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.
Saturday, 23 August 2014
Rolling Thunder Vietnam, Fri Aug 22, 2014 ****1/2
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.
Johnny’s faithful girlfriend, Sarah, Kimberley Hodgson is in fine voice and
portrays the complex emotions and anti-war views that pervade the home front and
her version of Killing Me Softly is poignant.
Krummenacher and Will Ewing provide melodic backing vocals and supporting
Berthold’s direction is taut and Bryce Hallett’s dialogue is smart and
succinct, allowing the songs and the archival film, images and clever graphic
projections to fill in the blanks of the stories and illuminate the period.
production finds joy and love in the characters’ stories without focusing too
intensely on the horrors of war until the very end when tragedy inevitably
it is the music that conjures the period most effectively with such tunes as Magic
Carpet Ride, Most People I Know, Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower, and Joe
Cocker’s The Letter being woven into the story in the first half.
In Act Two, Run Through The Jungle (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
conjures the jungles of Vietnam, and the unforgettable protest song, War (What
is It Good For), reminds us of the anti-war moratoriums.
We’ve Gotta Get Outa This Place (The Animals)
depicts the sense of desperation of the young soldiers, while Bridge Over
Troubled Water resonates with grief and loss.
the finale of Born To Be Wild brings the audience back to rock and roll,
relieving us of the burden of pain, loss and disenchantment that tainted the
homecoming of those lost boys.
Note: the term, “rolling
thunder” is from Psalm 68: 33.
“There is a Sky Rider, striding the ancient skies.
Listen, he’s calling in thunder, rumbling rolling thunder.”
by Bryce Hallett
Direction: Chong Lim
Carpet Ride Steppenwolf
Son Creedence Clearwater Revival
People I Know Billy Thorpe
Real Thing John Young/Russell Morris
Along The Watchtower Bob Dylan/` Jimi
Letter Joe Cocker
Magic Woman Santana
To Run Martha and the Vandellas
Me Make It Through The Night Gladys
Through The Jungle Creedence Clearwater Revival
What It’s Worth Buffalo Springfield
Get Ready Curtis Mayfield
Together The Youngbloods
Going On Marvin Gaye
It Black The Rolling Stones
Me Softly Roberta Flack
Over Troubled Water Simon & Garfunkel
Wes Carr; Matt Pearce; Tom Oliver; Photo Dylan Evans