Monday, October 29, 2012

Theatre: Ghosts

By Henrik Ibsen
Class Act Theatre
Directed by Stephen Lee
Performed by Whitney Richards, David Meadows, Graham Mitchell, Angelique Malcolm and Andrew Southern
Subiaco Arts Centre Studio
Until November 3

Who’s afraid of Henrik Ibsen? All that Lutheran hand-wringing. All that rain.
Certainly the audiences that trampled over each other to see Greta Scacchi in Aarne Neeme’s 1991 production of A Doll’s House overcame their qualms, and this production of Ibsen’s Ghosts, in the same building, deserves an audience as well.
Not that it quite justifies trampling; this is a modestly staged production, given a workmanlike rather than inspired treatment by director Stephen Lee, but there’s enough quality on show to make for a worthy evening’s entertainment.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Theatre: Eve

The Nest Ensemble
Devised by Margi Brown Ash, Leah Mercer and Daniel Evans
Written and performed by Margi Brown Ash, with Phil Miolin and Roland Adeney
Directed by Leah Mercer
Until November 10

Margi Brown Ash (pic Leigh Brennan)
The starting point for Margi Brown Ash’s tour de force of stage writing and performance is the sad story of Eve Langley, a little-known and largely forgotten novelist and poet who worked from the 1930s until her lonely death in a little shack outside Katoomba, NSW, in 1974.
This is no mere biographical drama, though. Ash combines some of Langley’s writing with those of her self-appointed literary Siamese twins, Flaubert, Dickinson, Keats, Shakespeare and, especially, her beloved Oscar Wilde, in a poetic, combustible interior monologue of reminiscence, longing and heartache. Her own writing fits seamlessly into that high company. It’s thrilling, gorgeously imaginative and physically potent.
I recall, years ago, jumping straight to my feet to applaud Peter Carroll and Ron Blair’s The Christian Brother. I did it again, for many of the same reasons, for Margi Brown Ash and Eve.
Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Theatre: The Awesome Festival

Tom Flanagan
The Awesome Spiegeltent
Until October 19

Catch the Rain
Ellis and Céire Pearson
The Bird Hide
Until October 15

Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and his Singing Tiger
Phil Burger and Stuart Bowden
The Awesome Spiegeltent
Until October 15

The Awesome Festival in the Perth Cultural Centre is an eye-opening and exhilarating experience for a far-too-grown-up geezer like me.
I took in Spare Parts’ tender, expressive Hachiko and Yirra Yaakin’s Promethean Noongar fable Kaarla Kaatijin (link here and here to their reviews in The West) before seeing the South African father-daughter team of Ellis and Céire Pearson’s Catch the Rain, a parched morality tale of water, drought and corporate greed.

Tom Flanagan is a hugely talented physical performer, and his Kaput, in the Spiegeltent (now there’s a piece of arts infrastructure that’s paying off in spades), is a hilarious adventure in misadventure and back-to-front logic. As he fell through walls and tangled with ladders, glue buckets and other runaway inanimate objects, Flanagan channels every slapstick genius from Buster Keaton to Los Trios Ringbarkus. (Link here to the complete reviews in The West Australian).

Kids come to Dr Brown's rescue
Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown (Phil Burger) and his Singing Tiger (Stuart Bowden) were a smash at this year's Edinburgh Fringe (link here to a review from that season) and I'm sure they will be here. Burger is a remarkable performer (think Sasha Baron Cohen; even better, think Alan Arkin); bemused, sly and inventive, he sent the kids in the Spiegeltent wild with mischievous delight. Bowden, as his sidekick and foil is every bit as entertaining as he rides the waves of improvised mayhem Burger creates with a huge grin and a tiny ukelele. If this show was the late night feature in the tent at the Fringe it would be a sensation; for kids, and the grown-ups with them, it's nothing short of a mid-day miracle. 

Wolfe Bowart is a native Arizonian who now lives in Perth, and last year’s Awesome Festival gave him a chance to play to his adopted home crowd for the first time.
Bowart returns with Letter's End, just as impressive as his 2011 show, The Man the Sea Saw, but even more fun and engaging for young audiences. It's a freer expression of his performance skills and less of a formal narrative than its predecessor.

Theatre: Deckchair folds

Rose Parker sings for the diggers: the 2001 Len Hall Game
It's tragic to hear of the demise of Deckchair Theatre, for thirty years a Fremantle institution and a unique and important part of the fabric of theatre in WA.
Like everyone, I'm grateful for the scores of original works, many about the history of Western Australia and the characters that peopled it, it commissioned and produced, and the terrific productions and performances it gifted us.
I have a personal reason to be grateful for Deckchair's commitment to Fremantle, and a special reason to record its passing. For seven years I worked with Deckchair on the Dockers' Len Hall Game ceremonies and a host of other presentations on Fremantle Football Club match days and other events. Some of those productions – the 1999 Vietnam and 2001 Kokoda Trail/ Tobruk tributes, the three-part Sense of Place series about Fremantle's identity (the first time the Australia Council had directly funded a sporting club) and the season opening 2001: a Football Odyssey, which was without doubt the best thing in the club's annus horribilis – will always be remembered. Along the way the club and the theatre company won state and national awards for their work together, but, more importantly, helped create that difference about the Dockers that contributed mightily to its ability to withstand the bad times and prosper in the good.
With Deckchair now gone, and the threat of the Dockers heading off to a shopping centre in distant Cockburn seeming more real every day, these are worrying times at the port. Let's hope the old girl lifts up her skirts and does some high kicking again soon!
My commiserations to Phil Thompson, Angela Chaplin, Chris Bendall and all the creative people who did such great work at Deckchair; the admirable Barry Strickland, David Gerrand, Rose Lenzo and everyone else who put in the hard yards in the back office and board of the company. A job very well done.       

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Theatre: The Warrior and the Princess/ Tinkertown

The Warrior and the Princess
Blue Moose

By Shirley Van Sanden
Directed by Monica Main
Performed by Brian Liau, Rhoda Lopez, Ian Toyne, Monica Main, Shirley Van Sanden and Marty Liang
The Blue Room
Until October 20

by Nathaniel Moncrieff
Directed by Sam Farringdon and Nathaniel Moncrieff
Performed by Phil Miolin, Tessa Carmody, Hannah Day, Jeremy Levi and Felicity Groom
The Blue Room
Until October 13

In The Warrior and the Princess, Shirley Van Sanden has taken the story of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in WWII Lithuania, and fashioned an inventively told and moving tale of universal human sympathy and courage.
That history is long and complex, and, in the hour or so at her disposal, a bit too much of Van Sanden’s dialogue serves exposition rather than the development of character and relationships, but she holds our interest in her story and makes us care about her people, and that’s a fine achievement.
There’s a harrowing momentum in Nathaniel Moncrieff’s writing that gives his actors plenty to work from.
But the characters in his Tinkertown talk too much, and, consequently, often don’t say nearly enough. Moncrieff would do well, I think, to heed the example of many of his heroes, count the words in his script and re-write it with half as many of them. 

Link here to the complete reviews in The West Australian

Thursday, October 4, 2012

WIN!: The NT season at Luna

Luke Treadway in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Anyone who's seen the "live" filmed performances by the National Theatre at Luna will tell you how brilliantly they've captured some of the best shows you're never likely to see otherwise in Perth.
Luna have stepped up to the plate with a generous offer to Turnstiles readers to be their guest at this season's three productions, Simon Stephen's hit stage adaptation of Mark Haddon's international best seller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Julie Walters and Rory Kinnear starring in Stephen Beresford's The Last of the Haussmans and Nicholas Hytner's definitive production of Shakespeare's Timon of Athens.
To win one of four double passes to each of the films, email me at with the name of the playwright of the show you'd like to see.

You can also  link here to purchase tickets online through the Luna Palace website.