La Traviata

By Verdi. Opera Australia. Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. July 30 – August 31, 2013

This one has all those clichés of opera – the fallen woman forced into moral redemption and a lingering consumptive death. It also has the most beautiful melodies and few moments of opera tedium.

A New Way to Pay Old Debts

By Philip Massinger. Brisbane Arts Theatre. 26 Jul – 24 Aug, 2013.

Massinger was a Jacobean playwright whose works slipped into archive recesses after successful productions. This social satire with an underdog-overcomes-oppressor theme resonates even today. Well done BAT and Ron Kelly for introducing Brisbane to it!

Massinger lightens his theme with comedy; director, Ron Kelly, and his cast spice it liberally with panache while retaining the archaic language. They play it in modern dress, even adding mobile phones and i-pads. I had trouble reconciling the five hundred year gap; might have been easier in a modernised version.



Based on a screenplay by Ingmar Bergman. A Fraught Outfit production. Belvoir Theatre, Sydney. Director: Adena Jacobs. 24 July – 18 August, 2013.

Adena Jacobs’ stage version of the Ingmar Bergman 1966 cinema masterwork comes to Sydney with considerable clout and interest. It won five of the eight available 2012 Melbourne Green Room Awards for Independent Theatre — best Production, Direction, Design, Lighting, Female Performer. And Ms Jacobs is not only the Artistic Director of Fraught Outfit, the company that devised this Persona, she’s recently been appointed as one of Belvoir’s two new Resident Directors.

Other Desert Cities

By Jon Robin Baitz. Directed by Kate Cherry. Black Swan State Theatre Company. Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA, Perth, WA. Jul 20-Aug 4, 2013.

As the lights rise on Other Desert Cities, the audience are greeted with one of the most sumptuous and expensive looking sets ever to grace the stage of a Perth based play. A stunning Palm Springs mansion, complete with floor to ceiling windows, beautiful and elegant flooring and a pool deck with pool (and water), Christina Smith's set design literally sets the scene for a high quality production. This is clearly a luxurious and beautiful home, an oasis in the surrounding desert - a dangerous and inhospitable surround.


By Melissa Bubnic. Griffin Theatre Company. SBW Stables. July 19 – August 30, 2013.

Griffin Theatre's newest offering Beached is a brutal look at the seductive nature of reality TV. It's a mash-up of the current styles that have littered our television screens for years, but uses the medical intervention as its centrepiece. 

Meet Arthur Arthur (yes a man with two first names) or Arty (Blake Davis) as he is referred to. Arty is 18 and weighs 400 kilograms. He is the world's heaviest teenager and 'Shocking Fat Stories' is here to help.


At Home at the Zoo

By Edward Albee. Directed by Tanya Gruber. Presented by Something Borrowed Theatre (ACT). Smith’s Alternative, Civic, Canberra. 18, 19 and 20 July, 2013

It was lovely to squeeze into the hippest venue in Canberra for some intellectual stimulation, presented by brand new company Something Borrowed. At Home at the Zoo opens with Peter absorbed by “the most boring book [his company] has ever published,” when his wife, Ann, starts to hint at unhappiness within their marriage. Simmering tensions rise and climax with alarming revelations by both characters. Peter escapes to the park for some peace, but fatefully meets Jerry with tragic consequences.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare. Director: Jordan Best. The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. July 24 – August 3, 2013

Jordan Best again demonstrates her comedy skills with this wonderful adaptation, which is about as far from the 1999 overblown, unfunny movie version as it’s possible to get. With flawless timing, Best coaxes energetic clowning from her actors. The cast includes several CAT Award winners and Q favourites, such as Jenna Roberts stealing scenes as a sexy, frustrated Helena chasing Duncan Driver, who transforms Demetrius into a slack-jawed mouth-breathing twit.

The Tap Pack

Created by Jesse Rasmussen, Jordan Pollard and Thomas J Egan. Directed by Nigel Turner Carroll. Chapel off Chapel (Vic). July 24th – August 4th, 2013

I am an unashamed tap fanatic. From the time I was born my Mum never sang me to sleep….she danced for me. And what dancing! A great hoofer, she was taught by the fabulous Nicholas Brothers. So I confess to mixed feelings on going to see The Tap Pack. I wanted to love it, but was afraid that it wouldn’t match the dancing of my youth and I would be disappointed.


By Dianne Samuels. Theatre on Chester, Epping (NSW). July 26 – August 17, 2013.

The stage is a cluttered attic hunkering under wooden beams. Old suitcases line one wall, cardboard boxes the other. Worn, rejected pieces of furniture and forgotten toys litter the space. “There are stories here,” the set suggests, “memories and history.” And as the title and notes from Director Carla Moore imply, the stories go way back to the late 1930s, to Germany, and the terror and violence of the anti-Semitism that crytalised with the Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.


Book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Music and Lyrics by Marc Shaiman. Lyrics by Marc Shaiman. Packemin Productions. Riverside Theatre, Paramatta. July 27 - August 10, 2013

Let’s cut to the chase. Jon English in a dress – who’d have thought? The macho Pirate King now in drag as Edna Turnblad, the mother of a teenage tearaway desperate to break into television in 1962.

From Baltimore to Parramatta he was a sight to behold. For starters he has impressive legs, although high heels was a bridge too far. Well done for resisting tattoos over the years on those slender arms on display. Teams of seamstresses and wig stylists would have needed weeks to create his explosive frocks and curls.

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