Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Singer Must Die... Sept 25, 2013 ****

...and other bedtime stories
By Melissa Langton & Mark Jones
Chapel off Chapel, Sept 24 until Sept 29, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review  also published in Herald Sun in print on Sunday Sept 29, 2013 and online at H Sun.

In her intelligently structured and irreverent solo show, A Singer Must Die... and other bedtime stories, Melissa Langton explores songs from the dark side – tempered with plenty of black comedy.

Langton is an audacious, impressive music theatre/cabaret performer and this production, directed by her equally accomplished partner, Mark Jones, showcases her prodigious talent.

She opens with Leonard Cohen’s A Singer Must Die, a bleak but witty tune that features a disenchanted singer who laments, “I’m sorry for smudging the air with my song.”

Accompanied by her talented pianist, Stephen Gray, Langton shifts effortlessly from bold jazz numbers, to gospel, latin beats and ballads, commanding the space with her formidable voice, broad vocal range and assured, professional and passionate delivery.

The themes may be grim – disillusion, death, despair, failed love, revenge – but Langton peppers the show with waggish, whimsical or brooding characters that weave their stories of woe amongst the lyrics.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Graduate, Sept 24, 2013 ***

Adapted by Terry Johnson from Charles Webb’s novel and 1967 movie
Her Majesty’s Theatre, opens Sept 24, 2013 for limited season 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Review also published in Herald Sun online Thurs Sep 26, 2013. KH

Claire Lovering & Tim Dashwood
There are plenty of cheesy laughs in this production of The Graduate starring the lean and lovely Jerry Hall, but the show feels strangely unsatisfying – and just a little bit tired.

The play, written by the original director, Terry Johnson, was adapted from the naughty, funny and enormously successful 1967 movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, and written by masters of comedy, Calder Willingham and Buck Henry.

If you’ve been living in a cave and do not know the story, 21-year old college graduate, Benjamin Braddock (Tim Dashwood), is seduced by his parents’ married friend, Mrs. Robinson (Jerry Hall), and then, rather inconveniently falls in love with his middle-aged lover’s daughter, Elaine (Claire Lovering).

Jerry Hall looks deliciously elegant and sultry as the jaded and permanently sozzled Mrs. Robinson (think sexy cougar) and she delivers some witty one-liners with suitably acerbic disdain, although her character lacks emotional and dynamic range.

As her toy-boy, Dashwood is almost too good-looking and cool to pass as a dorky brainaic, but he plays Benjamin’s man-boy awkwardness effectively and elicits some big laughs in response to Benjamin’s slightly dated, sexual naivete.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Melbourne Festival Theatre shows 2013

The following are the Theatre shows that I am seeing and reviewing during the Melbourne Festival in October. 

I'll review only four of these (*) for Herald Sun. I will review on this blog those four and most of the others. KH


 Brief Encounter by Kneehigh
Mon Oct 7 The Beast (by Eddie Perfect) MTC Sumner 8pm 2hr inc interval
Thurs Oct 10, In Spite of Myself, Nicola Gunn, Fairfax, 6pm
Fri Oct 11  Brief Encounter Athenaeum 8pm 1hr 40*
Sat Oct 12 M & M Theatreworks 7pm
Tues Oct 15 Teenage Riot Fairfax 7.30pm 1hr 10min *
Wed Oct 16 Shadow of the King Malthouse 7.30pm 1hr 30 no interval
Sat Oct 19 Earworms Fed Sq Deakin Edge 2pm 1hr
Sat Oct 19 All That is Wrong Fairfax 7.30pm 55min *
Tues Oct 22  Room of Regret The Rabble 6.30pm 1hr 30min (May not be able to see this one)
Tues Oct 22 Life and Times ep. 1 Playhouse 7pm 3hr 25m *
Wed Oct 23 Life and Times ep. 2 Playhouse  7pm 2hr
Thurs Oct 24 Life and Times ep. 3-4 Playhouse  7pm 2hr 30
 Sat Oct 26 Life and Times Playhouse 2pm10hrs (eps 1-4)
Fri Oct 25 Minsk 2011 Fairfax 8pm 1hr 25
Oct 24&25 All Dolled Up, Festival Hub, 6.30pm

  Brief Encounter by Kneehigh
  Brief Encounter by Kneehigh 
 All That is Wrong

 All That is Wrong

 Teenage Riot

  Teenage Riot

 Minsk 2011
Minsk 2011

Thursday, 19 September 2013

City of Shadows, Sept 21, 2013 ***

City of Shadows–a song cycle of murder and  forensics
By Rachael Dease
Tower Theatre, Malthouse, Sept 21 to Oct 5, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Full review here and in Herald Sun online . KH
Rachael Dease (seated), Brian Kruger, Aaron Wyatt,  Hayley-Jane Ayres, Tristen Parr; Photo by Libby Edwards  

In City of Shadows, the haunting voice of Rachael Dease underscores the haunted faces of victims and perpetrators of murder.

The performance is initially an oddly mesmerising blend of songs written and sung by Dease and set against projected, black and white, forensic photographs from the 1920s to 1940s.

Some of the images of dead bodies are alarming and distressing, portraying the shells of humans looking like abandoned rag dolls with gaping mouths, cavernous cheeks and awkward limbs, or of blood-soaked murder locations.

Other pictures have a strangely calm or soothing quality, perhaps arising from the stillness of the bodies or the pastoral surroundings of their deaths.

Unfortunately, one becomes inured to the violent imagery, and this performance might benefit from a more dramatic, theatrical structure – rather than its concert format – with songs more coherently connected to the imagery or contextualised into a loose narrative.

The Good Girl, Sept 20, 2013 ***

Written by Emilie Collyer 
By Pony.Child, Melbourne Fringe Festival
Upstairs at Errol’s, Fringe Hub, Errol St North Melbourne, Sept 20 to 27, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Full review published  in Herald Sun online Sept 23, 2013. KH
Olivia Monticciolo, James O'Connell. pic.Lachlan Woods

By the year 2050, most of the sex workers in major cities will be robots.

This not-so-bizarre prediction by two New Zealand researchers is the premise of Emilie Collyer’s cute and quirky, sci-fi, black comedy, The Good Girl.

A young woman (Olivia Monticciolo) lives an isolated life working as the manager-madam for a female sex-bot that serves the male population of this futuristic, urban world.

Sex in this unpleasant world is clinical, removed from relationships, manufactured through software programs, and isolated in robot brothels to avoid any spread of disease.

When the designated technician (James O'Connell) services the off-stage sexbot, he and the madam discover that she/it is developing emotions – she cries and pleads with men not to leave her – and that clients will pay big bucks for her ‘humanity’.

They expand her emotional range to jealousy, anger, nagging, and finally fear, the last of which causes an unexpected and violent outcome.

Hard Rubbish, Sept 18, 2013 ****

By Men of Steel
With Strut & Fret and Malthouse Theatre
Beckett Theatre, Malthouse, to Oct 6, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ****
 Review also published in Herald Sun online on Thurs Sept 19, 2013 and later in print. KH

Hamish Fletcher, Tamara Rewse

You won’t view your discarded furniture in the same way after seeing this pile of hard rubbish come to life, just like the abandoned toys in Pixar’s Toy Story. 

In this adorable family show, Hard Rubbish, puppeteers manipulate real, household objects, transforming them into recognisable characters and telling a heroic story about the new furniture challenging the old – and the oldies fight back.

The story is classic goodies versus baddies that sees the comfortable but tatty, old furniture playing safely in their dim, dusty garage until the unexpected and stealthy arrival of the conceited, high-tech, glossy 21st century furnishings with their cool, Nordic creator.

Hard Rubbish, directed with wit and invention by Ian Pidd, is riotously funny, poignant, engaging entertainment that has kids and adults cheering for the pre-loved furniture and booing the soulless, white, flat-pack, chest of drawers that invades their domain.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Beast (is coming in October)

The Beast By Eddie Perfect
Melbourne Theatre Company
Southbank Theatre, Sumner 
October 7 Nov 9,  2013 (previews from Oct 3)
Opening night: Monday 7 October 2013 at 8pm

Director Iain Sinclair; Set Designer Luke Ede; Costume Designer Esther Marie Hayes; Lighting Designer Niklas Pajanti; Sound Designer David Franzke; Dramaturg Chris Mead

Cast Tom Budge (Rob), Travis Cotton (Baird), Virginia Gay (Sue), Sheridan Harbridge (Gen), Hamish Michael (Simon), Kate Mulvany (Marge), Hayden Spencer (The Skipper/Jan/
Farmer Brown/Jason)


La Traviata, Melb Opera, Sept 11, 2013

I can't see this show open next week but wish I could be there. May be able to see it the week after. KH

La Traviata
 Melbourne Opera
Sept 11, 15, 18 and 20 at Athenaeum 
Oct 11 at  Alexander Theatre, Monash

A Kind of Fabulous Hatred, Sept 12, 2013

By Barry Dickins
at 45downstairs, Thurs 12 Sept to 22 Sept 7.30pm  
Directed by Laurence Strangio 

  I can't see this show opening next week but wish I could be there. KH

 Caroline Lee: photo by Daisy Noyes

Lost In Ringwood, Sept 5, 2013 ****

By Barry Dickins, La Mama
La Mama Courthouse , Sept 5 to 22, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
 Review also published in Herald Sun online on Sept 9, 2013 and later in print. KH 

 Carolyn Bock & Helen Hopkins. Photo by Antony Rive

In Barry Dickins’ hilarious play, Lost in Ringwood, the banal collides with the literary and the intellectual meets the idiotic.

Dickins is the gift that keeps giving, with his idiosyncratic style that I call ‘poetic suburbanism’, and Greg Carroll’s inventive direction heightens the grotesque and the gothic, dovetailing pathos with absurdity and a few songs (Faye Bendrups).

A mother and daughter play out their warped, co-dependent relationship that is based on conflict, mutual loathing and despair – and plenty of insults and manipulation.

Helen Hopkins plays the poisonous and conceited Mama, Rose Viper, with a pinched, sneering cruelty and a burning nostalgia for her youth as an actress.

Carolyn Bock balances poignancy with comedy as her unloved daughter, Cynthia (Rose calls her ‘Sin’), shifting from fawning child to insecure romantic hoping for love – and a publisher.