 2021. And, like other creative companies, the festival is taking advantage of the wealth of world-class talent that would normally be on tour, but is staying close to home in Queensland. Artistic Director, Alex Raineri, has put together a wonderful programme with a variety of performers and different music styles. As befitting our times, the festival also includes some exclusively digital performances.

Caesar

Written by Claire Christian, Jean Tong, Megan Wilding, Merlynn Tong and Zoey Dawson. Directed by Sanja Simić. La Boite Theatre. QUT Kelvin Grove, Brisbane. July 23 – August 7, 2021.

Something different, something new. The name of this play brings to mind the original by William Shakespeare but the link is rather tenuous at most. Caesar has been written by five women who demonstrate talents both in theatre and writing. Each was responsible for a scene, or act, in this relatively short play but the overall effect was one of unity. It could be said that the script covered the actors as they rehearsed scenes from the Caesar play of old to rehearsing their own lives in an equally direct manner. This was challenging for both the cast and the audience.

West Side Story

Music: Leonard Bernstein. Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim. Book: Arthur Laurents. Opera Australia, GWB Entertainment and BB Group Production. Director/Choreographer: Joey McKneely. Musical Director: Isaac Hayward. Lyric Theatre, QPAC. 24 July – 22 August 2021

It’s hard to believe that when West Side Story opened on Broadway in 1957 it only received two Tony Awards, one for Jerome Robbins’ Choreography and one for Oliver Smith’s set design. Running for only 734 performances, audiences were uncomfortable with the subject matter (street-gang warfare), as they were in Australia in 1960 when it was first produced here. It wasn’t until the 1961 movie version that West Side Story was acknowledged as the groundbreaker that it was.

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