Thursday, 12 May 2022

Girl from the North Country, INFO, Melbourne from 12 May 2022


Written & directed by Conor McPherson

Music & Lyrics by Bob Dylan

At Comedy Theatre, Melbourne from 12 May to 11 June 2022

Then Canberra in August & Brisbane in September 2022

See website: Girl from the North Country-Melbourne

I'm waiting to find out if I can review a recorded version of the production. Fingers crossed people. KH

Girl From The North Country_Theatre Royal, Sydney_credit-Daniel Boud


Peter Carroll- Mr. Perry

Terence Crawford - Dr Walker

Helen Dallimore - Mrs. Burke

Blake Erickson - Elias Burke

Elizbeth Hay - Katherine Draper

Peter Kowitz - Nick Laine

Lisa McCune  Elizabeth Laine

Christina O’Neill - Mrs. Nielsen

Grant Piro - Reverend Marlowe

James Smith - Gene Laine
Greg Stone -Mr. Burke

Chemon Theys- Marianne Laine

Elijah Williams -Joe Scott

Girl From The North Country_Theatre Royal, Sydney_credit-Daniel Boud
 Band-The Guilty Undertakers

Andrew Ross – Musical Director

Cam (CJ Stranger) Henderson – Acoustic and Slide Guitar

Xani Kolac - Violin & Mandolin

Mark Harris- Double Bass

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Subhumans, La Mama Digital, REVIEW, 10 May 2022 ***


Written by James Hazelden and Nicholas Rasche

Produced by La Mama Theatre & Mystery Radio Theatre

Digital season 4-18 May 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert  This review of digital recorded performance


This review published only on this blog. KH

Subhumans - pic from video

Subhumans is a goofy, pseudo-radio play written by James Hazelden and Nicholas Rasche. It begins with a female, naval Lieutenant who is floating at sea after she escapes from her British submarine during World War II. She makes radio contact with a voice that demands she tell the entire story, doing all the characters voices and sound effects. 

The crew of the submarine HMS Pretty Pink Unicorn (named by the Rear Admiral’s granddaughter), are a motley bunch with assorted British accents ranging from toffy English to Cockney and broad Scots. Also on board is a strangely philosophical, German professor/adviser whose only role seems to explain Germanisms such as that ‘Das Boot’ means ‘boat; not ‘boot’ in English. Idiot!


The crew receive their instructions via a recording played through a replica head resting on a pedestal. The Captain is ‘eccentric’, according to the Commander, or ‘insane’, according to the female Lieutenant. Mostly, he’s weak, whimpering and cowardly. Evidently, he tried to shoot himself in the foot to get out of service, but he missed. Idiot!


On their way to fight the Hun and destroy Hitler’s navy, they confront a giant squid, but their torpedo doesn't fire. The sub’s directional systems and torpedo launcher will not respond. ‘’


When they find a mutilated body in the torpedo tube, their recorded instructions via the head tells them they were carrying a genetically engineered monster is to be fired at Hitler, but it has escaped.


At that point, they proceed to hunt, incompetently and ineffectively, for the creature that is on the loose in the sub. People start exploding – Yes, exploding – and the German professor begins to instruct the remaining crew how to survive – until he too explodes.


It’s all a bit silly, cheesy and predicable, riddled with puns, miscommunications, verbal gags, character stereotypes and racial slurs and British accents all performed in the style of a very old radio play. But it’s a bit of a hoot.

by Kate Herbert 


Directed by James Hazelden

Written by James Hazelden and Nicholas Rasche

Lighting and sound design by Allan Hirons


Frank Handrum as Newman

Sophie Kneebone as Jones

Nicholas Rasche as Smith

Kathryn Tohill as Prescott

Mark Woodward as Untermensch

Chris Tomkins as Collins


Subhumans - pic from video


Monday, 9 May 2022

#No Exemptions, by Angela Buckingham, REVIEW, 6 May 2022 ****


Produced by The Shift Theatre and La Mama Theatre

At La Mama Courthouse, 27 April to 8 May 2022

This review of live stream on 6 May 2022. Digital season to follow.

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ****

 This review published only on this blog. KH

L-R: Endrico Botha, Carolyn Bock, Helen Hopkins, Eva Seymour

#No Exemptions written by Angela Buckingham, represents a dystopian world in which all older people – above what age, we do not know – are being rounded up and transported to their death. Scary concept for anyone over, let’s say, 50?

The purge is being imposed in order to conserve water and food and other resources in a world decimated by man-made disasters such as climate change. The invisible architects of this plan have sent young people to do their dirty work. Their reward is rations of food and water and their continuing survival.


The production is directed with a deft hand by Susie Dee who, with a capable and committed cast of five, captures the intensity, despair and desperation of Buckingham’s script.


The play takes place in and below a housing tower inside which Maria (Helen Hopkins) and her now-mentally unstable former neighbour, Ewa (Carolyn Bock), cower and hide, waiting for Maria’s husband, Paul (Hugh Sexton), to return with food, water and news of a route of escape. Hopeless!


As they hunker down in the cage-like room, their nerves are frayed, their tempers volatile and Ewa’s mind is slipping further from reality. Her need for food and addled mind make her unable to comprehend the danger.


Zach Endrico Botha and Zola Eva Seymour are two young who are part of ‘the System’ that controls all those being hunted like animals. They are victims of the System but their age gives them some hope of staying alive.


It is a bleak scenario that offers no hope of salvation or redemption. Perhaps we need this kind of horror to remind up of the future we are constructing for ourselves and the next generations.


By Kate Herbert

Hugh Sexton, Helen Hopkins


Written by Angela Buckingham

Directed by Susie Dee


Performed by

EWA: Carolyn Bock

ZACH: Endrico Botha

MARIA: Helen Hopkins

PAUL: Hugh Sexton

ZOLA: Eva Seymour

Set and costume design by Sophie Woodward

Lighting design by Gina Gascoigne

Sound design by Ian Moorhead

Stage manager Claire Shepherd

Fight Choreographer Lyndall Grant

Armourer Len Steele

Photography credit Darren Gill

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Trash with a Porpoise, REVIEW, Digital season, 4 May 2022 ***1/2


Produced by Jen Gay & Packed House Productions

La Mama on Screen 4 -18 May, 2022: La Mama on Screen

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ***1/2

This review published only on this blog. KH

Julia Landberg, Joseph Lai in Trash with a  Porpoise- pic from video


Trash with a Porpoise is a children’s comedy puppetry show and the attentive kids are and entertained by the two charming, onstage puppeteers (Joseph Lai and Julia Landberg) and their cheerfully chatty creations constructed from trash.


This 50-minute show, directed with humour by Jhess Knight, has a message about saving our sea life from the massive build-up of non-biodegradable rubbish that our communities dump in the ocean.


The use of recycled trash to create creatures is really clever and the kids respond to the cheery performance style and goofy jokes.


We meet a series of sea creatures (puppets by Jhess Knight and Mads Hillam) that include racing sea slugs, Merf the mer-fish who is looking for a purpose but, instead, meets Heather the Porpoise who speaks in rhymes.


A penguin dies after it swallows a dumped balloon so the puppeteers rewind and replay the entire scene replacing Julia’s birthday balloon with a harmless bubble maker. Meanwhile, Coral the reef is choking to death on trash.


There’s a cowboy Seahorse and a sneaky, disguised puffer fish called Puffy Pete that is cunningly crafted from an umbrella. When the brolly opens, it transforms into a fat puffer fish.


The kids enthusiastically participate and shouting warnings about Puffy Pete: ‘It’s a puffer fish!! They help the Recycling Walrus with the bad jokes by calling out in which rubbish bin each item belongs: Compost, Soft Plastics or Recycling.


Child volunteers play instruments during the final song while the performers sing, ‘Give it a wash in the sink then put it in the bin.’


The performers may have limited vocal ability for such a range of characters, but they are charming, and engaging and their show is fun and carries a clear message. Recycle and don't dump rubbish in the ocean. It kills our sea life.


By Kate Herbert




Directed by Jhess Knight

Puppets by Jhess Knight and Mads Hillam

Performers: Jemima Eva, Joseph Lai and Julia Landberg

Stage Manager & Director’s Assistant: Mads Hillam

Lighting Design : Tom O'Sullivan

Produced by Jen Gay, Packed House Productions

Julia Landberg in Trash with a  Porpoise- pic from video

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

#No Exemptions, PREVIEW, 3 May 2022 (REVIEW COMING after 6 May)

I will review the live streamed performance on or after 6 May.

 Written by Angela Buckingham

At La Mama Courthouse 

27 April to May 2022

Live stream Friday 6 May at 7.30pm


Hugh Sexton, Helen Hopkins

Produced by The Shift Theatre 
Written by Angela Buckingham
Conceived with the assistance of Michaela Maxi Schulz
Directed by Susie Dee
Set and Costume Design by Sophie Woodward
Sound Design by Ian Moorhead
Lighting Design by Gina Gascoigne
Stage Management by Claire Shepherd
Performed by Carolyn Bock, Endrico Botha, Helen Hopkins, Hugh Sexton, Eva Seymour

Helen Hopkins, Eva Seymor, Carolyn Bock, Endrico Botha

Monday, 2 May 2022

The Right Words on the Day, Kevin Summers, DIGITAL, 29 May 2022 ***


Written by Kevin Summers

At La Mama Theatre 27 April to 8 May 2022

Live streamed on Fri 29 April 2022

Book here:

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ***

This review is published only on this blog. KH

 Kirsty Snowden, Kirsty Child, pic from live stream
The Right Words on the Day, by Kevin Summers, explores the fraught experience of an adult daughter preparing her eulogy for her mother’s funeral.


As Judy (Kirsty Snowden) stands at a very formal lectern rehearsing and tinkering with the content of her eulogy, her mother, Kitty Ryan (Kirsty Child), persistently interrupts, correcting Judy’s cheerful and positive recollections of her mother’s past and objecting to any inaccuracies.


Summers used his own family experience, specifically his older sister’s relationship with their mother, as a basis for his script. This provides some authentic and credible detail for Kitty’s life growing up in Richmond in a working-class family, her working life, marriage, friendships and her surprisingly profitable gambling habit.


The eulogy is Summers’ vehicle to explore the dysfunctional relationship between Judy and her mother, Kitty, who is eventually revealed to have been a punishing and controlling matriarch with tyrannical behaviour and racist attitudes.


The truth of this story lends authenticity to the play. However, a real life rarely has a dramatic arc or the coherent dramatic structure required for a play, so it needs to be constructed. Often, the drama may be inherent in a single episode of a life that may be developed into a structure with a strong plot, turning point and revelations.


The Right Words on the Day, directed by Jenny Seedsman, is a linear narrative exposition of Kitty Ryan’s life that has emotional moments and some surprises, but it lacks the clear dramatic conflict, tension and climax to act as the peak of a dramatic arc.


This expository style leaves the production looking static and sounding wordy and informational.


The eulogy needs to be more than a history of Kitty’s life and celebration of her character. It needs to be dramatic.


There is dramatic potential in the fraught relationship between mother and daughter that could be a clearer focus for the play.


Severely cutting Judy’s expository narration about Kitty’s life and focusing more time and dramatic dialogue on a select few episodes from Kitty’s life and the interaction between mother and daughter might create a stronger dramatic structure and illuminate the relationship further.



This is a play that is written with warmth and love, but it needs to take that larger leap from eulogy and to dramatic form.


by Kate Herbert



Written by Kevin Summers

Directed by Jenny Seedsman

Performed by Kirsty Child and Kirsty Snowden

Set design by Jenny Seedsman

Lighting design by Chuck Martin

Sound design by --

Stage manager - Chuck Martin

Photography credit - Peter Cogger

Sunday, 24 April 2022

Dear Ida by Lisa Petty, La Mama, Digital, 24 April, 2022 ***


At La Mama Courthouse, during April 2022 

Virtual season 23 April to 7 May 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert  - review of recorded show

Stars: ***

This review published only on this blog. KH

Cast: Dear Ida- pic from virtual season

Dear Ida is a performance about the positive and often healing role of dance halls and dancing during World War II in Australia, all presented as a collage of verbal and physical stories based on oral histories gathered by the writer and director, Lisa Petty.

The play interweaves scenes and monologues about public and private attitudes and behaviours related to the dance halls, including scenes featuring young women doing their dull, daily chores, excitedly singing popular, wartime tunes, preparing for dances and attending the dance halls.

Scattered amongst the scenes are short monologues from Australians at home, a soldier at the front, an Archbishop, a woman who was an exhibition dancer, edicts from government, news items about shortages, uncontrollable girls or the rise in syphilis, and a moving story from the sister of two soldiers who died at 22.

Characters comment on American servicemen who charmed the women with their jitterbug and other attractions. Girls who fraternised with Americans were abused as ‘trash’. One young woman wanted to accept an American’s proposal but, sadly, her mother disallowed it.

A repeated character speaking between early scenes is Harold, a young soldier who departed from Kyneton for the front, and who begins each monologue with ‘Dear Ida’, followed by his latest letter to his ‘very best friend’ at home, Ida.

There are reports of deaths and men missing in action. One love story and the death of a soldier is represented in a long, emotive dance sequence. This and other non-verbal, movement-based sequences add lyrical moments, but seem out of sync with the scenes and monologues, as if they are from a different piece with a totally different style.

Faye Bendrups (keyboards) and Gary Samolin (drums) provide evocative musical accompaniment
the quality of which often outshines the performances.  Their music, as well as recorded wartime track and songs sung by cast, are highlights.

These include the Lambeth Walk, It’s Only a Paper Moon, (‘It wouldn’t be make-believe if you believe in me’), Now Is the Hour, a mournful tune about a loved one leaving for the war, (My mum used to sing it as a lullaby.), and a finale of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.

The greatest strength of Dear Ida is the truth of the storytelling that comes from real people telling their experience of joy and pain during World War II in Australia and how dance helped them through this terrible period.

by Kate Herbert



Created by Lisa Petty 

Directed by Lisa Petty 

Assistant director Tom Halls 

Performed by Faye Bendrups, Tom Halls, Sally Grage-Moore, Georgia Malaxos, Chanelle Sheehan, Justin Tan, Oliver Tapp and Gary Samolin 

Lighting design by Greg Carroll 

Music director Faye Bendrups 

Stage manager Olivia Walker 

Photography credit Helen Madden, Darren Gills 

Publicity Elise Tebbutt 

Publicity Consultant Marli Kelly 

Media consultant Kayla McCarthy 

Friday, 22 April 2022

Half Steam Ahead! by Con Coutis, April MICF, 21 April 2022 ***1/2


Part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2022

At Butterfly Club from 4 to 20 April 2022 (Season finished)

Reviewer: Kate Herbert This review of recorded show from season

Stars: 3***1/2

 This review published only on this blog. KH

Con Coutis in Half Steam Ahead!
Full Steam Ahead! is Con Coutis’s clever, solo, comedy show that takes the piss out of cruise ships and lots of other topics.


Coutis vividly creates the environment of a cruise ship on which he is the resident stand-up comedian and constructs a loose through line by interspersing short, snappy snatches of a stand-up routine amongst a bunch of quirky sketches and character bits.


This is a cunning way to break up the gags and highlight Coutis’s comic character work, theatrical physicality and sketch technique.


Coutis establishes the cruise by peopling the stage with a parade of demented, shipboard characters –passengers and cruise staff – and creates atmosphere with sound effects and voice overs of other cruise characters and his own inner voice.


He scampers around the small stage, inhabiting various characters, some of whom seem sane, such as the barman, and others that are loonies, including the captain, cruise director and various bogan passengers.


At one point, Coutis replaces himself, Con the comedian, on the cruise ship stage by bringing on another entertaining character, Dr Brian Boswell, ‘one of Australia’s authors’. Coutis plays Boswell as a ponderous, smug pedant who plays with meaning, ambiguity and goofy spoonerisms, and is intermittently creepy and threatening.


We meet more characters, all played cunningly by Coutis, but then the cruise goes horribly wrong. No, it’s not a Covid outbreak (But why would you be working a cruise ship when your health is at risk?), but the attack of a monster being called Karthulu (or something like that!) from another world.


Coutis ends up the hero of the trip when, armed only with his jokes, he saves the cruise, its passengers and crew from certain death by monster.


Half Steam Ahead! is a smart idea that avoids being yet another stand-up show or sketch comedy gig by combining the two forms into an entertaining package.


by Kate Herbert