Saturday, 25 September 2021

Hamlet STC & MTC, Sept 20 1995 *****


NB: I just found this review from 1995. From the vantage point of 2021, I know this was an exceptional  production with an extraordinarily talented cast that included Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Richard Roxburgh, Peter Carroll, and directed by Neil Armfield. This was a treat! KH

 Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Produced by by Sydney Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company

 At Playhouse Theatre until October, 1995

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on around 20 Sep 1995

Stars: 5


Nothing shatters the spirit like grief and Shakespeare's Hamlet is saturated with souls grieving for death, abandonment or betrayal. Richard Roxborough's Hamlet is a copybook study of grief: shock, sadness, disconnection from his body and environment, fear, disbelief, self-doubt followed by unbridled rage.


Roxborough has earned his Sydney Critic's Award for his idiosyncratic, compelling and prismatic characterisation which glints in the light as he turns it. His prince has a subtlety and dynamic range which resonates, shifting easily from underplayed youthful carping and melancholia, through physical incapacitation to cynicism, physical comedy then full-blown anguish. 


How easily we forget the effect of grief on we frail humans. Hamlet loses a father, a lover then a mother. Ophelia her lover then father and Laertes father and sister. Their grief is palpable, almost unbearable to behold. The men turn their aching anguish outward to revenge a wronged loved one. Ophelia turns her pain inward.


There is a delicacy and reality in Neil Armfield's finely tuned, rhythmic production which plays the actors like instruments which weep and wail with torrents of emotion. He gives them their heads, never overstating either comedy or pathos. It is an ensemble piece with many of this exceptional cast playing multiple roles.


Peter Carroll as the donnish "prating old fool", Polonius, almost steals the first half of the play. Geoffrey Rush commendably underplays Horatio, the loyal, ever-watchful eye of objectivity.


 Jacek Koman has a still and regal composure which makes Claudius all the more insidious. Cate Blanchett's mad scene as Ophelia was profoundly distressing yet lyrical. Her pale muddied skin and clothing heightened the fragility of her physical and spiritual self.


The whole piece is served perfectly by the soundscape (Paul Charlier) and the design (Dan Potra) with distressed warehouse walls and cold tiling create a chill, grey, discomfiting palace for this greatest of all tragedies. The tiny shrine lights and flowers on the wall remind us constantly of the dead who will be remembered.



Friday, 27 August 2021

Berlin, MTC Digital 27 August 2021 ****



Written by Joanna Murray-Smith, produced by  Melbourne Theatre Company

MTC Digital Theatre filmed at Southbank Theatre. Available online until 31 December 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert


This review, first published on this blog on 23 April 2021, is a review of the live production of Berlin that was filmed for this digital version. KH

Grace Cummings & Michael Wahr, pic Jeff Busby


Berlin by Joanna Murray-Smith is a two-hander that shifts from seduction to philosophical discussion before taking a turn into complex, social and political issues.

 The play, directed by Iain Sinclair, takes place in Charlotte’s (Grace Cummings) hipster apartment (design, Christine Smith) in an expensive part of Berlin. Having met Tom (Michael Wahr), an Australian tourist, in the bar where she works, she invites him to her home after he tells her he has no accommodation.


Their playful, confident and sensual seduction is a like a game of cat and mouse – or cat and cat – as they tease and entice each other with wine, poetry and half-truths.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Beyond Paradise, Darebin Youth Project, Preview

This immersive work looks interesting so here's a little mention about the project. I love to see good, new work with by about young people. KH

Beyond Paradise

Presented by Pony Cam & Darebin Youth Service as part of Melbourne Fringe 2021

Dates: 1-3rd / 7-9th / 14-16th October Venue: Festival Hub - Trades Hall

Beyond Paradise - Photo by Theresa Hamilton

*The performance is taking over a multi-storey carpark. 

*It is working with 10 teenagers from the Darebin area - in partnership with Darebin Youth Services. 

*It is a participatory and immersive.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

The Production Company Archive 1999-2019


Click here for link: The Production Company Archive  

Jeanne Ken and Rachel. pic by Jim Lee

MEDIA RELEASE 24 August 2021


Two years ago, before our lives changed forever, The Production Company staged

its last production. Ragtime, an Australian premiere, was the company’s final show after twenty-one years of presenting musicals in the State Theatre at Arts Centre Melbourne. Founded by Jeanne Pratt AC in 1998, the company produced sixty-five musicals in more than five hundred performances between 1999 and 2019, selling more than a million tickets, presenting no fewer than ten Australian premieres and creating thousands 
of jobs and major career development for artists and creatives.


How best to remember the unique contribution the company made to the 
vibrant artistic life we all enjoyed in Melbourne?


Today, the company has launched an online archive celebrating the sixty-five musical productions they presented and the people who both created and starred in them.


Chairman Jeanne Pratt AC said, "What a wonderful time we've all had! I hope you enjoy revisiting the many brilliant shows we brought to Arts Centre Melbourne. Until we meet again, this is our way of saying thank you for your support of The Production Company."


The company’s Artistic director Ken Mackenzie-Forbes AM and Executive Director 
Rachel D Taylor are delighted to announce that The Production Company’s 

online archive is now live.


Ken Mackenzie-Forbes said, “We are understandably proud of the unique contribution we made to the musical theatre industry across twenty-one years. This online archive will enable our subscribers, sponsors, artists and creatives to relive the excitement of those years.  This journey through the archives will bring back the joy and delight these memorable productions gave us a

Rachel D Taylor commented, “The online archive is a major resource on the company’s history.  It’s a beautiful reminder of the outstanding job The Production Company did presenting and promoting Australian talent, giving Melbourne audiences the best shows for twenty-one wonderful years.  The website honours our artists, creatives and collaborators with a permanent presence, long after the curtain has fallen. It was a joy

to create and I think it will make people very happy.”



On the HOME page, there is an icon for each musical.

  • Click on an icon and see the original show announcement, the cast and creative team and enjoy a photo gallery of production images.
  • Each musical page also includes a copy of the show program, providing the complete details for that production.
  • Additionally, on the home page there are pull down menus featuring reviews from many shows and a history of the Pratt Prize for Musical Theatre.


Sunday, 15 August 2021

The Wolves, LCT Private Reels ****1/2


Written by Sarah DeLappe, by Lincoln Center Theater (2017)

Lincoln Center Theater Private Reels, Online Broadway on Demand until 15 Aug 2021

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on 15 Aug 2021 (Melbourne, Australia)

Stars: ****1/2

The Wolves


On an indoor, fake turf field, a suburban, American, girls’ soccer team, stretches, exercises, trains, bickers and laughs.


In her play, The Wolves, Sarah DeLappe creates a slice of the life of adolescent girls. In rapid fire dialogue, they interrupt and talk over each other. The team has a volatile group dynamic, and these adolescents shift from childishness to adult behaviour and opinions in the blink of an eye.


As they stretch, they argue about ethics, political correctness, ambition, rivalry and winning – and they reminisce about those half-time orange slices at games in their not-so-distant childhood.


They are learning the rules of the adult world and, in so doing, they interpret, reinterpret and repeat what they have heard, regurgitating political views and social mores that are not yet their own.


They joke, giggle, accuse, reprimand, castigate, confuse and preach. There is very little silence in the world of these teens – until one of their number is injured, then one of their number does not return.


DeLappe’s writing is beautifully observed, multi-layered, passionate and often hilarious, while Lila Neugebauer’s direction is deft and seamless.


The ensemble is a cohesive team, just like the soccer teens are on the field. Each actor portrays a different teenager, ranging from the confident to the timid, the political animal to the politically incorrect, the silent, the voluble, the worldly wise or the sheltered and childlike.


The cast never falters as the team careers through their training and their adolescence until, at the end of the play, they bang up against real and palpable grief and loss that leaves them speechless.


The Wolves is an impassioned cry in the wild from these young women whose lives are not yet fully formed and whose futures hang heavily before them.


By Kate Herbert


Writer -Sarah DeLappe

Director- Lila Neugebauer






Monday, 2 August 2021

The Mermaid (streamed) 2 August 2021 ***


Filmed at La Mama Courthouse on 15 July 2021, streamed on Vimeo

Reviewer: Kate Herbert viewed on 2 August 2021

Stars: ***

This review is published only on this blog. KH

                                                    The Mermaid, Allegra di Lollo- pic Pier Carthew

If you merge Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Little Mermaid with a smattering of myths and sightings of mer-people, then pop them in a blender with lots of teen angst, you come up with The Mermaid.


Directed by Cassandra Fumi, this devised production is a Youth Theatre performance (i.e. performed by young people and created with professionals) that took three years to develop.


The ensemble of nine actors aged from 12 to 19 perform this piece. It is episodic with some scenes that are movement-based, and others that rely on narration delivered on microphone by various cast members.


It opens with one defiant, young, trans actor who, as the host, suggests that we are about to enter the Coney Island Mermaid Parade – Yes, it’s a real thing in the US! Regrettably, we never see the Parade or this host character again.


In a confined set (Dann Barber) that is a giant, tiled, empty swimming pool, a girl (Allegra Di Lallo) – the titular mermaid –lies prone in a pink, plastic, paddling pool that has its own tail fin.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Everyman by National Theatre, 25 July 2021 *****



Adaptation by Carol Ann Duffy

By National Theatre Live. A production from National Theatre

Available until July 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on 25 July 2015

Stars: ***** (5)

This review published only on this blog. KH

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Everyman


The charismatic Chiwetel Ejiofor plays a successful and popular high-flier in Carol Ann Duffy’s re-imagined and modernised Everyman. ‘Ev’ (AKA ‘Everyman’) is a 21st century hedonist living his extravagant life in the fast lane with cocaine, booze, lovers and all the luxury goods he desires.


The original Everyman (The Summoning of Everyman) is a morality play written in the late mediaeval period in England. Duffy’s new adaptation for National Theatre (UK) was performed in 2015 and is streaming as part of National Theatre Live.


Everyman celebrates his 40th birthday with his rowdy, adoring ‘friends’ and plenty of drugs, booze and sex on tap. However, smack in the midst of his partying, Death, played with grim humour by Dermot Crowley, pays Everyman an unexpected and unpleasant visit. Ev must abandon his hedonistic ways and seek out someone to speak in his defence when he makes his ‘Reckoning’ of his life with God, who is portrayed by Kate Duchêne as a wry and disappointed cleaning woman.

Kate Duchêne as God


Rufus Norris’s production gallops at a breakneck pace, echoing Everyman’s frenetic scramble to beg for help from his friends, family, worldly goods, and his pitifully few good deeds. Ev’s fate is sealed already, but relentless Death pursues him like a dog chasing a rabbit, toying with him on the journey.


Ejiofor’s Everyman transitions convincingly from a charming, potent and compelling hedonist to a weeping, sweating, confused shell of his former self, pleading for mercy. His final confession is poignant, gripping and heartfelt, but we all know it is too little and too late.


The versatile ensemble plays multiple roles and is vigorously and inventively choreographed by Javier De Frutos to interpret Ev and his mates’ wild revelry and the chaos that whirls around him on his path to find even a single good deed for his credit column.


Everyman is an inspired production, imaginatively adapted by Duffy, impeccably directed by Norris and with the captivating Chiwetel Ejiofor leading a dazzling ensemble.

by Kate Herbert

Creative Team:

Director- Rufus Norris

Choreography -Javier De Frutos

Set design- Ian MacNeil

Costume -Nicky Gillibrand

Lighting-Paul Anderson

Video -Tal Rosner

Composer/Music -William Lyons



Everyman - Chiwetel Ejiofor,

God/Good Deeds – Kate Duchêne

Death – Dermot Crowley

Father- Phillip Martin Brown

Mother- Sharon D Clarke

Sister- Michelle Butterfly



Sound –Paul Bullion

Passion -Adam Burton

Vanity – Amy Griffiths

Strength – Nick Holder

Smell – Nicholas Karimi

Sensuality– Joshua Lacey

Conscience – Coral Messam

Touch – Nadine Cox

Taste –Itaxi Moreno

Sight – Ira Mandela Siobhan

Discretion– Kiruna Stamell

Insecurity – Clemmie Sviaas



Adam Burton

Amy Griffith

Joshua Lacey

Clemmie Sveaas

Knowledge -Penny Layden

Everyboy – Jeshiaiah Murray

Ensemble -Stephen Aintree


Thursday, 22 July 2021

THEM by Samah Sabawi, touring 2021 + Review of 2019 production

 THEM at Arts Centre   28- 30 July 2021 11am

See my review (below) of original production on 4 June 2019.

Cast & Creative Team of 2021 production:

Written by – Samah Sabawi

Directed by – Bagryana Popov

Sound Design – Elissa Goodrich

Lighting Design – Shane Grant

Set & Costume Design – Lara Week

Piano – Nahad Elrayes

Cast – Taj Aldeeb, Nahed Elrayes, Claudia Greenstone, Adeeb Razzouk, Osamah Sami, Mehran Tajbakhsh



By Samah Sabawi, presented by La Mama Theatre

At La Mama Courthouse, until June 9, 2019 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: ***1/2

THEM Priscilla Doueihy & Abdulrahman Hammoud pic by Justyn Koh 2019  
THEM, Samah Sabawi’s warm, moving play set in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, is a welcome antidote to common images of the Middle East as a region beset with terrorism and violence.

In these troubled times, portrayals of the Middle East and its refugees are often ill-informed at best, and negative, or even hostile, at worst.

Sabawi’s intimate story emphasises her characters’ humanity and vulnerability as they negotiate life-changing decisions of whether to stay or leave their war-torn city and risk their lives to reach a safer place.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Frozen the Musical, REVIEW Melbourne premiere, 14 July 2021 ****


Frozen the Musical

Music & Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez; Book by Jennifer Lee

At Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on 14 July 2021
Stars:**** (4)
This review published only on this blog. KH

Jemma Rix - Photo by Lisa Tomasetti


The excitement was palpable and the atmosphere electric at the glittering opening night of Frozenthe Musical last night on a frosty winter's night in Melbourne. The premiere was postponed for a month while Melbourne laboured through a June lockdown and it marks the first major musical to open in Melbourne since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.


Act One begins with the joyful, prosperous Kingdom of Arendelle and the playful and loving relationship between princesses, Elsa, who has the magical ability to conjure snow, and her adoring, younger sister, Anna.


When Elsa’s spell backfires, striking Anna down, Elsa is compelled to live in isolation within the palace for the next ten years, to avoid harming her sister or any of the townspeople. The over-arching message of Frozen is that love conquers all and, by the end, that particularly applies to the sisters’ love.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

Harry Potter & The Cursed Child, (re-posting) 23 Feb 2019 ****1/2


Story by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany 

Script by Jack Thorne 

At Princess Theatre, Melbourne, closing date TBC   

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ****1/2

I am re-posting my review of the ORIGINAL 2019 production as Cursed Child has, now re-opened. Remember, this is not the current cast.
This review was published only on this blog. KH

Sean Rees-Wemyss & William McKenna 
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a sparkling, visual feast filled with tasty, Hogwarts  treats for the Potter aficionado.

The excitable and very vocal crowd cheers and gasps at the remarkable, jaw-dropping special effects of John Tiffany’s production that combines magical illusion, black theatre puppetry, startling appearances and disappearances, and whirling choreographic scenes - oh, and familiar characters as well as new ones.

Tiffany keeps the action swift and vivacious in Parts One and Two that are an endurance test of over five hours for the audience - but nobody seems to mind.