Saturday 27 June 2015

Redemption, June 27, 2015

By Anthony Crowley
La Mama at the Courthouse, from Sat June 27 to July 5, 2015
I am not reviewing this show but it looks good. KH

Directed by Petra Kalive
Cast: Malcolm Robinson & Case Scott-Corless

From Media Release
'REDEMPTION is a new play by Anthony Crowley being presented as part of La Mama’s Winter 2015 season at the La Mama Courthouse in Carlton.
'The play asks whether the power of forgiveness and redemption in the Catholic Church might allow a history of sexual abuse to continue.
'One night in a remote Catholic parish in rural Australia. Ben arrives at the home of Terry – his life-long mentor and a close friend of a retired Monsignor accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy, thirty years ago. Ben has been sent to investigate the allegation. Terry is a formidable force, determined to muddy the waters and restore Ben’s dwindling faith in the Church. Moment by moment the mystery binding these two men unravels, its horrible truth challenging the fabric of the Catholic Church.

The Barber of Seville, June 25, 2015

by Goachino Antonio Rossini; Melbourne Opera
25 & 27 June & 3 July, 2015  Athenaeum; 10 July, 2015  at Alexander Theatre, Monash
 I am not reviewing this opera. KH 

  From Media Release:
'Melbourne Opera is proud to present a restaging of their highly successful production of The Barber Of Seville, Rossini’s hilarious and widely popular opera.

'Considered the most popular comic opera of all time, The Barber of Seville remains one of the most performed operas in the world.

'Hugh Halliday returns to direct the production after directing two productions for Opera Australia.

 ' “The Barber of Seville is fast action, it doesn’t stand still for more than five seconds. It’s a farce, a real situational comedy – perhaps one of the world’s first sit-coms!” says Hugh.

'The Barber Of Seville tells the tales of an overprotective guardian outwitted by his daughters love with the help from the conniving barber Figaro. First performed in 1818, it was one of the first opera buffas, or comic operas. It is loosely based on a play by French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais.

'Hugh and Melbourne Opera have once again assembled a wonderfully high calibre cast to perform this deliciously fun opera.

' “I’ve been lucky enough to assemble a cast of some of Australia’s finest singers who also happen to be extremely well versed in comedy, with impeccable timing.”

'The cast is led by mezzo-soprano, Sally-Anne Russell, one of Australia’s most versatile and popular artists.

 ' “There is only one way to describe this production: it’s high camp, high fun, high notes and lots of laughs!” says Sally-Anne.

'Sally-Anne has performed in 15 different countries as well as with Opera Australia, all the state opera companies and all Australia’s major orchestras. She is also an ABC Classic FM recording artist, and appears regularly on radio.

'The Barber Of Seville will also feature Baritone Phillip Calcagno as Figaro the artful Barber; Herald Sun Aria winner, Brenton Spiteri, as Count Almaviva; and Roger Howell or Ian Cousins as the overprotective guardian, Don Bartolo. David Gould reprises his role as the scheming Don Basilo and Jodie Debono stars as the maid, Berta.

'Conducting duties are shared between Greg Hocking and MO Head of Music Raymond Lawrence.

' "Barber is a constant delight for all involved, the orchestra has as much fun with Rossini's witty and inventive music as the cast on stage. We always look forward greatly to performing this masterpiece,” says Greg.

'The Barber of Seville follows Melbourne Opera’s acclaimed premiere production of the rare German opera Der Freischütz in March, and precedes a new production of Gaetano Donizetti’s tragic opera Maria Stuarda in September.
 From Media Release

SHIT! NEON MTC June 26, 2015

SHIT! by Patricia Cornelius, NEON MTC
At MTC Southbank Theatre, The Lawler
From June 26 to July 5, 2015
 I have not yet seen this show but it is at the top of my list. I was not reviewing it for Herald Sun. Dee and Cornelius are two of my favourite theatre makers. See it! KH

Cast: Peta Brady, Sarah Ward, Nicci Wilks

Director Susie Dee
Set and Costume Designer: Marg Horwell
Lighting Designer: Rachel Burke
Sound Designer: Anna Liebzeit
Production/Stage Manager: Bec Moore
Producer: Ebony Bott

From Media Release MTC NEON

'Long-time collaborators Susie Dee and Patricia Cornelius present SHIT, a new play about women and girls who defy gender demarcations and transgress the boundaries and restraints of social order and expectation.

'When a girl spits, or swears, or screams, or shouts, or pulls down her pants to ‘moon’ someone from a car, or she laughs too loudly, or she’s too shrill, or she pulls up her t-shirt and flashes her tits, or she fights, really fights, head butts and with her fists, or she fucks too much or cuts her hair too short, and wears too much lipstick or none at all, or tells everyone she’s got a dick and she’s not a girl at all, all we want to do with this girl is lock her up and throw away the key. Out of control girls, angry, nasty girls are a sight to behold. They’re terrifying, electrifying, they’re everything girls shouldn’t be, and we hate them.

'This is a work about these girls. Their names are Billy, Bobby and Sam. There’s not a single moment when the three young women transcend their ugliness. There’s no indication of a better, or in fact any, inner life.

'Dee and Cornelius said, ‘A team of ten female theatre makers have come together to create a work about women that are rarely seen on the stage. We want to empower these women with a vitality and drive and allow them the chance to come back at a world which despises them.’

'Susie Dee and Patricia Cornelius have made work together for about 30 years.

'Susie has directed Patricia’s plays: Max, Taxi, The Berry Man and Savages. They first worked together as actors in Cornelius’ Lilly and May which toured nationally and overseas. They both come from a very visceral and physical approach to a theatre which is equally rigorous and vital in the language it uses and in what it has to say about the world.

'This production contains powerfully offensive language.'

from Media Release MTC NEON

Friday 26 June 2015

Upcoming shows June-July 2015

The following are some upcoming shows in June-July that I may or may not be reviewing. :-) KH


25 & 27 June & 3 July, Barber of Seville, Melb Opera Athenaeum; 10 July, Alexander Theatre, Monash

Sat June 27, Redemption, Courthouse

Tues June 30 Pluck Butterfly Club 

Tues June 30 to July 4 More Female Parts, Fairfax

Thur July 2 Saltwater  & Letters Home (Singapore company) Theatre Works

Thurs July 2,  I Puritani Vic Opera, Hamer Hall

July 7-10 Melb Festival of Puppetry La Mama

Thurs July 9 Cuckoo, 45downstairs, to July 26

Sat July 11  West Side Story, State Theatre, Prod Co

Sat 11 July The Listies, Darebin Arts Centre

 July 15 Hamlet, Bell Shakespeare, Fairfax

Wed July 15 L’Amante Anglaise, La Mama

Fri July 17 Dead Centre & Sea Wall, Red Stitch 
Sat July 18 Sweeney Todd, Playhouse, Vic Opera

Tues July 21 I Am Miracle, Malthouse

Sunday 21 June 2015

More Female Parts, Feb 8, 2014 ***1/2 (Re-posted)

This 2014 review was originally posted on Sunday, 9 February 2014. KH

Written by Sara Hardy 
Based on characters from Dario Fo & Franca Rame's Female Parts  
Darebin Arts Speakeasy 2014 
Northcote Town Hall, until Feb 23, 2014 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars:  ***1/2
Review also published  in Herald Sun online on Mon Feb 10 and in print on Tues Feb 11. KH 
Evelyn Krape on stage in More Female Parts

It is a joy and a privilege to watch Evelyn Krape on stage in More Female Parts, performing updated, rebooted and aged versions of characters that she originally performed in the 80s.
Local playwright, Sara Hardy’s script delivers three, new monologues based on Female Parts written by Italian playwrights, Franca Rame and Dario Fo, in 1977.
Can’t Sleep, Can’t Sleep showcases Krape’s entertainingly idiosyncratic clown style as a rattled, 60-something grandmother who becomes increasingly frantic hunting for lost keys and preparing chaotically for a job interview after decades of unemployment.
This piece is based on Fo and Rame’s original monologue about a frenetic, young mum, but Hardy’s piece is a satirical, political biting commentary on the shrinking workplace for older Australians, the chauvinism of employers and their obsession with youth. Sigh! 
The second piece, Penthouse Woman 2044, is comical but grimmer, as Krape portrays a woman incarcerated by her absent husband in her plush apartment where she communicates through a talking computer while her husband keeps her under 24 hour surveillance.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Love and Information, June 16, 2015

By Caryl Churchill, Malthouse Theatrefrom June 16, 2015
As I am not reviewing this show for Herald Sun, I am taking a rain-check tonight and seeing it at a later date, I hope. KH
Photos by Pia Johnston

Direction / Kip Williams
Set and Costume Design / David Fleischer
Lighting Design / Paul Jackson
Sound Design and Composition / THE SWEATS
Dramaturgy / Mark Pritchard
Cast / Marco Chiappi, Harry Greenwood,
Glenn Hazeldine, Anita Hegh, Zahra Newman,
Anthony Taufa, Alison Whyte, Ursula Yovich

Friday 12 June 2015

The Rocky Horror Show, June 14, 2015 ****

 Music, lyrics & book by Richard O’Brien
Produced by produced by Howard Panter (Ambassador Theatre Group) and John Frost (Gordon Frost Organisation)
Where & When: Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, to July 12 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars:  ****
Show opened  on Sunday June 14, 2015

All pics taken by Joe Calleri at the Media Call today, Friday June 12, at The Comedy Theatre. KH

The Rocky Horror Show is back to rock and shock Melbourne again and Craig McLachlan is still shamelessly hamming it up as the ‘sweet transvestite’ alien, Frank N Furter, sporting corset and fishnet stockings while teetering on high heels.

McLachlan is audacious and ostentatiously camp as Frank, the provocative, strutting, beefcake, drag queen with a multitude of seductive, sexual peccadilloes.

He taunts his adoring audience with outrageous, mock depravity, comic ad-libbing and risqué innuendo, meanwhile seducing his hapless house guests, Brad and Janet (Amy Lehpamer, Stephen Mahy) with decadent parties and dissolute excesses.

The sexual antics become a bit adolescent at times and begin to pall after the first act.

In the 1970s, Richard O’Brien, who single-handedly wrote music, lyrics and book, blended trashy drag shows with 1950s B Grade movies to produce this unforgettable and originally controversial rock musical.

The crowd pulsates and sings along to favourite dance tunes, Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite, and a repertoire of hits that includes: the 50s-style Science Fiction/Double Feature, the anthemic tune, Over At The Frankenstein Place, the impudent Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me, and Damn It, Janet.

The crowd pulsates and sings along to favourite dance tunes, Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite, and a repertoire of hits that includes: the 50s-style Science Fiction/Double Feature, the anthemic tune, Over At The Frankenstein Place, the impudent Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me, and Damn It, Janet.

Birdland, MTC, June 11, 2015 **1/2

Written by Simon Stephens, by Melbourne Theatre Company 
MTC Southbank Theatre, The Sumner, until July 11, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: **1/2
Review also online in Herald Sun today, Fri June 12, 2015. Later in print. KH
This production of Simon Stephens’ play, Birdland, echoes the chaos of its lead character’s rock star lifestyle but the stylistic chaos of the production causes a simultaneous loss of dramatic control of the play.

Paul (Mark Leonard Winter) is on the final week of his band’s 15-month, sold-out world tour, but fame, wealth and his perpetual life on the road and living in hotel suites leave him arrogant, deluded and emotionally disconnected.

He treats his friends, family, colleagues and strangers with utter contempt and his self-indulgence and heartlessness lead indirectly to the suicide of Marnie (Anna Samson), girlfriend of his long-time pal and fellow band-member, Johnny (Socratis Otto).

Paul is a thoroughly repellant, irredeemable narcissist, a bully, a liar, a substance abuser and also a people abuser.

Stephens’ writing has a harsh, brittle quality and it shines an unflattering light on not only Paul but also on the flawed characters that flutter around him.

Paul’s chickens eventually come home to roost in an unexpected, final turn of events that make an unsatisfying and glib ending to the play.

Stephens’ script cries out for a firm directorial hand but Leticia Cáceres’ production favours style over content so any deeper meaning or character development are swamped by shambolic staging, scattered set design, poor sightlines, food fights and general messiness and lack of focus.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

North By North West, June 4, 2015

Adapted by Carole Burns, by MTC
Arts Centre, Playhouse, from June 4, 2015

I have not seen this yet but am looking forward to it ASAP. KH

From Here to Maternity, June 10, 2015 **1/2

By Mikhaela Bourke and Lana Meltzer, co-writer Elise Hearst
Theatre Works from June 10 to 14, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: **1/2
Review also in Herald Sun in print and online on Fri June 12. 2015.  KH
 Lana Meltzer & Mikhaela Bourke

Mums and their bubs provide great mileage for light drama or sketch comedy because so many people recognise the chaos, exhaustion, obsession and hilarity of early parenting.

From Here to Maternity, created and performed by Mikhaela Bourke and Lana Meltzer with additional writing by Elise Hearst, is a series of short, comic and dramatic scenes ranging from heartfelt monologues to satirical sketches.

This is Identification Theatre that reflects the experiences of not only newly minted parents, but also anyone who has had babies, knows people with babies, or sat in a cafe near mothers with cute or crying babies.

Both performers are warm and engaging and some sketches really tickle the audience, but Eli Erez’s production looks and sounds like a university revue and the quality of direction, performance and writing is equally uneven.

Strangely, the unpolished style sometimes adds to the enjoyment of the vignettes such as in the dialogue where two new mums – a competitive boaster (Meltzer) and her harried friend (Bourke) – compare their babies’ development. Guess whose baby is perfect in every way!

Wednesday 3 June 2015

The Rocky Horror Show, April 26, 2014 ****

See below my review of Rocky Horror from April 2014. KH

Music, lyrics & book by Richard O’Brien
Produced by Ambassador Theatre Group and Gordon Frost Organisation
Comedy Theatre from April 26 to July 13, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

A version of this review was also be in print in Herald Sun on Sunday 27 April and online on Sat April 26 at 10pm. KH
 Christie Whelan Browne, Tim Maddren, Craig McLachlan (photo Jeff Busby) 

Craig McLachlan is “just a sweet transvestite” and he’s strutting his demented stuff on stage at the Comedy Theatre to the wicked delight of The Rocky Horror Show opening night crowd.
The audience glitterati included movie megastar, Pierce Brosnan, who is in town with his new film, The Moon and The Sun.

An audacious McLachlan, garbed in corset, fishnets and stilettos, reprises the role of Dr. Frank N Furter, the twisted “tranny” whose gothic mansion and perverted pastimes created a sensation in London in 1973 then in Australia in 1974.
McLachlan is deliciously, flamboyantly camp as Frank, playing an unforgettable, swaggering, muscular, drag queen with oddly seductive sexual peccadilloes.
He teases the audience with his outrageous, mock depravity, risqué sexual innuendo and comic ad libbing as he leads a daring cast of Frank’s dissolute pals through a series of decadent parties and wanton excesses.
When he created the show in the 1970s, Richard O’Brien, the sole writer of the music, lyrics and book, tossed a trashy drag show into a particle collider with classic 1950s, B Grade sci-fi and horror movies to produce this idiosyncratic and trangressive rock musical.
Christie Whelan Browne embodies the sweetly innocent Janet then fearlessly takes her character on a rollercoaster ride into debauchery, while Tim Maddren as Janet’s clean-cut, naive fiancé, Brad, tumbles headlong under the corrupting influence of Frank N Furter.

Erika Heynatz is a luscious and lusty Magenta, Frank’s hedonistic housekeeper, Ashlea Pyke is perky as shrill, colourful groupie, Columbia, Brendan Irving is suitably buff and dim-witted as Frank’s gorgeous creation, Rocky, and Tony Farrell is a dignified Narrator.