Sunday 31 July 2022

Gone Girls, REVIEW July 28, 2022 ***


Written by Patrick Livesey & Annabel Larcombe

Gasworks Arts Park, until August 6, 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert 

Stars: *** (3)

This review was first published in The Age Arts online on Sunday 31 July and in print on Monday Aug 1 2022. Click this link Gone Girls

Gone Girls-Patrick Livesey, Annabel Larcombe- Image by Jacinta Oaten

Gone Girls is a political satire about the successes, failures and rivalry of Julia Gillard (Patrick Livesey) and Julie Bishop (Annabel Larcombe), two high-achieving, Australian female politicians and, in a fortuitous confluence of events, it opens as the new federal parliament boasts a record number of women representatives.


Gillard and Bishop’s political careers burned brightly for a time then flamed out; Gillard occupied shadow and government ministries and enjoyed a short-lived period as Labor Prime Minister, while Bishop served in Coalition ministries and as Lib Deputy Leader but failed in her bid for the Prime Ministership.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Unsolicited Male REVIEW July 26 2022 ***1/2


Written by Ron Elisha

Produced by Q44 Theatre

At Chapel off Chapel, until August 7, 2022

Stars; ***1/2

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

This review was first published in The Age Arts online on Thur July 28, 2022 and in print on (TBC) Fri July 29, 2022. KH

Russell Fletcher & Kym Valentine- image Jodie Hutchinson

Sexual relationships in the workplace are a potential minefield in the post #MeToo era and Australian playwright Ron Elisha’s 2018 play, Unsolicited Male, dissects gender and power politics and issues of consent by taking a deep dive into a single, messy incident between a male boss and his female employee.


Boss Zeke (Russell Fletcher) is confident in his business role, but feels awkward, weak and unattractive to women in his personal life, while his employee Wendy (Kym Valentine) knows that her power is limited in the workplace but is very aware of her attractiveness to men.

Monday 25 July 2022

Paradise Lost REVIEW Darebin Speakeasy, July 21, 2022 ***1/2


Created by Bloomshed 

At Northcote Town Hall Art Centre until July 30, 2022 

Reviewer: Kate Herbert 

Stars: ***1/2 

This review was first published in The Age Arts in print and online on Monday July 25 2022. Click this link to read at The Age online: Paradise Lost KH

Paradise Lost_James Malcher & Elizabeth Brennan-photo Sarah Walker

Bloomshed’s bastardised and bonkers reimagining of John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost is a literary, political and religious satire with a fair dose of blasphemy.


There is much to recommend in this production, not least of which are the remarkable, floral set design (Nathan Burmeister) and the inspired and hilarious opening that features lighting trickery (John Collopy) and a cast of tiny cherubs. Milton is satirised mercilessly – described dismissively as “a blind, 17th century Protestant poet” – and his celebrated work is stripped down to its narrative essence in this contemporary interpretation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Friday 22 July 2022

Cheer Up Carl, REVIEW La Mama July 20, 2022 ***


By Louis Dickins

At La Mama Courthouse until July 24, 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert 

Stars: ***

This review was first published in The Age Arts online on Friday July 22, 2022 but not in print. Click this link and scroll to the third review.  Cheer Up Carl

Cheer_Up_Carl_ Simon Chandler, Maddie Roberts, Gabriel Egan-Pic Darren_Gill

Think of the most self-absorbed, free-loading, angry, miserable git you have ever known, and you have an image of Carl (Gabriel Egan), the central character in Louis Dickins’ short, comic play Cheer up Carl.


Carl is a relentless visitor to the home of his obliging, considerate brother Peter (Simon Chandler) and Peter’s less tolerant wife Sonia (Maddie Roberts) who he regales with tales of woe about his dog Grover’s death, his drug-trafficking girlfriend’s deportation and his summary dismissal from his role on Neighbours after he attacked the director. Carl now writes bleak, self-indulgent poetry that is totally ignored by everyone except his admiring brother Peter.

Sunday 17 July 2022

The Comedy of Errors REVIEW July 15, 2022 ***


Written by William Shakespeare

By Bell Shakespeare

At Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne until July 23, 2002

Reviewer: Kate Herbert 

Stars: ***

This review was first published in The Age Arts online on Sunday July 17, 2022 and in print on Monday July 18, 2022. Click this link Comedy of Errors to The Age and scroll down to the second review after 9 to 5.

Felix Jozeps (facing front) with cast- image Brett Boardman

Shakespearean comedy collides with hedonistic, 70s disco culture, and classic TV series, Fantasy Island, in Bell Shakespeare’s lively and colourful production of The Comedy of Errors.


The tangled, farcical narrative involves two pairs of identical twins, separated in infancy by a shipwreck, who are mistaken for each other with madcap results. When Antipholus of Syracuse (Skyler Ellis) arrives in Ephesus with his servant, Dromio of Syracuse (Julia Billington), their lives intersect with those of Antipholus of Ephesus (Felix Jozeps) and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus (Ella Prince), leading to dizzying complications, love mismatches, imprisonments and general confusion.

9 to 5 The Musical REVIEW July 14 2022 ****


Music and Lyrics  Dolly Parton; Book by Patricia Resnick 

At State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne until September 18, 2022 

Reviewer: Kate Herbert 

Stars: ****

This review was first published in The Age Arts online on Sunday July 17, 2022, and in print on Monday July 18, 2022. Click this link 9 to 5 the Musical.

9 to 5 -Casey Donovan, Marina Prior, Erin Clare & Ensemble- image David Hooley


9 to 5 The Musical is much like its creator, Dolly Parton: perky, colourful, amiable, singable and fully renovated – and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s almost enough to make you want to visit Dollywood! Almost.


The inimitable Parton is front and centre in the new, updated version of this eminently consumable and frothy production directed by Jeff Calhoun who realised that audiences wanted to see and hear Parton in person – well, pre-recorded, at least. Her beaming smile and broad southern accent feature on the enormous clockface above the stage, from where she provides background to characters and even sings along to 9 to 5 in the finale.


This feel-good show is a workplace revenge comedy with music and lyrics by Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, screenwriter of the original 1980 movie starring Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

Thursday 14 July 2022

Looking For Alibrandi REVIEW July 13 2022 ***1/2


Adapted by Vidya Rajan from book by Melina Marchetta

At Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse until July 31, 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert 

Stars: ***1/2

This review was first published in The Age Arts online on Thur 14 July and in print on Friday 15 July 2022. Click this link  Looking for Alibrandi to read the review in The Age online. K

7. Chanella Macri, Lucia Mastrantone c Jeff Busby

The 17-year-old Josie Alibrandi (Chanella Macri) is a product of Australia 30 years ago – or more. Her story, told today, feelis dated, and unrepresentative of Italo-Australians in 2022 – however, Vidya Rajan’s stage adaptation of Melina Marchetta’s youth fiction novel, Looking For Alibrandi, is buoyant and entertaining.


The production is book-ended by the annual ritual of tomato passata bottling which Josie calls “National Wog Day”. Be warned: only Italians, quips Josie to audience, may use the term “wog”. The play, like the novel, depicts Josie’s experiences during year 12 as a successful, scholarship student at a privileged Catholic girls’ school. Josie’s life is inextricably entwined with her single mother, Christina (Lucia Mastrantone), and her domineering Nonna (Jennifer Vuletic). Her family expands upon the arrival of her long-absent father, Michael Andretti (Ashley Lyons), a successful lawyer.

Sunday 10 July 2022

Jane Eyre REVIEW July 7 2022 **1/2

Adapted by Christine Davey from the novel by Charlotte Brontë

By Skin of our Teeth Productions

At La Mama Courthouse until July 17, 2022

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: **1/2

This review was first published in The Age Arts online on Sunday July 10, then in print on Monday July 11 2022. Click link to read my review of Jane Eyre online at The Age Arts. k

Tess Parker commits to her role as Jane Eyre at La Mama.

Tess Parker as Jane Eyre at La Mama Courthouse. Credit:Darren Gill

Adapting a novel to stage – even a great, dramatic novel – isn’t a guarantee of great drama.


Difficulties can rear their heads: for example when the script, trying to stay “true” to the text, unimaginatively transposes chunks of the original prose on stage as dialogue and narration. Another danger is trying to cram too many episodes and narrative threads into the play.


Christine Davey’s adaptation of Charlotte Brontë‘s classic novel Jane Eyre for the Skin of our Teeth company sees Jane Eyre (Tess Parker) narrate the 130-minute production, delivering extracts of Brontë’s prose directly to audience, even addressing us as “dear reader”.

Tuesday 5 July 2022

The Amateurs REVIEW Red Stitch, July 3 2022 ****


The Amateurs by Jordan Harrison ★★★★ (4) 

At Red Stitch, until July 24, 2022 

Reviewer: Kate Herbert 


This review was first published in The Age Arts online on Monday July 4 and in print on Tuesday July 5 2022.

Click this link The Amateurs and scroll down to the second review. 

Darcy Kent, Emily Goddard in The Amateurs.

Darcy Kent, Emily Goddard in The Amateurs.Credit:Jodie Hutchinson

The Amateurs portrays a troupe of pageant players travelling Europe seeking to outrun the Black Death. But this tragic-comedy sees playwright Jordan Harrison paint multiple layers that echo our recent global pandemic and also the AIDS epidemic and its dreadful toll.

Harrison’s play-within-a-play, deftly and sensitively directed by Susie Dee, seems on the surface to be a cleverly wrought, often hilarious depiction of a motley group of medieval players who hope to impress a duke with their morality play, Noah’s Flood, so that he will take them under his protection thus saving them from certain death by plague.

Sunday 3 July 2022

Passing Strange, MUSICAL REVIEW, June 30, 2022–The Age ***


Meat Market Stables, North Melbourne, until July 10, 2022

Stars: *** (3)

Reviewer: Kate Herbert 

This review was first published in The Age Arts online on Sunday July 3, and then in print on Mon July 4, 2022. 

Read the review in The Age online here: Passing Strange

Grant Young, Gabriela Van Wyk, Tier Ataing, Zahrah Andrews-pic, Angel Leggas

Passing Strange is a peculiar hybrid of rock musical, theatre, rock gig and narrated story that breaches theatrical conventions, even being dubbed an “anti-musical”. Let’s call it a narrated rock musical journey about a middle-class African-American, known simply as Youth (Grant Young), on a quest to find his purpose, art, freedom and identity.

With book and lyrics by US singer-songwiter, Stew, and music by Stew with Heidi Rodewald, multi-award-winning Passing Strange is a partially fictionalised version of Stew’s youth. The Narrator (Augustin Tchantcho) is older Stew commenting with hindsight on his youthful mistakes.