Reviews

A Midsummer Night's Dream

By William Shakespeare. Garrick Theatre. Directed by Peter Clark. Marloo Theatre, Greenmount, WA. April 1 – 26, 2014 (in repertory)

The Shakespeare Anniversary Festival is being held to commemorate the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare; three theatre groups in Perth's hills are working together at the home of Darlington Theatre Players, to present three strikingly different Shakespeare plays.

A Midsummer Night's Dreamis presented by Garrick Theatre. Set on the reproduction Shakespearian era stage - the standard setting for all three festival shows; simple additions help to establish the Palace of Theseus and a wood near Athens.

The Government Inspector

By Simon Stone, with Emily Barclay; devised by the cast. Featuring a short musical by Stefan Gregory. Inspired by Nikolai Gogol. Belvoir. Mar 27 – May 18, 2014.

Actor Robert Menzies enters first with the true story – we are not seeing The Philadelphia Story as planned because the estate of a recently discovered co-writer withheld the rights. And, no doubt, objected to the radical reworking you’d expect director Simon Stone to inflict on that classic spoof of New York high society. 

Bernadette Peters in Concert

Australian Tour 2014. Theatre Royal, Sydney, April 2 – 4, 2014, Jupiters Casino, Gold Coast, April 5 & Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, April 7 & 8.

We were not so much part of an audience – more a congregation to worship at her feet.

Bernadette Peters shimmered and sparked onto the stage. She flirted and flitted those long red juicy curls, still impossibly attractive, for the age which Wikipedia dobs her in for, but a gentleman would not publish.

The sermon was musical theatre at its most sultry, beautifully wrapped in delicious lighting and musical accompaniment.

1984

By George Orwell. Created by Shake & Stir Theatre Company. Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. April 1 & 2, 2014 and touring.

The task of taking any novel from the page to the stage – especially the touring stage – is never easy. To attempt to re-create the monstrous, oppressive regime of George Orwell’s 1984 would seem doubly daunting. Yet Queensland’s shake & stir company have done so brilliantly. This play is on tour across the eastern states during the next three months. You shouldn’t miss it!

Lady Windermere’s Fan

By Oscar Wilde. Hobart Repertory Theatre Society. Playhouse Theatre, Hobart. Director: Allan Jeffrey. 28 March – 12 April, 2014

One hundred and twenty two years on, is Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan still relevant?

Yes, if you see the Hobart Repertory Theatre Society most recent production, under the direction of Allan Jeffrey. As a fine example of the Comedy of Manners genre, a witty, ironic form of drama that satirizes the manners and fashions of a particular social class or set, LWF shows that there are still hypocrisies in society. Gossiping is bullying, and we still have that.

Tres Miserables

Seemingly Evil Productions. Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Downstairs Lounge@The Swanston Hotel, Grand Mercure, 195 Swanston Street, Melbourne. Nightly at 9pm Mar 27 – April 5, 2014

Tres Miserables; 50 songs, 30 characters, 3 performers and 60 minutes. It’s every Les Mis fan’s dream isn’t it? This is by no means the first time that a long and ambitious work, musical or otherwise, has had the edited comedic treatment; from Forbidden Broadway to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare it’s a tried and tested formula. What makes it work is strength of the writing and the performers themselves. So, does Tres Mis carry on the tradition admirably? It does.

12 Angry Men

Based on the movie by Reginald Rose, adapted by Sherman Sergel. Ballina Players. Players Theatre, Ballina. Director: Jackie Reidy. March 28th to April 12th, 2014

Jackie Reidy has a hit on her hands with her production of 12 Angry Men.

12 men sitting around a room arguing may not be everyone’s idea of a good night’s entertainment but this show had the audience involved right from the start.

Games of Love and Chance

Victorian Opera. Conductor: Richard Mills. Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University. March 29, 2014.

Victorian Opera opened their 2014 season with a concert at Monash University. Apart from being an undoubted triumph, it highlighted the gulf between the former VSO and VO. While the VSO concentrated on spectacular performances of the major operatic works, which eventually killed it, VO performs less popular works, therefore not competing with Opera Australia.

The Removalists

By David Williamson. Gold Coast Little Theatre. Director: Patrick Monteath. March 29th to April 19th, 2014

First time Director has had a difficult time of getting his production of The Removalists to the stage; with numerous unavoidable cast changes resulting in him taking on the major role of Constable Neville Ross as well as controlling the action and pace of the show. And he proved to everyone he was equal to both tasks.

Pete the Sheep

Adapted from Jackie French’s book, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, by Eva De Cesare, Tim McGarry and Sandra Eldridge. Composer / Lyricist Phillip Scott. Monkey Baa Theatre Company. Darling Quarter Theatre. March 29 – April 24, 2014, then touring.

How important it is that companies such as Monkey Baa continue to make great theatre for kids! And this, their newest production, is another creative feather in their theatrical cap – a musical adaptation of 2014-15 Australian Children’s Laureate Jackie French’s delightful book about accepting difference and change.

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