Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Written by Brendan
Cowell, Melbourne Theatre Company Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre
Melbourne, Aug 28 to Oct 4, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:***1/2
Full review also published in Herald Sun online, Fri Aug 29. It will then be in print on Sunday Aug 31. KH
MTC The Sublime: Josh McConville (Dean), Ben O’Toole (Liam), Anna Samson (Amber) Pic JEFF BUSBY
happens in Thailand stays in Thailand – or so the rowdy footy players believe when
they go on their alcohol-fuelled, post-season trip in Brendan Cowell’s play,
star player and all-round-nice-guy, Dean (Josh McConville), accompanies this Rugby League team trip to keep an eye
on his boisterous, rugby-playing, younger brother, Liam (Ben O’Toole).
When Dean foolishly agrees to take ambitious, teenage athlete,
Amber (Anna Samson), and her friend on the trip, he unwittingly triggers a
disastrous series of events, the repercussions of which are far-reaching.
At the centre of the plot is an alarming, sexist culture
that permeates the football codes and this is most evident in the unrestrained,
sexual debauchery and explicit language that may offend some patrons.
What is even more ominous is the pattern of behaviour
that not only covers up sexual assault and violence, but also tolerates it as
boyish high spirits or, even worse, encourages it as a team-bonding activity.
Sublime is a disturbing story that is made more distressing because it begins
in a light, playful and comic style that contrasts starkly with its grim and disquieting
Rolling Thunder Vietnam – Songs That Defined A Generation Written by Bryce Hallett, concept by Scott Barton Friday Aug 22, 2014, at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ****1/2
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Mon Aug 25
and in print thereafter. KH
Kimberley Hodgson; Matt Pearce; Tom Oliver; Will Ewing; Wes Carr; Photo Dylan Evans
Vietnam War and the vehement, anti-war protests that surrounded it inspired a
flood of unforgettable rock songs that defined the politics and culture of the
younger generation during the 1960’s and 70s.
impressive concert drama, Rolling Thunder Vietnam – Songs That Defined a
Generation, threads these classic songs amongst personal stories about Aussie
and US soldiers and their loved ones to create an outstanding depiction of the
band is tight and hot under Chong Lim’s musical direction and the singers are
bold and harmonious, but the added emotional layer of four characters’ diverse
experiences of conscription, war and homecoming makes this show both a musical
and dramatic triumph.
the heart of the narrative is country boy and newly conscripted soldier,
Johnny, played with naive patriotism, courage and warmth by Tom Oliver.
As his digger mate, Andy, Wes Carr is loyal
and tough-minded and the two are living examples of a Vietnamese girl’s quoted
description of Aussies as, “funny, nervous, rugged and kind.”
Pearce is compelling and statuesque as Thomas, Johnny’s pal who was an exchange
student in Australia before becoming a US Marine. Pearce’s singing is powerful
and his depiction of the committed Marine’s disillusionment with his country’s
warmongering is heartbreaking.
Written by Lucy Prebble, by Melbourne Theatre Company, At The Sumner, MTC Southbank
Aug 21 until Sept 20, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:*** This is a short review that is NOT for Herald Sun and will appear only on this blog. KH
play about the use and misuse of anti-depressant medication is timely given that
Australia is now one of the world’s leading users of such drugs.
The Effect, by UK
playwright, Lucy Prebble, peers through a window at the near-disastrous impact
of a new anti-depressant on two participants in a drug trial and the behaviour
of two doctors (William McInnes, Sigrid Thornton) associated with the
two trial guinea pigs are Connie (Zahra Newman), a whip-smart but
annoying, middle class student of psychology and Tristan (Nathaniel Dean), a
young, working class man who wanted some extra cash to travel the world.
two fall for each other and, when the chemical effects of the drug become
confused with the effects of lust and attraction, the trial is compromised as
is the health and well being of the pair.
issues are provocative and compelling but the play is not. Prebble’s dialogue
is so weighed down by research information, that the dialogue becomes didactic,
expository and dull, particularly in the first half.
strips all four characters of any distinctive voice, personality or emotional
and psychological complexity – which is ironic when one considers that
antidepressants are known to flatten mood. The doctors’ characters particularly
Adapted from Emile Zola by Gary Abrahams Dirty Pretty Theatre At Theatre Works, Aug 16 to 30, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **1/2 Full review also published online in Herald Sun on Tues Aug 20, 2014 and later in print. KH
themes in Thérèse Raquin, Émile Zola’s 1867 novel, have much in
common with soap opera – lust, murder and madness.
Abrahams’ stage adaptation tends toward melodrama rather than soap, employing
the histrionic acting style, heightened emotion, realistic set, and even the
vivid, red velvet curtain of 19th century melodramas.
Thérèse (Elizabeth Nabben) is unhappily married to
her cousin, Camille (Paul Blenheim), a whining hypochondriac who is pampered by
his controlling mother, Mme. Raquin (Marta Kaczmarek) who treats Thérèse as
When Camille brings Laurent (Aaron Walton), his self-serving
work colleague and former childhood friend, to the flat, Thérèse and Laurent
begin a torrid love affair that leads them to plot and carry out Camille’s
Thérèse and Laurent lurch from one emotional disaster
to another, leading to their mutual demise – which again resembles a soap opera
The early scenes resemble Chekhov’s naturalistic “scenes
from life”, but the production rapidly and disconcertingly shifts from restraint
to bursts of florid dialogue, the characters lose depth, becoming
two-dimensional, and the acting loses any subtlety.
Music by Jerome
Kern; book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II; based on novel by Edna Ferber By the Production Company
State Theatre, Arts Centre
Melbourne, Aug 16 to 24, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:****
Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Monday Aug 18 and later in print. KH
Showboat - Alinta Chidzey and Gareth Keegan; pic Jeff Busby
Show Boat may have hit the musical theatre stage
in 1927 but it echoes compelling, 21st century issues including racial
intolerance, family breakdown and the desire for fame and a quick buck.
features some of the most memorable and singable tunes by Jerome Kern and Oscar
Hammerstein II, but Show Boat also broke boundaries by successfully weaving
serious themes into a perky, musical theatre spectacle.
The story spans the years of 1887 to 1927 and tracks
the lives of the Hawks family, owners of the Mississippi show boat, Cotton
Blossom, and its performers, stage hands and dock workers.
The vivid, cheerful veneer of this floating
world of melodrama and music hall acts, masks an underbelly of prejudice and doomed love.
This production, directed deftly by Roger
Hodgman, uses a pared down version of Show Boat that effectively narrows the
breadth of the original, expansive show.
The result is a taut, captivating production
with accomplished and versatile leads, a balance of operatic and musical
theatre voices, sassy choreography (Dana Jolly), a nimble orchestra and tight
musical direction (Kellie Dickerson).
Perhaps the most recognisable tune in Show
Boat is Ol’ Man River, made famous by Paul Robeson, and Eddie Muliaumaseali’i,
as Joe, delivers it with his rich, velvety bass and the stevedores’
accompanying harmonies are sublime.
By Finegan Kruckemeyer By Theatre Lovett (Ireland)
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne,
Public shows: Sat 9 Aug & Sun 10 Aug, 11.30am
& 1pm. (Schools shows 5-8 Aug) Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ****
Review also published in Herald Sun online, Aug 7, 2014 and later in print. KH
Louis Lovett pic by Pat Redmond
Engaging an audience of
children in the theatre is a delicate art and Louis Lovett’s solo show, The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly, does it with
style and humour.
Lovett, an award-winning
performer visiting Melbourne from Ireland, populates the stage with eccentric
characters in this bittersweet, adventure tale about Peggy O’Hegarty and her
Peggy and her shrill,
deaf mother and patient father, run a business as packers; they pack small
stuff into bigger stuff, such as putting foxes into boxes.
directed by Lyne Parker, is deceptively simple, but Lovett’s skills are complex
and include vivid storytelling, goofy clowning, bold characterisation, melodic
singing and evoking an elaborate landscape through mime.
One of his exceptional
skills is to effortlessly and imperceptibly draw the children into unexpected
participation so that they automatically fill in the blanks in his dialogue,
remind him to finish the play, call out helpful hints or clap a rhythm for his
dancing without any prompting.