Saturday, August 31, 2013

Theatre: Hedda

by Henrik Ibsen
Adapted by Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik and Renato Fabretti
Directed by Renato Fabretti  
With Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik, Tone Skaardal, Renato Fabretti, Richie Flanagan and Phil Miolin
The Blue Room Theatre
Until August 31 
The world’s in a bit of a spin over all things gritty and Scandinavian. Our televisions (or at least the best bits of them) are tuned to grim Swedish skies (various Wallanders and Girls With Tattoos) and rotten days in Denmark (serial Killings and Borgens) – the two countries have even combined forces, if not bodies, over The Bridge.
As far as I’m aware, the Norwegians have yet to join this small-screen splatter party, so this very tight, contemporary take on Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler comes at a fortuitous time.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Theatre: The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid
Houston Sinclair
Directed by Ian Sinclair
Devised and performed by Georgia King, Jacinta Larcombe and Ben Gill
The Blue Room Theatre
Until September 7

The earlier of the Blue Room’s Scandinavian double feature is a tricky, erotically charged inversion of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid.
In this version, the mermaid (Jacinta Larcombe) is a teenage girl in an Australian coastal town. She’s a castaway in the small society around her. Her only company, apart from her mother (Georgia King), is the picture of Leonardo DiCaprio above her bed. Then she meets a boy (Ben Gill) who befriends her and invites her to his party. In return, she takes him down to the sea.
Her mother wants to relive her belle-of-the-ball youth vicariously through her daughter, but when reminiscence becomes too too solid flesh, the consequences are heartbreaking and tragic.
Link here to my complete review of The Little Mermaid in The West Australian.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Theatre: Easy Virtue

By Noel Coward
Directed by Jason Langley
Ayeesha Ash
Performed by WAAPA 3rd Year Acting students Charlotte Davenport, Nicholas Starte, Grace Smilbert, Andreas Lohmeyer, Ayeesha Ash, William Thompson, Emilie Cocquerel, Shaynee Bradshaw, Samuel Delich, Justina Ward, Cecelia Peters, Michael Abercromby, Oscar Harris, James Sweeny, Madeleine Vizard, Felix Johnson and Rose Riley
Geoff Gibbs Theatre, WAAPA
August 23 - 29, 2013

WAAPA productions must strike a delicate balance between the academy’s objectives – its students’ training and the imperative to showcase their talents to the performing arts and entertainment community, and, of course, to put on a swell show.
That last priority is even more important now: the demise of some local companies has thinned out the options for theatre audiences, and WAAPA can mount large cast productions that can’t be matched elsewhere.
The annual Broadway extravaganzas staged by the music theatre department at the Regal are the most prominent example of this balancing act. This production, the third year acting students’ blitz of Noel Coward’s parlour melodrama Easy Virtue, matches them for purpose, and for sheer entertainment.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Monday, August 19, 2013

Theatre: 51 Shades of Maggie Muff

by Leesa Harker
Directed by Terence O’Connell
Starring Nikki Britton
Subiaco Arts Centre
Until September 21

A spectacularly obscene parody of the mummy porn phenomenon 50 Shades of Grey was inevitable, and, despite myself, I’m happy to welcome it to our shores.

51 Shades of Maggie Muff started life as a bit of fun for Belfast mature-age student Leesa Harker and her mates on Facebook. Then known as 51 Shades of Red, White and Blue (there’s some Irish politics here), it became an overnight online sensation in Ireland, gathering 25,000 readers and a book deal within weeks, followed quickly by hit stage versions in Dublin and Glasgow.

Within a year of Harker’s first lurid chapter hitting the ether, it’s here, now set in the rough-as-guts wrong side of the tracks in Manchester, where the main employer is the dole office, the main activity is late night shoplifting and the main entertainment, to use the least offensive of Maggie’s arsenal of wafer-thin euphemisms, is bucking.

In the practiced hands of the busy director Terence O’Connell, whose Empire is also running in Perth, and with a fabulously vivid and boisterous solo performance by Nikki Britton, Maggie Muff is wildly funny much of the time, and surprisingly touching to boot.

That’s because Maggie, who thinks she’s found love with the creepy upper class tosser who works at the dole office, is as much working class heroine as she is sex addict. The tone of the play shifts adroitly between excruciatingly crude descriptions of sexual attraction and practices, and the effect they have on various body parts, to nicely drawn vignettes of lives lived tough, rough and not far from the street.

It’s desperately offensive, and, to be honest, becomes a little grinding and repetitive in the second half, but Maggie is no Anastasia Steele, her saltiness is of the earth and she’s a character that you can recognise, and empathise with, even at her most outrageous and degraded.

And boy (well, really, girl) does this thing have an audience! On a stay-at-home-and-watch-the-tv night in the middle of the third week of its run, there were still a couple of hundred in the theatre. Only around ten per cent of them were male (including Britton’s dad, who’d taken a couple of days off work to fly to Perth to see his daughter make an exhibition of herself), and the gleeful laughter of the other ninety per cent was unmistakable. And it isn’t girlish giggling we’re talking about here; this was full-throated guffawing born, I think, of identification and ownership.

Not, I hasten to add, with and of BDSM and the other amusements on Maggie Muff’s menu; more for the chance to have some good filthy fun that isn’t for, and owned by, men.

Actually, I’m not quite sure what the male equivalent of 51 Shades of Maggie Muff is. And I’m also not sure, if it exists, we’d be up to it.   

This review appeared in The West Australian

Cabaret: Christa Hughes

Neurotic Ladyland
Downstairs at the Maj
15 – 18 August, 2013

Christa Hughes, she with the voice that goes right up to her bum, returns to the basement cabaret at the Maj in great form.
Last time she was here was with her dad, the venerable boogie woogie pianist Dick Hughes, and a terrific set of dirty blues and drinking songs; this time around she’s brought the striking jazz pianist Leonie Cohen, drummer Jim Dunlop, a combustible collection of right-out-there songs and some truly gob-smacking costumes.
The result, Neurotic Ladyland, sometimes threatens to tip over the edge, but most of the risks Hughes takes pay off, and she’s always got that mighty voice of hers to straighten things up if they go haywire.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Theatre: Stomp

Created and directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas
Performed by Cameron Newlin, Angus H Little, Paul Bend, Ian Vincent, Phil Batchelor, Michael Landis, Leilani Dibble and Asha Jennings-Grant
Regal Theatre
Until August 18

Gus Little
Perth is having a run of shows from what might be called the International Cirquet. These high-production, big top-inspired extravaganzas follow in the footsteps of Cirque du Soleil (whose own Michael Jackson – the Immortal arrives here in a month).
Stomp is one of the most venerable and successful of the type.
It’s trained its audience well. There was much hootin’ and hollerin’ from the stalls as the eight-strong company banged, crashed and walloped their way through a dozen or so routines, mostly in overdrive.
The hook – and it’s a good one – is to make noise on “found” objects, so there’s much banging of tins and steel drums and shopping trolleys, bits of pipe and even more unlikely instruments. It’s appealingly democratic and liberating, but I confess to checking my watch a couple of times a bit too long before the stomping stopped.                   
  Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Friday, August 2, 2013

Theatre: Slava's Snowshow

Created and staged by Slava Polunin
Performed by Derek Scott, Robert Saralp, Andrey Klimak, Evgeny Perevalov, Ira Selberstein, Nikolai Terentiev, Aelita West and Bradford West
Regal Theatre
Until August 5
The circus is well and truly in town. The acrobats and jugglers are over at Crown in the Empire spiegeltent, but the clowns have taken over the Regal Theatre in Slava’s Snowshow.
And what a show it is.
Slava Polunin has inherited centuries of European clowning tradition; a line that runs through folklore to Shakespeare, from Commedia dell’Arte to Pierrot and Columbina, Punch and Judy, and Laurel and Hardy, from the Little Tramp to the tramps in Waiting for Godot, from Mo McCackie to Louis CK.
Its great device is the irrepressible humour that bubbles up from under the sadness of the clown. At the start of the show, the Yellow Clown (the wonderful Robert Saralp) shuffles on stage, full of sighs, his eyes, in the lugubrious mask of his clown’s face, downcast, a noose in his hands. Naturally, faced with a man at the end of his rope, we start laughing, and we rarely stop for the next eighty or so minutes.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian