Sunday 27 March 2022

Midsummer, Fairfield Amphitheatre, (Digital version) March 2022 **

THEATRE (Digital)

Based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

By Sheoak Productions

At Fairfield Amphitheatre 8-14 March 2022. At Bendigo 16-20 March 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert (Review of recorded show.)

Stars: **

 This review published only on this blog. KH


Midsummer is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set in the fitness industry of 1980s in Sydney. Why? You may well ask. Shakespeare’s clowns are shoehorned into the 1980s rather awkwardly and incomprehensibly.


The production is described as Commedia Del ‘Arte, but it lacks the flair, complex clowning and comic business lazzi of La Commedia. One mask maketh not a Commedia show.


The text uses Shakespeare’s words peppered with  contemporary references and slang, a mode which has been known to work. Consider the Australian Shakespeare Company's recent (2022) production of The Comedy of Errors in the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. However, the problems are myriad in this production. The overacting pushes the dialogue and the style veers from the melodramatic to something resembling sketch comedy.


The Duke bounces around in his gym with his PR manager while his wife, Hippolita, with an American accent, is launching a new gym program. Meanwhile, Lysander and Hermius are a male couple and Helena intrudes upon their secret love.


The Mechanicals, wearing masks, check shirts and gym shorts, work hard at their scenes, but seeing these breathless characters laughing a lot at their own slapstick doesn’t make their comic business any funnier.


The production caters for the VCE 2022 Drama Play list and perhaps there is something in it for students to analyse, but its shortcomings are too many to ignore.






Jon Harris-Black
Jacqui Martin
Scott Middleton
Guy Talon
Seon Williams

DIRECTOR: Mandy Ellison
SCRIPT ADAPTATION: Mandy Ellison & Scott Middleton
SET DESIGN ARTIST: Sam Lempio Franklin
SOUND DESIGN: Jon Harris-Black

Yellingbo, review of Virtual season, 27 March 2022 ***


Written by Tee O’Neill

La Mama Theatre virtual season 23 March to 6 April 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert, reviewed 27 March 2022

Stars: ***

This review is published only on this blog. KH

L-R: Fiona Macleod, Jeremy Stanford, pic Darren Gill

Yellingbo, by Tee O’Neill, begins as a simple snapshot of middle-aged couple, Kay (Fiona Macleod) and Danny (Jeremy Stanford), who are trying to have a baby. However, when Danny’s former girlfriend, Cat (Jude Beaumont), arrives unexpectedly, all of their lives are turned upside down.


Coincidentally it seems, both women have the same birth name of Catherine Kelly. However, the reason for this is revealed when Danny is out of the room. The women’s urgent and fraught conversation unravels their shared, secret past and it becomes clear that Danny is married to a fraud – a well-meaning and probably harmless fraud, but a fraud, nonetheless.


Their secret is revealed early in the play, so it is not a huge spoiler to say that Cat (Catherine number one) handed her Australian identity to Kaye (Catherine number two), an Eastern European refugee whose real name is Bushra, who was then able to escape detention. Meanwhile, Cat now has Irish citizenship which allows her only a 12 week visit in Australia and disallows her Medicare coverage for her serious, unnamed illness.

L-R: Jude Beaumont, Fiona Macleod, pic Darren Gill

Kaye is determined to maintain her secret identity and her successful marriage to Danny, but Cat wants her own identity back. Cat thinks of it as a rescue.


O’Neill’s script explores not only the complexity of a love triangle against the background of Australia’s asylum seekers. With the current invasion of Ukraine, Eastern European refugees are a hot topic and the treatment of refugees has become more visible.


The three talented performers, directed by Karen Berger, immerse themselves in the relationships and give the script life, instilling it with dramatic energy and emotion.


However, although the plot has potential for a dramatisation, the dialogue is sometimes awkward, over-wrought or explicatory and the characters and relationships can feel contrived. The complexity of the issue of the politics of refugees becomes entangled in a murky argument about ethics and altruism.


Despite its shortcomings, Yellingbo is a challenging story about refugee politics and complicated love in Australia.


By Kate Herbert



Jude Beaumont - Cat

Fiona Macleod - Kaye/Bushra  

Jeremy Stanford -Danny


Directed by Karen Berger

Lights by Gina Gascoigne

Sound by David Joseph

Production Manager Alan Jager

Stage Manager/Operator Erica Moffat

Publicity Fiona Macleod

L-R: Jeremy Stanford, Jude Beaumont,pic Darren Gill

Friday 25 March 2022

The Fall of the Roman Umpire, Re-posted review of April 4, 2002

Written & Performed by Dennis Coard  

At  La Mama Theatre 3 to 13 March 2022 

NB: This review is of performance April 4 to 14, 2002

 Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Right: Dennis Coard

People's personal histories are endlessly fascinating. Dennis Coard has written his life into a charming and cheeky one hour, one-man show.

Coard's play, The Fall of the Roman Umpire, is a self-narrated journey from his emigration from Ireland to Australia with his family as a child.

The theatre space is demystified at the beginning. He arrives, tumbling down the stairs at La Mama, to turn the stage lights on himself, apologising for being a one-man show.

He plays himself as a pubescent Irish child, pants rolled up to his knees. "Sorry about the legs," he quips. "They run in the family."

. Coard is a consummate comic performer. His characters are delightful and believable and his Irish accent is, of course, flawless.

The family comprises his Da, Joe, his Ma, Thelma, Grandpa and three brothers

Joe is an unreliable, naughty Irishman who treats his children as a captive audience for his jokes and antics. He taught them slapstick at an early age, which explains Coard's own comic skill.

Coard portrays his engaging father pretending to be a fictitious aunty who entertains the boys with hilariously silly magic tricks. 

While father believed in light entertainment to control the boys, mother was less forgiving and more authoritarian.

The transitions between mother, father aunty and grandfather are smooth, making the characters all the more compelling.

The latter part of the show is about the family's time in Adelaide. One very slick and funny scene is performed in mime.

It is a whip through twenty years of Coard's life during which he worked for Telecom, drank too much, had a couple of children and married and divorced twice.

His decision to audition for acting school in Melbourne at the age of 35 was a success. He shows us his audition pieces: an edited Macbeth speech and a poignant monologue by an old digger.

Coard's audition served him well. After his studies at the Victorian College of the Arts, he became a regular on Home and Away. There is life after Telecom - and Ireland.

By Kate Herbert

Image by Adrian Prosen.

Photo of Boy: By Joseph Coard (circa 1956) 

Photo of Man: By Rudi Jass (circa 2020) 

Painting of “Fairsky”: unknown(circa 1960)

Hamilton, Melbourne opening, 24 March 2022 ****1/2


Book, Music & Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

At Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne, until August 2022 at present

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ****1/2

This review published only on this blog. KH

Jason Arrow - Hamilton Australia Cast_credit_Daniel_Boud

The opening night of Hamilton in Melbourne was electric with anticipation about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s much-awarded and hyped, hip-hop musical that renovates and modernises the history of Alexander Hamilton (Jason Arrow), the least-known founding father of America.


Clutches of the invited crowd whooped, cheered and clapped like seals at the entrance of every character in the first 15 minutes. (Were they fans, or did they want us to know that their mates were on stage?)


Miranda’s music, lyrics and book drag those late 18th century Americans rapping and dancing into the 21st century with an eclectic score that capers about from Hip-Hop to Rhythm and Blues, Jazz and musical theatre styles. It is threaded together by rapid rapping, rhyming dialogue that is sometimes so fast that it defeats the ear. Parts of it, particularly Washington’s rap, are reminiscent of Gilbert and Sullivan patter songs.


The life of Hamilton is intertwined with the birth of a nation as America fights and wins, at great human cost, its War of Independence against England and the befuddled King George III. Of course, all of this history is common knowledge and close to the hearts or minds of Americans, but to us in Oz, it is alien; we lack that emotional connection with the American revolution.

Jason Arrow - Hamilton_Australia_credit_Daniel_Boud

Hamilton dragged himself up from his ignominious, illegitimate birth and childhood in the Caribbean, arriving in New York as a penniless immigrant where he became a lawyer, advanced to become George Washington’s right-hand man during the War, then reformed banking in his role as Secretary of the Treasury. He died in a duel with his ‘friend’, Aaron Burr (Lyndon Watts), the newly minted Vice President to Thomas Jefferson (Victory Ndukwe).


Lyndon Watts - Hamilton_Australia_credit_Daniel_Boud


Although Hamilton was intelligent, politically ambitious, eloquent, driven, stubborn, tenacious and instrumental in building the new federal government, he was not considered a pleasant man. His character traits also contributed to his self-destructive flaws.


Arrow is a sturdy and impassioned Hamilton with vocal power and control, and he leads Hamilton’s song, My Shot with fervour. Watts is a gripping presence and shows his exceptional talent as Burr, particularly performing the Jazz-inflected song, The Room Where It Happens, when Burr enviously watches Hamilton and others crafting the Constitution.


The Cabinet Battle is a cleverly wrought, live mic rap competition between Arrow as Hamilton and Ndukwe as the taunting Jefferson.

Brent_Hill_Hamilton_Australia_credit_Daniel Boud
Almost stealing the show is the inimitable Brent Ashley Hill as the wild, demented King George III singing with quirky, snide and toffy tones, You'll Be Back, What Comes Next and I Know Him.


Hamilton has an outstandingly talented and versatile cast that delivers with alacrity this complex musical and its compelling characters, rhythms, rhymes and choreography.


Melbourne is back on form with musicals hitting the stage post-Covid, and Hamilton is the show to see.


by Kate Herbert 




Jason Arrow – Hamilton

Lindon Watts – Aaron Burr

Chloé Zuel– Eliza Hamilton (played by Tigist Strode on opening night)

Akina EdmondsAngelica Schuyler

Matu Ngaropo – George Washington

Victory Ndukwe – Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson

Shaka Cook – Hercules Mulligan/James Madison

Marty Alix – John Laurens/Philip Hamilton

Elandrah Eramiha– Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds

Brent Ashley Hill – King George III



Lin-Manuel Miranda Book, Music and Lyrics

Thomas Kail Director

Andy Blankenbuehler Choreographer

Alex Lacamoire Music Supervision / Orchestrations

Ron Chernow Author of the book "Alexander Hamilton"

David Korins Scenic Design

Paul Tazewell Costume Design

Howell Binkley Lighting Design

Nevin Steinberg Sound Design

Charles G. Lapointe Hair & Wig Design

Patrick Vassel Associate and Supervising Director

Michael Balderrama  Associate Supervising Choreographer

Kurt Crowley Associate Music Supervisor

Rod Lemmond US Associate Scenic Designer

Angela Kahler Associate Costume Designer

Ryan O’Gara Associate Lighting Designer

Jason Crystal Associate Sound Designer

J. Philip Bassett Production Supervisor

Dean Drieberg Resident Director

Brendan Yeates Resident Dance Supervisor

Laura Tipokim Music Director / Conductor

Richard Martin Technical Director

Lauren Wiley Casting Director

Jude Loxley Australian Costume Associate

Hugh Hamilton Australian Associate Lighting Designer

Michael Waters Australian Associate Sound Designer

Kylie Clarke Australian Hair & Wig Associate

Jeffrey Seller Producer

Sander Jacobs Producer

Jill Furman Producer

The Public Theater Producer

Maggie Brohn Executive Producer

Michael Cassel Executive Producer & General Management


Song List

Act I

1. Alexander Hamilton

2. Aaron Burr, Sir

3. My Shot

4. The Story Of Tonight

5. The Schuyler Sisters

6. Farmer Refuted

7. You'll Be Back George III

8. Right Hand Man

9. A Winter's Ball

10. Helpless

11. Satisfied

12. The Story of Tonight (Reprise)

13. Wait For It

14. Stay Alive

15. Ten Duel Commandments

16. Meet Me Inside

17. That Would Be Enough

18. Guns and Ships

19. History Has Its Eyes On You

20. Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)

21. What Comes Next George III

22. Dear Theodosia

23. Non-Stop

Act II

1. What'd I Miss

2. Cabinet Battle #1

3. Take A Break

4. Say No To This

5. The Room Where It Happens

6. Schuyler Defeated

7. Cabinet Battle #2

8. Washington On Your Side

9. One Last Time

10. I Know Him George III

11. The Adams Administration

12. We Know

13. Hurricane

14. The Reynolds Pamphlet George III jeers but no singing

15. Burn

16. Blow Us All Away

17. Stay Alive (Reprise)

18. It's Quiet Uptown

19. Election of 1800

20. Your Obedient Servant

21. Best of Wives and Best of Women

22. The World Was Wide Enough

23. Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story



Wednesday 16 March 2022

A Midsummer Mechanical's Dream–ASC, Live Stream-11 March 2022 ****



By Australian Shakespeare Company

At Botanical Gardens, Melbourne, until Sat 12 March 2022 

Live stream link available until 18 March

This review is of the live stream recording of the show on 11 March 2022

Anthony Rive, Scott Jackson, Andrew Bongiorno, Kevin Hopkins, Hugh Sexton, Madeleine Somers. Photo, Ben Fon


This cheeky summer production in the Botanical Gardens is a big old hoot that takes the goofy Mechanicals/clowns from a Midsummer Night’s Dream and hurls them headlong into their own, idiosyncratic interpretations of Shakespeare’s major plays.


This is a delightfully entertaining and often hilarious romp that features the clownish Mechanicals slaughtering the tragedies written by Snug’s (Madeleine Somers) Uncle Bill, ‘the Upstart Crow’ Shakespeare.


First, they indulge in a series of actors’ warm ups including ‘Breathe through the anus’ and make your face into an elephant’s bum!’, all led by Peter Quince AKA Kevin Hopkins sporting a form-fitting, lycra jump suit.


The highlight is their side-splitting Scottish Play. Macbeth and Banquo arrive on wooden horses and wearing kilts. Banquo’s plastic kilt is cheekily backless and bumless, bringing new meaning to the name “Bottom. This Macbeth features more Scottish tartan and bagpipes than the Edinburgh Tattoo.


They abandon Macbeth because it is too bloody and switch to all of the Henrys and a couple of Richards. i.e. in a quick whip round the entire War of the Roses in doggerel rhymes.


Next is Hamlet the Masterchef of Denmark whose ghostly, sheet-sheathed father speaks via a talking sandwich maker. Now, that’s funny! There are oodles of cheesy rhymes and foodie puns. In the final sword fight, Laertes rhymes with “hurties’.


After interval and a quick pee, they return with a boot scootin’ routine followed by Romeo and Juliet in interpretive dance and a Hip Hop (sort of) version of King Lear. They torture the opera, Othello, in four minutes and do Antony and Cleopatra, the Musical with lots of dancing like an Egyptian.


But finally, they receive a missive that the Duke and Duchess prefer Pyramus and Thisbe ‘cos it’s (unwittingly) hilarious.


This is a riot of a show that has some pant-wetting moments, particularly in the Macbeth. Look for the live link on the website to view the show online until 18 March.

By Kate Herbert


Cast members. Photo - Ben Fon

DIRECTOR – Glenn Elston 




SNUG THE JOINER Madeleine Somers






Cast members. Photo - Ben Fon

Antony Rive. Photo, Ben Fon.