Friday, November 29, 2013

Theatre: Brief Encounter

Kneehigh Theatre
By Noël Coward
Adapted and directed by Emma Rice
Original music by Stu Barker
Designer Neil Murray
Lighting designer Malcolm Rippeth
Sound designer Simon Baker
Projection and film designer Jon Driscoll and Gemma Carrington
Performed by Joe Alessi, Kate Cheel, Damon Duanno, Annete McLaughlin, Michelle Nightingale and Jim Sturgeon, with musicians Dave Brown and James Gow
Regal Theatre
Until December 1

Time is short, and yours is precious, so let’s not beat about the bush.
I suggest you immediately secure tickets to one of the four remaining performances of Kneehigh’s glorious Brief Encounter at the Regal. You’ll be so glad you did.
It’s a tragedy that this season has been shortened because of poor ticket sales. Don’t be one of the unfortunate many who miss it.

Link here to my review in The West Australian, and have a brief encounter now...


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Newman at seventy

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday Randy Newman
How terribly strange...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Theatre: Bruce

Weeping Spoon Productions
Created and performed by Tim Watts and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd
Music composed by Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd
The Blue Room Theatre
Until December 7

Like all modern heroes, Bruce is a complicated guy. Well, maybe not “guy” exactly. Bruce is a complicated chunk of mattress foam with eyes stuck in it, and a pair of disembodied, white-gloved, hands. Sometimes three.
Bruce only has three hands when he’s a hallucinating junkie. Not when he’s an astronaut, or a cop, a best-selling author or a newborn baby, a doting father, a tongue-tied suitor or an old man.
No matter how he’s counting his hands, though, Bruce has a problem with eyes. Not his two, but the one that his former partner, One Eyed Joe, lost when Bruce unwisely took a shot in a police raid. Joe, who grew up dreaming of being an astronaut himself.
It’s a cruel world for the one-eyed, and Joe wants revenge.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: Crash Course

Performing Lines WA
Created and performed by James Berlyn
with Sarah Nelson
Directed by Nikki Heywood
PICA until November 30

James Berlyn has constructed a language, Winfrien, of his own, and, in the hour of Crash Course, he sets about teaching it to us.
Our good work is rewarded with an encouraging “kweiloo”, as Berlyn helps – “tsoopun” – us adapt – “arn-tsunder” – to speaking – “ka-ka” – and writing – “glicken” – in this unfamiliar language.
Before the hour was up, and much to my amazement, I share with my classmates the first, dim, sense that understanding, perhaps even mastery, of Winfein isn’t unattainable. It’s an exhilarating feeling, an emotion of logic, like that which great music or dance elicits.
Berlyn delivers all this with skill and magnetism. There are little winks and nudges from the “real” world – at one point, buried so far under his Winfeinish accent you could hardly decipher them, he recited a list of English-language poets; Shakespeare, Joyce, Eliot, Yeats – but his command never drops, you never think he is talking anything but cogent, coherent Winfrien.
Crash Course was great fun, it was immensely thought provoking, and, above all, it was very, very kweiloo.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Theatre: South Pacific

The squirrel and the bear
By Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan
Directed by Bartlett Sher
Musical Staging Christopher Gattelli
Musical director and conductor Stephen Gray
Set Design by Michael Yeargan
Starring Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes
Featuring Mitchell Butel, Blake Bowden, Christine Anu, Bartholomew John, Jeremy Stanford, Rowan Witt, Andrew Hondromatidis and Celina Yuen
Crown Theatre until December 8

What we have here is the Australian touring production of the smash Lincoln Center Theatre 2008 Broadway revival of Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic 1949 musical adaptation of James A. Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific.
With that pedigree, and all that talent, you’d be confident very little could go wrong.
South Pacific is more than romantic froth and bubble under swaying palm trees, of course. It had been only four years since US Marines were bloodily island-hopping their way towards Japan through the same dots on the map on which South Pacific is set, and it would be only another eight years later that General, now President, Eisenhower would order a division of the U.S. Army to escort nine frightened children to school past an angry mob because of the colour of their skin.
Sher is punctilious in keeping these sinister, painful things front-and-centre, and adds layers of his own.
There’s plenty to ponder in the story of the romance of the French planter De Becque (Teddy Tahu Rhodes) and the small-town flower Nellie Forbush, the heroic, doomed Lieutenant Cable (the handsome Blake Bowden) the Vietnamese girl Liat (Celina Yuen) and her mother, the souvenir merchant and pimp Bloody Mary (Anu).
But some things do go wrong, and it starts at the top. Rhodes is a gigantic figure on stage, but his presence, especially in dialogue, amplified and in an accent that seems a couple of countries east of French, is – I hate to say this – almost Schwarzeneggarian. McCune's clinches with Rhodes are like a squirrel being hugged by a bear. Some of her performances, too, fade a little, and that’s a problem in a show where her songs provide much of its snap, crackle and pop.
South Pacific is a mighty achievement and a great show. This revival has much to like, but, as tropical island weather goes, it was some degrees short of a heat wave.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian 

Theatre: Midsummer (a play with songs)

Georgina Gayler (pic Gary Marsh)
Black Swan State Theatre Company
Written by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre
Directed by Damon Lockwood
Set and costume design by Fiona Bruce
Lighting designer Trent Suidgeest
Musical director and sound designer Ben Collins
Starring Georgina Gayler and Brendan Hansen, with musicians Ben Collins, Andrew Weir, Harry Oliff and Elliot Smith
Heath Ledger Theatre until Nov 24

Don’t you love that Scottish brogue? Wouldn’t life be interesting if it were narrated by Peter Capaldi and starred Billy Connolly?
Over the last few Perth festivals, we’ve seen it work its gruff magic in the National Theatre of Scotland productions Black Watch and Beautiful Burnout, and now David Greig, the writer of the most recent festival’s audacious, hilarious hit, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, returns, courtesy of Black Swan’s revival of his 2008 black rom-com hit, Midsummer (a play with songs).
While Midsummer doesn’t quite have the imaginative pyrotechnics of Prudencia, it’s got some exquisite screw tightening, some hilarious set pieces (watch out for Puppetry of the Cock, coming to the Regal sometime soon), and a deus ex machina that’s as inevitable as it is necessary.
If I have a problem with Midsummer, it’s that the piece suits a smaller stage in a smaller theatre. It debuted in a space quite like the Blue Room’s larger room next door, and I’d love to see it mounted there, or in the STC’s own studio.

That aside, it’s hard to find fault with a show that delivers the most and best laughs in Black Swan’s 2013 season.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian              

Monday, November 4, 2013

Theatre: The Hardest Way to Make an Omelette

Written and performed by Jessica Harlond-Kenny
Directed by Leah Mercer
Sound and Lighting designed by Joe Lui
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle

Until Nov 9

You have to like what performance artist Jessica Harlond-Kenny attempts in The Hardest Way to Make an Omelette, which is appearing in tandem with Shirley Van Sanden’s excellent The Warrior and the Princess at Spare Parts as part of the Fremantle Festival.
The attempt, though, is more impressive than the show.