Saturday 29 July 1995

Triptych, by Kate Herbert, REview by Chris Boyd July 29, 1995

Edition 2 SAT 29 JUL 1995, Page 034

TRIPTYCH is not just a whodunit, it is a "who-did-what?"
A woman (Nikki Coghill) brings home a bookshop owner (Sarah Chadwick) to her writer husband (Joseph Spano).
The two women met only that day, but the guest seems to know Mr Wrong rather too well.
Suspicion builds when the bookseller attributes one of the most notorious couplets in English literature to John Dryden instead of Jonathan Swift.
Kate Herbert's plot squirms to a whip-cracking climax, but it falters with brittle characterisation and haphazard dialogue.
Triptych finishes at La Mama tonight.
Keywords:  REVIEW
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Tuesday 25 July 1995

Don Quixote, Victoria State Opera, 25 July 1995


 by Jules Massenet

By Victoria State Opera

At State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, July 25, August 3, 7, 11, 1995

Reviewed by Kate Herbert on 3 Aug 1995 for The Melbourne Times


Jules Massenet's " heroic comedy" (c.1910) has not been performed here before. The Victoria State Opera production directed by Ian Judge incorporates staging as sparse as the beard of our windmill-tilting hero and a strangely spare re-telling of the Cervantes tale of this idealistic "champion of virtue" and his unrequited love.


 Richard Van Allen with his fine, warm baritone, is impressive as the tragic, lovelorn knight, a relic of the Age of Chivalry.  Mezzo, Suzanne Johnston, is both sexy and dulcet as Dulcinea, the seductive queen who taunts Quixote then sends him on a quest to retrieve her necklace from bandits.

Roger Howell was enchanting as Sancho Panza. It is a role which requires a voice equal to that of Quixote but demands a vivid physical and comic presence, all of which Howell manifests with verve and magnetism.


Richard Divall, as ever, conducts the orchestra skilfully, but the score itself seems a little thin and lacking in drama which probably explains its rare productions. Some of the libretto is pretty and poetic but overall the story hurries to its conclusion without really penetrating the drama of the knight's journey.


There was some good chorus work and charming pseudo-Spanish choreography (Lindsay Dolan) but the dance seemed not to be integrated into the whole piece.


I commend the VSO for presenting us with a totally new opera for our stages.




Sunday 2 July 1995

Beauty and the Beast, Princess Theatre, Melbourne, July 2, 1995


 Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, Book by Linda Woolverton.

produced by Jacobsen/Edgley

At Princess Theatre, Melbourne opened July 11, 1995

Reviewed by Kate Herbert on July 2, 1995


Spinning plates are usually circus fare but Beauty and the Beast has a spectacular dinner scene with twirling human crockery, dancing cutlery and exploding giant champagne bottles. The scene, Be My Guest, is pure Ziegfeld Follies.


Now, I'm pretty attached to Jean Cocteau's 30's film version with its subtle black and white images but this Disney production, re-directed by Richard Wherrett, is a knock-out visual treat. Costumes are superbly quirky, (Ann Hould-Ward) the design (Stan Meyer) is classic fairy-tale with spooky forest and enchanted castle. The choreography (Matt West) is classy, and the lighting (Natasha Katz) is transformational. The castle seems to float on air.


Features are the pyrotechnics and the astonishing levitation as Beast transforms into Prince. The set has everything that opens and shuts, including actors who play a singing dressing table, (Gloden Mercer) a teapot (Robin Arthur) a walkin' talkin' clock, (Bert Newton) and a glittering performance by Grant Smith as Lumiere, a foppish candelabra.


Rachael Beck as Belle (the Beauty) has a fine musical voice and a warm presence. Michael Cormick as the Beast balanced perfectly the roughness with the evolving humanity and joyfulness of the Beast. Cormick is a rising star with the voice, face and presence of the Prince he plays.


The score is not a classic, but it has a couple of memorable songs, namely the title tune and Human Again during which all the servants, who are turning into furniture, pine for their humanity.


The lyrics by Tim Rice and Howard Ashman are both romantic and witty. Gaston (Hugh Jackman) the conceited village He-Man has some gems such as, "We'll make a perfect pair/ Just like my thighs", and the Beast's solo love song, If I Can't Love Her, is genuinely moving.


Get a look at this if you like a light musical or your kids loved the movie. It's a great family show.