Thursday, August 30, 2012

Theatre: Annie

 By Martin Charnin, Charles Strouse and Thomas Meehan
Directed by Karen Johnson Mortimer
Musical director Peter Casey
Set Design by Kenneth Foy
Choreography by Kelly Aykers
Starring Nancye Hayes, Michael Cormick, Todd McKenney, Bert Newton, Chloe Dallimore, Julie Lea Goodwin and Claudia Fitzgerald as Annie
Burswood Theatre
Until August 23

Claudia Fitzgerald
Much depends on whether you’re going to Annie expecting a musical or an entertainment. As the former, it leaves a fair bit to be desired; as the latter, it’s got a lot to recommend it.
In truth, it’s a pretty slight work, missing most of the original Harold Gray cartoon strip’s Dickensian darkness and political sting. It’s not one of Broadway’s great scores either; the two big numbers, Tomorrow and Hard-Knock Life, would start on the bench at best in any of the great musicals, and there’s little else here that isn’t done much better elsewhere.
But Annie’s failings as a musical are hardly the fault of the big, diverse cast of this production, or the work of its creative team.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Theatre: Thrashing Without Looking

Created and performed by Elizabeth Dunn, Lara Thoms, Martyn Coutts, Tristan Meecham and Wiloh S. Weiland
Sound Design by Alan Nguyen
Until August 25

When the boundaries between performing artists and their audience come down, the mix can be unpredictable and a little intimidating.
The assumed contract – you perform, I observe and applaud (or otherwise) – is broken when you are in close contact, and even one-on-one, with the performer. What is my contribution to all this meant to be? Who will now give their approval? Am I to judge myself?

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Monday, August 20, 2012

Theatre: Certified Male

 By Scott Rankin and Glynn Nicholas
Directed by Glynn Nicholas
With David Callan, Cameron Knight, Mike McLeish and Glynn Nicholas
Regal Theatre
Until August 25

In the Peter Sellers movie, Only Two Can Play, he plays a critic who reviews shows he doesn’t attend (so, as it turns out, he can indulge in a spot of womanising). He comes unstuck when the theatre he was supposed to be at burns down.
I thought a little wistfully of my fictional predecessor while I wished I wasn’t at the Regal Theatre as this remarkably unedifying story of four reprehensible men lurched towards its unsurprising and unsatisfying end.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Theatre: The Mousetrap

By Agatha Christie
Directed by Gary Young
Set design by Linda Bewick
With Robert Alexander, Travis Cotton, Linda Cropper, Nicholas Hope, Jacinta John, Gus Murray, Justin Smith and Christy Sullivan
His Majesty’s Theatre
Until August 26, 2012

Christy Sullivan, Justin Smith and Nicholas Hope
For most people of my vintage, and many bottled in much more recent years, Agatha Christie’s wonderful, devious books and their innumerable spin-offs in films and television are part of our psyche. In my case, they run even deeper, having written (along with my friend Dave Warner) and staged a series of murder weekends that unashamedly paid homage to her immortal whodunits.
The Mousetrap is the one pillar of the Temple of Agatha I’d yet to wrap my arms around; this mighty edifice has now ticked over sixty years continuously on the West End, the only play ever to become a permanent tourist attraction.
So I went to review the show feeling like an iceberg waiting for The Titanic to show up. The good news is that the great ship sailed past me unscathed, even if it didn’t melt me much in its passage.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Theatre: The Book of Death

Renegade Productions
Written by Joe Lui and the cast
Directed by Joe Lui
Designed by Sara Chirichilli
Featuring Paul Grabovac, Ella Hetherington and Moana Lutton
Blue Room Theatre
7 – 25 August, 2011
Paul Grabovac, Ella Hetherington and Moanna Lutton
Life as a theatre professional in this town is tough. You’ve got to be adaptable to survive.
The best survivor I know is Joe Lui, the creator, co-writer and composer, director and lighting designer of the The Book of Death at the Blue Room. Even more impressive than his skills and work ethic is that he is always prepared to challenge and confront, often quite brutally.
He’s also a natural collaborator, and he’s gathered some fine and brave artists for this show. Together, they’ve produced a work that, while often uncomfortable and elusive, is constantly thought provoking and committed.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Theatre: The Cat in the Box

by Vivienne Glance
directed by Mark Barford
With James Helm, Summer Williams, Anna Brockway and Kingsley Judd
Blue Room Theatre
31 July – 18 August

James Helm and Summer Williams
Vivienne Glance’s little absurdist thriller The Cat in the Box has its roots very squarely in the 1970s, but that doesn’t make it less entertaining or provocative.
The set-up is familiar territory – four very different people find themselves locked in a room with no way of escape and precious little to survive on. How they survive, and how the political microcosm in the room forms and plays out, is the stuff of the play.
There’s nothing particularly innovative or radical about Glance’s ideas – we’ve seen them before, but they are refreshed by the quality of her writing, which is sharp, funny and rarely portentous.
There’s nothing in The Cat in the Box to change the world, but as an entertainment, and a theatrical undertaking, it has much to recommend it.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: Signs of Life

Tim Winton
Directed by Kate Cherry
Designed by Zoe Atkinson

With Tom E. Lewis, Helen Morse, George Shevstov and Pauline Whyman
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
July 31 – August 18, 2012
George Shevstov and Helen Morse
In Tim Winton’s Signs of Life we are re-introduced to two of the central characters in his 2002 novel, Dirt Music; Georgiana Jutland (Helen Morse), whose escape from dress circle Perth, and then from the boss cocky fisherman she’d taken up with, and Luther Fox (George Shevstov) the craypot poacher and ne’er-do-well she absconds with and for.
The Moore River runs through the play like it does the property. It hasn’t rained for five years, and everything, the riverbed, the olive trees, the birds, the wild dogs and Georgie herself, are dry as bone dust. 
As we anxiously wait for soaking rain right here, right now, in Perth, it’s easy to empathise when a character says “I don’t think it will ever rain. This is it. The end.”

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian