Friday 31 October 2014

The Pavilion, Oct 31, 2014

By Craig Wright, by Boutique Theatre
Abbotsford Convent, Oct 31 to Nov 6, 2014 
I am not reviewing this show. Excerpt from Media Release below. KH

Cast: Tim Constantine, Katherine Innes and Claire Pearson.

Director: Byron Bache
Producer: Emma Jane Caldwell, co-founder of Boutique Theatre

From Media Release:
 "A bittersweet comedy of lost love and what might have been, Peter returns to his hometown of Pine City, Minnesota and his twenty-year high school reunion with dreams of winning back Kari, the girl he left behind at seventeen after an unexpected pregnancy. Standing in his way is the wedding ring on Kari’s finger, the fact that he still hasn’t grown up, and a narrator hell-bent on telling Peter and Kari’s story her own way. As the night progresses, both Peter and Kari are forced to face the consequences of choices made long ago and face life with newfound strength and bittersweet resolve.

"Hailed by critics as Thornton Wilder’s Our Town for our time, The Pavilion is by turns poetic and comic, romantic and philosophical. Punctuated with hilarious dialogue dredged from the universal experience of high school angst, the characters also find themselves deeply entrenched in the melancholy of “what might have been.”

"American playwright Craig Wright is an Emmy-nominated television writer, known especially for his work on Six Feet Under, Lost and cult hit Dirty Sexy Money."

Thursday 30 October 2014

Dreams from the Second Floor, Nov 26 to Dec 6, 2014

NICA Circus Studio, Green St Prahran; Nov 26 to Dec 6, 2014
Directed by Firenza Guidi

From NICA Media Release:
"Internationally renowned director Firenza Guidi, from NoFit State Circus in Wales, is creating a dynamic live circus experience featuring NICA’s graduating artists. This site-specific performance, titled Dreams from the Second Floor, opens on 26 November and runs until 6 December, at the custom built National Circus Centre in Prahran.

"Audiences can expect a unique encounter. The creative process and technical components will be on display in this site-specific work which engages with the NICA National Circus Centre in an innovative way. There is no back stage - this is a performance which will be fabricated in front of the eyes of the audience!

"Raw, raucous and infectious, Dreams from the Second Floor will explore different types of dreams from those which come to us at night, sometimes so vivid that we can smell and taste and touch, to those which we carry with us through our waking reality. Witness performers weave their way through their own dreams - where things are uncharted and the world is upside down.

"Twenty one multi-talented artists will present high level circus skills on a range of apparatus including: Aerial Ring, Aerial Straps, Contortion, Rope, German Wheel, Hand Balancing, Hula Hoops, Roue Cyr, Dance Trapeze, Tightwire and Tumbling." Oct 30, 2014

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Passion, Nov 5-8, 2014

By Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine
By Life Like Company
Playhouse, Arts Centre, Melbourne; Nov 5 to 8, 2014
I will review this on Nov 5. KH
 Kane Alexander & Silvie Paladino Pic by Ben Fon

Creative Team:
Neil Gooding: Director
Guy Simpson: Musical Direction

Cast includes:
Kane Alexander (Urinetown, Hair, Les Miserables) as Giorgio; 
Silvie Paladino (Chess, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables) in the role of Clara; 
Theresa Borg (Les Miserables, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera) as Fosca
John O’May (The Last Confession, The Phantom of the Opera, A Little Night Music) as Doctor Tambourri.
Troy Sussman
Glaston Toft
Mark Dickinson
Jolyon James
Todd Strike

Silvie Paladino as Clara, Kane Alexander as Georgio, Theresa Borg as Fosca -Photo Matt Deller

From Media Release
Life Like Company is proud to announce a new production of Stephen Sondheim
and James Lapine’s widely acclaimed, Tony Award winning musical PASSION,
playing four nights only at The Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne from 5-8
November, 2014.
The complex landscape of the human heart is the subject of PASSION, a haunting,
intensely emotional musical by the uncompromising creators of Into The Woods and
Sunday In The Park With George.
The original Broadway production of PASSION received 4 TONY Awards including
Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Potted Potter, Oct 28, 2014 REVIEW ****

Potted Potter: The Unauthorised Harry Experience, by Daniel Clarkson & Jefferson Turner 
Playhouse, Arts Centre, Melbourne; Oct 28 to Nov 2, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Oct 28
Stars: **** 
Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Wed Oct 29, 2014 and later in print. KH
Benjamin Stratton and James Percy

Potted Potter is a goofy, impudent parody of all seven Harry Potter books performed in 70 minutes that would make even J.K. Rowling laugh.

The two engaging actors, cheeky Benjamin (Ben) Stratton and geeky James Percy, portray all of Rowling’s characters; well, about 20 of the main ones, anyway.

This family show has no flashy set or lighting, no astounding animatronics, fancy costumes or huge cast of famous actors because Ben spent the entire show budget on a spectacular dragon for book four.

Potted Potter, originally devised and performed by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner and directed by Richard Hurst, mercilessly parodies the story, characters, magic and the sheer length of the series.

Because Ben hasn’t read the books, most of the gags arise from his wildly inaccurate characterisations: Ron Weasley is a rap-talking, Jamaican kid in an orange clown wig, Voldemort wears devil’s horns, Snape has a dodgy French accent, Hagrid wears a Motown afro, and Hermione sports plaits and a crusty baritone.

Thursday 23 October 2014

The Trouble With Harry, Oct 23, 2014 ***

By Lachlan Philpott; MKA 
Northcote Town Hall,  Oct 17 to Nov 9, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Oct 23, 2014
This review will not be for the Herald Sun. I've written only a short review here and have not necessarily covered all elements. KH
 Maude Davey

The Trouble With Harry is a theatrical representation of the startling story of a real woman who passed as a man in early 20th century Sydney and was convicted of murder in 1920.

Lachlan Philpott’s necessarily makes assumptions about the life and interactions of Eugenia Falleni, an Italian immigrant who dressed and lived as a man called Harry Crawford (Maude Davey).

The script balances the lyrical language of the narrators (Dion Mills, Emma Palmer) with the more realistic dialogue between Harry and his wife, Annie Birkett (Caroline Lee), his daughter, Josephine (Elizabeth Nabben) and Annie’s son (Daniel Last).

When The Mountain Changed Its Clothing, Oct 23, 2014 ****

By Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenia 
Concept, direction & music by Heiner Goebbels
Melbourne Festival
State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne; Oct 23 to 26, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Oct 23, 2014
Stars: ****

Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Friday Oct 24. KH

This collaboration between German director, Heiner Goebbels, and the girls’ choir, Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica, produces some inspired collisions of voices, bodies, image and text.

In Goebbels’ production of When The Mountain Changed Its Clothing, these vital, young women explore with energy and joy their burgeoning awareness of youth, ageing and the world around them.

The rich, tuneful and skillfully modulated voices of 30 teenage girls conjure a mesmerising and often thrilling, tonal landscape of harmonies in diverse styles.

Under the artistic direction of Karmina Šilec, the choir employs both the pure tones of classical vocal techniques as well as the raw sound of open throat singing that is common in Eastern European traditional songs.

The girls’ voices are also cunningly used in the form of “call and response”, or in vocal conversations where the choir speaks in one voice as a recalcitrant child enquiring about the meaning of right and wrong, the forbidden and disobedience.

Potted Potter, Coming to Melbourne again, 2014

Below is a link to my review of Potted Potter from Oct 2012. Show is coming to Melbourne again on Oct 27, 2014 at Playhouse, Arts Centre.

Potted Potter, Oct 16, 2012 ****
The Unauthorised Harry Experience
Written by Daniel Clarkson & Jefferson Turner
Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, Oct 16 to 21, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published online for Herald Sun on Oct 18, 2012. KH.
 Gary Trainor & Jesse Britton in Potted Potter in 2012

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Vale Margaret Cameron

I am saddened to receive the news that Margaret Cameron has left us. This message came from La Mama today:

"Vale Margaret Cameron, a beloved member of our La Mama community since 1975.
"Actor of extraordinary talent and daring; creator of ground-breaking new work; a truly independent artist who was an inspiration to us all; also a dedicated teacher, a great collaborator and true team player. A valued friend to many, a loving mother and magnificent cook and home-maker.

" Her memory is treasured. She will be sorely missed."

To celebrate her wonderfully idiosyncratic work and character, I have put links to several of my reviews of her work and part of the review of Opera For a Small Mammal that I reviewed last year.

Opera For A Small Mammal, Dec 4, 2013 ****
Written & performed by Margaret Cameron
Chamber Made & Bell Shakespeare’s Mind’s Eye in association with La Mama
La Mama Theatre, Carlton, Dec 4 to Dec 15, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Margaret Cameron’s performance work is the epitome of eccentricity and defies description – but here goes!

In her solo piece bearing the bizarre title, Opera For A Small Mammal, Cameron introduces herself as Regina Josefine del Mouse, an eloquent, peculiar, mouse-like character who lives in the dusty backstage corners of an opera house like a faded diva.

Cameron is captivating as this elegant, otherworldly creature, with her twitching wobble-headedness, tea-sipping, convoluted word games and absurd, little dances.

Josefine’s shattered persona is both tragic and comical, and her pale tears, absurd distraction and inspired poetic musings are often undercut by puns, wry glances or squeaks as she squeezes little squeakers hidden in her sleeves...continues

So You Think You Can Cow; By Margaret Cameron & David Young
Carlton Courthouse,  March 31 to April 11, 2009
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on March 31, 2009

The Proscenium; Written and performed by Margaret Cameron
Malthouse Theatre
Tower Theatre, Malthouse, Sept 29 to October 9, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Bang! A Critical Fiction! Sept 21, 2000; by Margaret Cameron
at La Mama until October 1, 2000
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

I literally just uploaded this to the blog two days ago.   KH

Monday 20 October 2014

Button, Nov 6-8, 2014

Devised & performed by Carole Patullo & Jane Bayly
Directed by Melanie Beddie
Music by Pete Farnan
Kew Court House, Thurs Nov 6 to Sat Nov 8, 2014 (Preview Nov 5)

There have been some changes and developments of the production and script since that season. I reviewed this sweet show (3 stars) in its first run, May 2013, and you can see that review here:

 Carole Patullo & Jane Bayly in Button

Thursday 16 October 2014

The Mesh, Red Stitch, Oct 17, 2014 **

Written By Elise Hearst, by Red Stitch Actors Theatre (in collaboration with ARTHUR)
At Red Stitch, St. Kilda, Oct 17 to Nov 8, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Oct 17, 2014
Stars: **
Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Tuesday, Oct 21 and possibly  in print. KH 
 L-R: Rosie Lockhart, Tom Dent, Olga Makeeva, Kevin Kiernan-Molloy, Nick Masters; pic Jodie Hutchinson  

There are so many things wrong with the script and production of The Mesh that it is difficult to know where to start.

This ill-conceived production, written by Elise Hearst and directed by Paige Rattray, tries to be metaphorical and allegorical but ends up being confused in style and annoyingly cryptic.

Hearst’s script deals with the experiences of four, post-war, European-Jewish immigrants who anxiously await approval of their Australian citizenship and pass the time by distracting themselves with costume parties, music and flirtation.

This idea has the unrealised potential to be poignant, funny, politically challenging and musically interesting, but the poorly written script has no clear style or intention while the six characters are two-dimensional and do little to illuminate the themes or even their own story.

Rattray’s direction is clunky and not cohesive, leaving the cast floundering in a mish-mash of styles that sees all the actors working in different modes ranging from broad comedy to restrained, underplayed naturalism and melodrama.

Complexity of Belonging, Oct 13, 2014 ***

By Falk Richter & Anouk Van Dijk
Melbourne Festival
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner; Oct 6 to Nov 1, 2014
Produced by Melbourne Festival, Brisbane Festival, Chunky Move & Melbourne Theatre Company
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***
I am not reviewing this show for Herald Sun but I saw it on Oct 13. I've written a short comment about it. KH

The collision of choreography and monologue creates some compelling moments in this piece that features dancers and actors, although the piece in its entirety is not quite cohesive.

The most powerful scenes include Stephen Phillips' ranting monologue about range, confusion and depression while Lauren Langlois tears at him, scrambling over his body, capturing the intensity of his inner turmoil in their duet of anger and despair.

Another strong scene is Langlois'  monologue listing everything that she demands of The Perfect Man. As she itemises cooking, great sex and blue-or-brown eyes, dancer James Vu Anh Pham lifts her, hurls her and challenges her physically, making this a witty and confronting moment.

Monday 13 October 2014

Carrousel des Moutons, Oct 12, 2014 ***1/2

By D'Irque & Fien (Belgium)
Melbourne Festival
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, Oct 10 to 12, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ***1/2 
 I saw this on Oct 12. I am not reviewing it for Herald Sun but here is a short comment. Excuse the brevity. KH
Oh, so charming and funny! This is a sweet and witty children's circus piece from a wonderful Belgian duo.

A man, wearing kiddie's pyjamas, struggles to get to sleep, dragging his blankie and pillow onto a grand piano, played by an unassuming woman.

He slips, slides, tumbles, flies, spins and gapes as the children squeal. "Mummy! He's funny!"

One design trick that makes this a magical show is the grand piano that pivots on a huge supporting strut and rotates and flies through the air. It's exciting and terrifying as the man-child teeters on its edge.

Although the narrative threads came unstuck in the latter half and the show has a few false endings, I loved this show for kids!

Kate Herbert