Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 11 April 2013
Assassins, April 11, 2013 ***
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by John Weidman By Watch This 45downstairs.April 11 to 21, 2013 Reviewer:
Kate Herbert on April 11 Stars:*** Review also published online in Herald Sun on April 12 and in print after that date. KH
killers of American Presidents may seem unlikely and macabre characters for a
musical, but Stephen Sondheim, noted for his unusual themes, depicts this
motley collection of nutters in his revue-style musical, Assassins.
with Sondheim’s eclectic music and lyrics and a witty book by John Weidman, is
an old-style, musical revue set in a fairground where the proprietor of a
shooting gallery provides the would-be assassins with guns.
production, by new company Watch This, captures the bizarre nature of the
characters and the wry humour, political satire and moral commentary of the
script, but the quality of the singing and acting is uneven.
a compelling, abstract world, killers from different time periods collide, sing
about their obsessions, explain their motives through monologues, scenes and
songs, including: Everybody’s Got The Right, Another National Anthem, Something
Just Broke, and the poignant November 22, 1963, in which people recall where
they were when Kennedy was shot.
idiosyncratic songs straddle a range of styles and periods, but all bear his
signature style and ironic tones.
Simpson-Deeks, with his bright, clear, expressive vocal tones, provides the
strongest all-round performance, playing the Balladeer who narrates the story,
and giving a sympathetic, nuanced portrayal of the repressed Lee Harvey Oswald.
various assassins are all demented in some way, either trying to make their
mark on the world, to highlight the wrongs of government, or to vent their rage
at their own predicament, social failures or rejections.
Wilkes Booth (Mark Dickinson), the vainglorious actor who assassinates Abraham Lincoln
“to heal the country”, is depicted as the villain who encourages those assassins
who come after him to assert themselves by killing their target.
don’t right the wrongs”, say the lyrics of one song, but these men and women
think otherwise; in the context of America’s 21st century struggle
with weapons, this statement rings true.
Garner’s bold, comic characterisation of failed assassin, Sara Jane Moore, is
hilarious, and her comic timing and delivery are deliciously wicked.
Lucente gives a compassionate, complex portrayal of Leon Czolgosz, the
downtrodden factory worker who kills President McKinley as a political
Tsindos is playful and entertaining as the ambitious Charles Guiteau, Matt
Holly is a tender and tragic John Hinckley singing Unworthy of Your Love to
Jodie Foster, and Shane Nagle is a suitably demented Samuel Byck, dressed as a
grubby Santa Claus.