Saturday, December 20, 2014

Music: John Legend

Riverside Theatre
December 16, 2014

John Legend, inheritor of the smooth sexy R&B of Marvin Gaye and Al Green and journeyman to the superstars, has had a slow burning ascent since his first album, Get Lifted, hit internationally and won him three Grammys in 2004.
His sold-out Riverside Theatre show on Tuesday demonstrated that his star now burns as bright as those of his illustrious peers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Musical: Thriller Live

Original Concept Adrian Grant
Director and Choreographer Gary Lloyd
Musical Director John Maher
Featuring MiG Ayesa, Alex Buchanan, Sean Christopher, Samantha Johnson and Tyrone Lee
Crown Theatre
Until December 21

One of the very few things the shameless Michael Jackson: The Immortal – an exploitation of the late King of Pop by his family and Cirque du Soleil that cleaned up at the Perth Arena last year – got right was its name.
There are Jackson tributes of one kind or another all over the place, and I don’t doubt we’ll be seeing them from here to eternity.
Short of reincarnation, though, Thriller Live, the latest tribute show to arrive in Perth, is what Jackson’s fans want, and it’s easy to see why.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Music: Ben Folds and WASO

Perth Concert Hall
November 28, 2014


“I’m not bad”, declared the singer and songwriter, Ben Folds, “but you should come see the real stuff.”
Folds made this self-deprecating pronouncement during a lively defence of symphony orchestras after his Piano Concerto – Movement 3, a not-at-all-bad mash-up of the form, in the first set of his Perth Concert Hall stand with WASO (conducted by Nicholas Buc).
The set needed it, and more, to overcome a swampy sound that reduced songs like the opener, Effington, to a blare. It exposed Folds’ weaknesses – a voice best described as plaintive, and melodies that are more chord progressions than tunes – and obscured the strengths that have made him a star: complex, cunning lyrics and muscular rhythm piano playing.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Theatre: Joey the Mechanical Boy

The Nest Ensemble
Written and devised by Margi Brown Ash and Leah Mercer
Performed by Margi Brown Ash and Phillip Miolin
Directed by Leah Mercer
Set and costume designer Tessa Darcey
Lighting designer Karen Cook
Sound designer Joe Lui


Until November 22
Margi Brown Ash and Phillip Miolin (pic Leigh Brennan)


In their award-winning Eve (2012), the writer/performer Margi Brown Ash and writer/director Leah Mercer told the sad story of the now-forgotten Australian writer Eve Langley. The biographical details, though, were just a jumping-off point for their exploration of Eve’s rapture, and for Ash’s remarkable performance.
Their new play, Joey: the Mechanical Boy, also deals with real events and people. They may be obscure now, but, in the American frenzy for all things Freudian after WWII, the autistic boy Joey, his so-called “refrigerator mother” and the psychotherapist Dr Bruno Bettelheim, were big news.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Theatre: Those Who Fall in Love Like Anchors Dropped Upon the Ocean Floor

By Finegan Kruckemeyer
Jo Morris and theMOXY collective
Directed by Adam Mitchell
Designed by India Mehta
Lighting design Chris Donnelly
Sound design Ben Collins
Starring Jo Morris, Renée Newman-Storen and Ben Mortley
Blue Room Theatre until 29 November


Jo Morris (l) Ben Mortley and Renée Newman-Storen
It’s a name to take seriously, despite itself. I don’t mean Those Who Fall in Love Like Anchors Dropped Upon the Ocean Floor so much as its writer, the extravagantly-monikered Finegan Kruckemeyer.
There are many of the good things about children’s theatre in Twifilladutoff, despite its decidedly adult themes and content. Four stories fold across each other over time and space. Each glitters with humour, but a melancholy hangs over them. Love, for all these characters, is as elusive as it is fundamental; life devours both itself and any fool who dares to tell the time. 


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Theatre: Gasp!

Black Swan State Theatre Company and Queensland Theatre Company
by Ben Elton
Directed by Wesley Enoch
Designed by Christina Smith
With Damon Lockwood, Caroline Brazier, Lucy Goleby, Greg McNeill and Steven Rooke
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
Until November 9

Nothing to get steamed up about: Damon Lockwood (r), Greg McNeill and Steven Rooke (pic: Gary Marsh)
Black Swan wraps up its 2014 season with revivals of two all but contemporaneous comedies; the first was Neil Simon’s 1993 Laughter on the 23rd Floor; now we have Ben Elton’s Gasp!, an update of his Gasping from 1990.
The Neil Simon was a delight; genuinely funny, and a platform for some bravura performances. The Ben Elton? Meh.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Theatre: Metalhead

Tiffany Barton
Creative Collaborations and The Fremantle Festival
Written by Tiffany Barton
Directed by Monica Main
Featuring Della-Rae Morrison, Maitland Schnaars, Caitlin Jane Hampson, Amri Mrisho, Maja Liwszyc and Rubeun Yorkshire
Victoria Hall
23 – 30 October 2014

We’ve seen two plays from and about the Pilbara town of Roebourne here in the last month. Both are the result of long collaborations with the local community, and both spring from the tragedies that have beset that hardscrabble, blighted place. 
The first, Big hART’s Hipbone Sticking Out, has triumphantly reached its potential; it’s as exciting and creatively successful a piece of theatre as I’ve seen.
Tiffany Barton’s Metalhead (at Victoria Hall, directed by Monica Main for the Fremantle Festival) still has some distance to travel.
Metalhead lacks accuracy and development in parts, and some of its characters are hard to grasp. There is, though, undoubted power, unflinching conviction and theatre craft in much of Barton’s writing. She’s shown in work like Diva and Polly’s Waffle that she has no fear of sex or violence, either separately or in combination, in her work, and there are some savage lessons to be learned from it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Performance: Proximity festival 2014

Fremantle Arts Centre 
until November 2
 

It’s the third year of Proximity, the interactive/ one-on-one/ site-specific micro-festival of performance intensive care.
The curators, Sarah Rowbottam and Kelli Mccluskey (taking over from James Berlyn, who is an advisor to, and performer in, the festival) are really getting the hang of the thing, the only one of its kind in the country.
It’s also likely that Proximity’s audience – the 324 performances over nine days are sold out – knows better what to expect and how to handle its mechanics.
What’s indisputable is that Proximity has found its venue; the Fremantle Arts Centre’s maze of rooms, courtyards, corridors and stairs has a patina built over 150 years of use, and the echoes of its sometimes tragic history whisper in your mind’s ear as you move through it.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Plague notes: Lily goes bowling

My daughter is rewarding herself for three hard years working in the Japanese education system with an extended trip around the Great Capitals. Since Paris, her guide has been Randy Newman's "Great Nations of Europe" (she's a well-brought-up and dutiful daughter, our Lily).
A few days ago she went to a little bowling alley in Brooklyn which has now gained a certain notoriety.
Which makes the last verse of the song (from 3:00) eerily prescient...


Not that Randy is the only, or the first, with that gift:  

Gare du Midi   
A nondescript express in from the South,
Crowds round the ticket barrier, a face


To welcome which the mayor has not contrived

Bugles or braid: something about the mouth

Distracts the stray look with  
alarm and pity.

Snow is falling, 
Clutching a little case,

He walks out briskly to infect a city

Whose terrible future may have just arrived.

                                         W.H. Auden (1938)


Note: While Auden and Newman's apocalyptic tone is attractively horrifying, the inefficiencies of the present contagion suggest it's unlikely it will be our terrible future (this despite the Australian government's strange reluctance to join in the effort to nip it in its West African bud). 
The fingerpointing and scapegoating of Fox News and its ilk—at times almost implying that the brave and unfortunate Dr Spencer is some sort of bio-terrorist, and accusing the US president of being personally culpable for the panic they themselves are inciting—is particularly disgusting, even by their disgraceful standards.    



Friday, October 17, 2014

Theatre: Welcome to Slaughter

11.47 Productions
Devised and performed by Michelle Robin Anderson, Jo Morris and Emily Rose Brennan
Devised and text by Jeffrey Jay Fowler
Directed by Michelle Robin Anderson and Joe Lui
Set design Shaye Preston
Lighting design Joe Lui
Sound design Brett Smith
Blue Room Theatre
Until 25 October
 

Welcome to Slaughter is a rom-horredy.
It’s certainly not a rom-com (no happiness ever after to be had here), but it’s not slasher, snuff or any of the other forms of horror either.
You could say it’s “a treatment of the disintegration of a romantic relationship by means of the allegorical personification of destructive thoughts, with strong elements of horror and comedy”, but that’s a bit old school, and too long to fit on a poster. So rom-horredy it is. 


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Comedy: Rhys Darby Live

Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley
October 13 & 14


New Zullind’s favourite band manager, Rhys Darby, returns to Perth after a four-year absence, this time for a couple of nights at the Astor.
On the back of his memorable stint as Murray Hewitt in Flight of the Conchords, he was hot property back then. The house full signs up at the Astor confirm he hasn’t cooled off in the interval.
“Rhys Darby Live” is a distillation of stand-up segments from his more skit and character-driven shows, although we meet one of his aliases, the park ranger-cum-personal bodyguard Bill Napier, in a quick routine to warm the crowd up and introduce a clever support by Jamie Bowen.
After interval, the main course is an autobiography, or something resembling one. From it we learn that Darby spent some time in the New Zealand army, met his wife of ten years, Rosie, in a nightclub, and honeymooned at one of those beach-and-jungle resorts in Thailand.
From there, it’s pretty much mayhem.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Cabaret: Exactly Like You

Exactly Like You: The Magic of Dorothy Fields
book by Nick Maclaine and Izaak Lim
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Music by Cy Coleman, Jerome Kern and Jimmy McHugh
Directed by Michael Loney
Musical director Lochlan Brown
Performed by Ali Bodycoat, Ian Cross and Izaak Lim
Downstairs at the Maj
9 – 11 October, 2014

Three years ago the young writers and producers Nick Maclaine and Izaac Lim teamed with director Michael Loney in the snazzy Cole Porter biographical pastiche, You’ve Got That Thing.
They top it with Exactly Like You: The Magic of Dorothy Fields, a vivid memoir of one of the most durable and influential musical artists of the past century.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Theatre: Echolalia

Kallo Collective
Written and performed by Jen McArthur
Awesome Festival
Until October 13
(Recommended for 7+ year-olds)

One of the goals of this year’s Awesome Festival is to be welcoming for children on the autism spectrum. Awesome contains a number of events by autistic people and about autism, among them Echolalia, by the New Zealander Jen McArthur.
Echolalia is a behaviour involving the imitation of words, phrases and, sometimes, whole passages by autistic people, often in language they would not normally use and don’t fully understand.
From the outside looking in, autism is bewildering and often frightening. The great gift of Echolalia is to help us see it from the inside looking out. The result is a work that has the intent and appearance of children’s theatre, but lacks nothing for adult audiences.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Theatre: Fluff - A Story of Lost Toys

Fluff: A Story of Lost Toys
Cre8ion, for the Awesome Festival


Devised and performed by Christine Johnston, Lisa O’Neill and Peter Nelson
Heath Ledger Theatre
Until October 11
(Recommended for 3+ year-olds)
 

You know those vox pops in movie ads where audience members rave about the life-changing experience they’ve just had watching, say, a Judd Apatow bromance?
There’s an equivalent in children’s theatre, but it’s more immediate and genuine.
It happens in the auditorium, and sounds something like this: “What’s he doing?” “That’s not funny.” “It IS funny!” “He’s a silly man.” “How does he do that?” (Squeal. Laughter. More laughter.) “Are they robots?” “Why are they doing that?” (Adult laughter. Baby gurgles.) “How did he get out?”, “YEAH!” “Magic!”
And the clincher (from, I’m guessing, a three-year-old): “This movie is SO funny!”
And that, in a nutshell, is the terrific Fluff: A Story of Lost Toys.

Theatre: Moominpappa at Sea

by Tove Jansson
Adapted and directed by Michael Barlow

Creative consultant Noriko Nishimoto
Designed by Leon Hendroff
Composer Lee Buddle
Performed by Michael Barlow and Bruno Michel
Awesome Festival
Until October 13
(Recommended for 5+ year-olds)

To celebrate the centenary of the birth of the Finnish writer Tove Jansson, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre has adapted her Moominpappa at Sea for the Awesome Festival.
Jansson’s odd, whimsical tales of the Moomin family – Moominpappa, his wife Moominmamma and their son Moomintroll – occupy an imaginative territory also inhabited by the Babar herd and the Wild Things, with a little Nordic peculiarity thrown into the mix.
The Moomins are pale, round, irresistible critters with hippo-like snouts, recreated here with impressive accuracy as 50cm puppets. As manipulated by Michael Barlow (who also adapted and directs the story) they are intrepid, resourceful, optimistic – and a little bit formal.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Theatre: Lily Can't Sleep

By Bridget Boyle and Liz Skitch with David Megarrity
Debase Productions, for the Awesome Festival


Director: Scott Witt

Composer: Brett Collery

Performed by Bridget Boyle and Liz Skitch
Seagull Tent, Perth Cultural Centre
Until October 10
(Recommended for 3 – 8 year-olds)

What do our kids get up to at night?
Little Lily (Liz Skitch) is living in a new house. She starts at a new school in the morning and, unsurprisingly, she’s a little daunted and more than a bit sleepless.
Mum (Bridget Boyle) patiently lets Lily run through the usual stalling manoeuvres – drink, toilet, story, find my favourite cuddly toy – but, eventually, the voice of authority has to prevail: “It’s Go To Sleep Time Now, Lily; Why Don’t You Count Some Sheep?”
So Lily learns of the time-honoured technique imposed by exasperated parents on fidgety children. Mum fetches Lily’s toy sheep from a box, she snuggles up and, despite distractions, gets counting.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Theatre: Hipbone Sticking Out

Big hART
Writer and director Scott Rankin
Musical director Nate Gilkes
Choreographers Adelina Larsson and Yumi Umiumare
Set designer Genevieve Dugard
Costume designer Tess Schofield
Lighting designer Matt Cox
Sound designer Jed Silver
Vision designer Benjamin Ducroz
Cast: Shareena Clanton, Trevor Jamieson, Lex Marinos, Martin Crewes, Sheridan Harbridge, Yumi Umiumare, Michael Walley, Cho Cleary and people from the Roebourne community, including Patrick Churnside and Nelson Coppin.
Musicians: Maria Lurighi, David Hewitt, Dudley Billing, and John Bennett

Heath Ledger Theatre
Until October 4

Brueghel's Orpheus in the Underworld is a stunning introduction to Hipbone Sticking Out
A while back, in a review of The TEAM’s thrilling Mission Drift at a Perth Festival, I said, “it has everything I think theatre should have, and does everything I believe theatre should do”.
So here goes; to paraphrase the title of one of the songs adapted for Big hARTS extraordinary Hipbone Sticking Out; Oops, I’m saying it again.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: the Ballad of Pondlife McGurk

By Andy Manley and Rob Evans
Barking Gecko and Windmill Theatre
By arrangement with Catherine Wheels Theatre Company
Directed by Gill Robertson
Performed by Marko Jovanovic
Subiaco Arts Centre Studio
Until October 4
 

No one said school was meant to be easy, and for Simon and Martin, two young boys newly arrived at a primary school in Grade 6, it’s going to be tough.
They’re outsiders in a small world run by an in crowd, the smart, vicious, Sharon McGuiness, her acolyte Anushka, and the jocks-in-training Colin and Stuart.
Still, two loners are better than one, and the boys bond over their shared sense of adventure and their love of comics.
Their estrangement, and the cruelties and betrayals that brought it about, are the story of the play.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Friday, September 26, 2014

Theatre: Falling Through Clouds

The Last Great Hunt
Created and Performed by Tim Watts, Arielle Gray, Adriane Daff and Chris Isaacs
Music by Ash Gibson Greig
Set design by Anthony Watts
PICA
22 September – 11 October
 

Tim Watts, Arielle Gray and Chris Isaacs are great in the dark. Put them in a black room, turn out the lights, get Tim’s amazing dad to make things with paper and scissors, cardboard boxes, a few pin lights and a Texta or two – and the result is the highly original, engaging shows that have taken them around the world.
Falling Through Clouds is the third of these small sagas (following The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik and It’s Dark Outside), and for it Watts, Gray and Isaacs are joined by Adriane Daff, one of the other members of The Last Great Hunt Theatre Company
Daff is Mary, a geneticist in a future where birds are extinct. She has a one-year contract to recreate a bird, and have it fly. Or, at least, that’s what she dreams. Watts’s idea (he’s credited as the ‘initiating artist’ here) is to her impossible dream to life.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Monday, September 22, 2014

Theatre: King Hit

By Geoffrey Narkle and David Milroy
Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company
Directed Kyle J Morrison
Set and costume Designer India Mehta
Music and sound designer Clint Bracknell
Lighting designer Jenny Vila
Performed by Clarence Ryan, Karla Hart, Maitland Schnaars and Benj D’Addario
State Theatre Centre Courtyard
Until October 4

“Holda! Holda! Holda! There’s going to be a fight in this house!”
The call of the sideshow alley boxing tent barker rings through King Hit, the story of Geoffrey Narkle (Clarence Ryan) and the life of Noongar families through the ’50s and ’60s in WA.
Narkle wrote his story with the playwright, David Milroy, and the Yirra Yaakin theatre company premiered it in 1997. As a document of Aboriginal theatre, and the social history of Aboriginal people in this state, King Hit has an enduring value that more than merits this revival.
In its own right, as theatre for the here and now, it is an unqualified success.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Theatre: Letters Home and What Do They Call Me

Letters Home 
Written and performed by Joe Lui
Direction mentor Humphrey Bower
Until October 4


What Do They Call Me
By Eva Johnson
Directed by Eva Grace Mullaley
Performed by Ebony McGuire, Amy Smith and Alyssa Thompson
The Blue Room
Until September 27

 

The brave, skilled and endlessly industrious Joe Lui has been writer, composer, producer, director, sound and lighting designer and/or musician for very many of our most adventurous and confronting productions. He’s also something of an enigma.
Born Lui Shang Yu into a conservative Singaporean Chinese family, Lui is bitterly estranged from his parents and exiled from Singapore because he refused to do national service. In his one-man show, Letters Home, the story he tells is his own.
A voracious consumer of culture, from high art to American Football, Lui is, in many ways, an invention of himself—in one brilliant moment he speaks with the Singlish pronunciation of the young man who arrived in Perth to study years ago; the effect is as revealing as it is startling.
Lui has plenty to think about, and plenty to say. Letters Home is a torrent of words—part self-analysis, part confession, part didacticism—about Chinese culture, families, sex and death.
What emerges is a self-portrait of a man who holds very firm ideas but is still discovering how he came by them.
We learn about his heroes, his philosophy of art and sex, Chinese food and rituals. We also learn that he’s stubborn, pugnacious and believes in work rather than inspiration.
What he learns in Letters Home, though, is that you can reject things—family, country and way of life—without having to hate them.
Letters Home is visually rich (much credit to Cherish Marrington’s set design, Chris Donnelly’s lighting and Mia Holton’s video design) and much more tightly staged than it appears (Humphrey Bower collaborated with Lui on its direction).
I can’t imagine any of the hundreds of people who’ve been amazed and intrigued by Joe Lui over the years will want to miss it; for those who haven’t, you should take the opportunity to meet a quite remarkable person. 
  
What Do They Call Me, Eva Johnson’s seminal 1990 play about the lives of the three women of an Aboriginal family, was originally conceived as a one-woman show. This revival has a different actor for each of the characters; the brave, combative Connie (Amy Smith) and her daughters, the “assimilated” Regina (Alyssa Thompson) and activist Alison (Ebony McGuire).
Smith, Thompson and McGuire are all fine, and the director Eva Grace Munelly manages the narration and the transitions between her actors well, but inevitably each performance is one-dimensional, a quick sketch. The challenge for a single actor of moving between the characters would have made for more compelling theatre.
That aside, it’s important that we see revivals of work from the back catalogue of Aboriginal theatre. Plays like What Do They Call Me, by reminding us of where indigenous people have been, make us realise how far we all still have to go.



This review appeared in The West Australian 20.9.14

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Theatre: Laughter on the 23rd Floor

Peter Rowsthorn (pic: Gary Marsh)
Black Swan State Theatre Company
by Neil Simon
Directed by Kate Cherry
Designed by Lauren Ross
With Humphrey Bower, Stuart Halusz, Damon Lockwood, Jo Morris, Ben Mortley, Peter Rowsthorn, Igor Sas, Lara Schwerdt and James Sweeny

Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
Until September 21

We live in a golden age of television comedy, but there was another. And Sid Caesar, as his name suggests, was its king. Caesar, who died early this year, was a masterful comedian with superb comic ideas who gathered around him a pack of talented, ambitious, mainly Jewish, writers to generate a weekly, 90-minute live show, Your Show of Show, that ran over 139 episodes from 1950 to 1954. It dominated the ratings and set many of the parameters for television comedy that still apply today.
You don’t have to spend long on the writer’s floor at NBC in Rockefeller Plaza to hear laughter from other rooms, echoing back down the decades from Seinfeld and 30 Rock.
Neil Simon was one of Caesar’s writers, and this is his love letter to his colleagues, and especially to the unpredictable genius who paid his bills and forged his talent.
For a writer with Simon’s prolific brilliance and life story, the play is a cinch. Put eight comedians in a room, sketch out the times—Joseph McCarthy is shaming the US Senate, Josef Stalin dying in the Kremlin—give them remembered or invented punch lines and let them rip.
You can legitimately accuse Simon of laziness: most of the external storylines peter out, there’s little personal consequence in the central action and there’s a downy sentimental mist over the characters and proceedings. But when everyone’s having this much fun, it’s hard to care very much about it.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cabaret: Christa Hughes

Beer Drinking Woman
Cabaret Soiree
Downstairs at the Maj
11 – 13 September

If I keep banging on about the glorious Christa Hughes, it might encourage more of you to savour her delicious and generous talents. And while her recent shows here were both stonkers, Beer Drinking Woman is her stonkiest, not least because it features many of her own funny, desperate songs.
Starting with her Cheap Thrills, an untidy taste of what’s to come, and the title track, a Memphis Slim blues from 1940 enlivened considerably by Hughes’s deeply impressive beer sculling and gargling expertise, the show range over the peaks and troughs of life on the bottle.

It's her last night in town tonight, and there are some tables left, I'm told. It will be a shame if you aren’t in them.  

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Comedy: The Kransky Sisters

Annie Lee, Christine Johnston and Carolyn Jones
Subiaco Arts Centre


Many of our most memorable comic characters, like Edna Everage and Kath and Kim, come from forgettable suburbs. Aunty Jack, Norman Gunston, Roy and HG hail from unremarkable regional cities and towns. Places, you’d imagine, from which no one would, or could, emerge to make us laugh, let alone think.
No one at all seems to have emerged from Esk, an anonymous little dairy town of seventeen hundred souls 100km north-west of Brisbane. The Wikipedia entry for notable persons from Esk lists a butcher, a WWI pilot and a colonial bishop—and the Kransky Sisters.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Theatre: White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

Perth Theatre Company
Written by Nassim Soleimanpour
Sound and lighting designer Joe Lui
With solo performers, including Sam Longley and Hayley McElhinney
STC Studio until September 13
 

On a black stage there are a wooden stepladder, a chair and a table, on which are placed two glasses of water, a teaspoon and an envelope.
A solo performer enters with a small vial of white powder and opens the envelope.
It contains the script of the Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit, Red Rabbit. The performer hasn’t seen it before and, apart from a very basic briefing (“you will be asked to impersonate an ostrich”), doesn’t know what to expect.
There’s little the spoiler convention allows me to tell you about what happens thereafter, but I can at least explain something of why it does.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Turnstile Awards 2014

Brian May from Queen (r. obscured) congratulates 
Shane Adamczak (l. obscured) on his Turnstiles haul

The Turnstile Awards for excellence in theatre in Perth acknowledge outstanding locally produced (or co-produced) stage shows opening between September and August each year. There’s no set number of Turnstile winners, and no attempt to rank the shows in order of merit.
In the past year, I reviewed 56 eligible productions (a few more than last year) for either or both The West Australian and this blog. To those I missed, my apologies.
Overall, shows I thought well worth seeing outnumbered those I’d have strongly encouraged you to avoid by better than two to one – and there will be shows that didn’t make it to the podium that many of you would have had there.
Many might have just needed one more round of inspiration and polish—in writing, direction and production—to achieve their potential; in a year where over half the productions were new scripts, overwhelmingly from independent producers working with limited time and tiny budgets, that’s hardly surprising, and as encouraging as it is frustrating.   
So, here, in chronological order, are the nine local productions I thought earned a Turnstile:


•   Storm Boy, Barking Gecko’s handsome co-production, with the Sydney Theatre Company, of Colin Thiele’s much-loved novel, was another step forward for our most exciting and ambitious main-stage theatre company.


•    The first of an unprecedented Turnstiles trifecta for the outrageously talented writer and actor Shane Adamczak, the bouncy romcom Trampoline at the Blue Room, directed by Damon Lockwood and also starring Amanda Woodhams and the very funny Ben Russell.


•   Midsummer (A Play with Songs) had the most and best laughs of anything Black Swan staged in the past year, thanks to Georgina Gayler and Brendan Hansen’s performances, Damon Lockwood’s direction and David Greig's often hilarious screw-tightening script.


•    In DIVA, the writer and performer Tiffany Barton and director Helen Doig collaborate to tell the story of a fading opera singer with pungency, tempestuousness and ultimate humanity.


•    Adamczak again, this time incredible as Johnny Rotten in Ben Kalman’s Vicious Circles  the sad, brilliantly performed story of the last days of Sid and Nancy, co-produced by WA’s Weeping Spoon and Canada’s Stadium Tour for the Blue Room’s Summer Nights season at PICA. 


•    Pop-up theatre at its best: F*@k Decaf, Tyler Jacob Jones’s café society comedy, sharply directed by Scott Corbett with star turns by Amanda Watson and Ann-Marie Biagioni, at the Mary Street Café on Beaufort St.


•    Declan Greene’s dark comedy Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography may not live up to its name, but it has plenty of hard drive. Perth comedian Andrea Gibbs delivers a performance to be proud of.


•    Kate Mulvany’s savvy adaptation of Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones. Another faultless step on John Sheedy’s mission to grow Barking Gecko from a children’s theatre to one for young people of all ages.  


•    The stand up comedian Greg Fleet’s impressive debut as a playwright, This is Not a Love Song, at the Blue Room, is a sure-fire singalong hit, and more besides. Fleet performs, as does director Tegan Mulvany and, you guessed it, Shane Adamczak.

So two of this year’s Turnstiles have gone to Barking Gecko and three to productions supported and hosted by this year’s big winner, The Blue Room, which also garnered a swag of honourable mentions, for Nina Pearce’s drama of anxiety and ecstasy Broken Colour, the surprisingly powerful 10,000 Beers, Libby Klysz’s nimble, teasing These Guys, Sarah Young’s sombre, deceptively simple Giving Up the Ghosts and Jeffrey Jay Fowler’s clever, dystopic Second Hands and Elephents, the latter directed by Kathryn Osborne, who also tried her talented hand at opera with the snappy, cleverly-designed The Old Maid and the Thief at the Town Hall. Not such a productive year, though, for the tenants of the State Theatre Centre, with only two Turnstiles between them, although Black Swan’s bucolic, attractive As You Like It and Suzie Miller’s clever, mercifully unportentious Dust also deserve a mention.
Couldn’t find a Turnstile for WAAPA this year, but the adventurous, sexy Realism came close.
A number of independent productions, on top of the Turnstile-winning Diva and F*@k Decaf, made a big impression this year. Helen Doig added an honourable mention to her Turnstile for DIVA with Gertrude Stein and a Companion down at the tiny theatre in Media Alliance building in East Perth, James Berlyn’s Crash Course taught its audience a whole new language at PICA and Adam T Perkins delivered a tour de force performance in The Guys at the Subiaco Arts Centre.

You can read what I had to say about each of the nine Turnstile winners by clicking on their highlighted title. You'll find reviews of the honourable mentions elsewhere on this blog.
Congratulations to them all—let’s see which of them make the podium at the next Perth Equity Guild Awards. 


And, finally, thanks to everyone who visited my little blog over the last year – there’s been nearly 100,000 Turnstylists, and it’s gratifying to know there’s some interest in my humble musings (even if many of them, mysteriously, are from Mountain View, California). Please fire in a comment about the awards, even if it’s just to bag them!

Theatre: Great Expectations

By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Nick Ormerod and Declan Donnellan
Directed by Andrew Lewis
Performed by WAAPA 3rd Year Acting students
Geoff Gibbs Theatre
Until August 28

It’s unsurprising that those two mighty epics of relentless pursuit and ultimate redemption, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, are contemporaneous (the English novel was published in 1861; the other a year later). Neither is it surprising that both were instant and enormous successes, nor that they have generated many successful adaptations, across artforms, in the subsequent century-and-a-half.
This year’s WAAPA Acting graduating class performs the adaptation of Great Expectations by Cheek By Jowl’s Mick Ormerod and Declan Donnellan, first staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2005. It’s a wise choice.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Theatre: This is Not a Love Song

By Greg Fleet
Directed by Tegan Mulvany
Designed by Christian Barratt
Performed by Greg Fleet, Tegan Mulvany, Shane Adamczak and Michael de Grussa

A remarkable thing about the stand up comedian Greg Fleet is how unfunny he is. He doesn’t pull funny faces or do funny voices, and he doesn’t crack jokes. What he does, though, is tell stories about life and its vicissitudes, mixing an audacious combination of logic and absurdity from which the human comedy grows like bread rising in an oven.
Fleet brings this considerable skill to his debut play, This is Not a Love Song, and it’s a cracker. It’s also going to be a runaway hit.

Link here to the complete review on The West Australian website
Amanda Harrison
Accompanied by Bev Kennedy
Downstairs at the Maj
21 - 23 August 2014

If you’re A Star, and used to performing on big stages in green make-up, the little cabaret downstairs at the Maj must be daunting.
To paraphrase the title of Amanda Harrison’s one-woman show, you’re right up close and very personal on that stage. If you wanted to be less naked, you’d take up stripping.
Harrison is first cab off the rank in a cabaret season at the Maj dominated by women, either as performers (including the not-to-be-missed Christa Hughes) or subject matter (Michael Griffiths’ take on Annie Lennox; the story of the lyricist Dorothy Fields). You could do much worse.


Link here to the complete review on The West Australian's website       

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Theatre: Concussion

By Ross Mueller
Ellander Productions
Directed by Sarah McKellar
Designed by Iona McAuley
Performed by Richard Mellick, Nichola Renton, Ian Bolgia, Paul Grabovac, Russya Connor and Danen Engelenberg

Much of the ambitious Australia/UK multi-arts company Ellander Productions’ theatrical output since they launched in 2010 has been decidedly underwhelming.
Concussion (at the Blue Room, directed by Sarah McKellar), though, is much more like it.
They’ve been wise to secure Ross Mueller’s nasty, opportunity-laden play, winner of the 2009 New York New Dramatists award. His story of a cop, Caesar (Richard Mellick), recovering from a savage beating and struggling to remember what happened before, during and after it, could be straightforward enough, but Mueller sets its narrative adrift in time and peoples it with some decidedly unsavoury types. While the result is often gobsmackingly obscene and morally bankrupt, work through all that and there’s quite a bit of wicked fun to be had and something to be said about the human condition in a world hotwired to the net and drowning in pornography.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Theatre: The Seagull

Black Swan State Theatre Company
by Anton Chekhov
adapted by Hilary Bell
Directed by Kate Cherry
Designed by Fiona Bruce
With Adam Booth, Rebecca Davis, Leila George, Michael Loney, Andrew McFarlane, Luke McMahon, Greg McNeill, Sarah McNeill, Ben Mortley and Greta Scacchi

Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
Until August 31
 

This remounting of The Seagull, Anton Chekhov’s great first play, owes much to a modest, approachable adaptation by Hillary Bell, effectively executed by its director, Kate Cherry.
Bell, who has no Russian, has interpreted several
English translations of the play made over the past century—if this sounds like “adaptation by committee”, Bell seems to be happy to live, and Cherry to work, with it.
The result stays loyal to its roots—we remain by a Russian lake, not in an Australian beach house or a Long Island estate. The characters speak in their own accents, but traditional representations of the Russian idiom remain. They are dressed, by the designer Fiona Bruce, as per fin de siècle Russia, and her set, a stripped-down proscenium, is like many that have housed the play in the past 120 years. 
So this Seagull is not spectacular, or edgy, but it is handsome and approachable. If it’s something of museum piece, that’s not the worst charge that can be levelled at a work of its significance in theatre history.



Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Friday, August 8, 2014

Theatre: The Last Confession

By Roger Crane
Directed by Jonathan Church
Set Design by William Dudley
Starring David Suchet, Philip Craig, Donald Douglas and Richard O’Callaghan
His Majesty’s Theatre
Until August 16

The sudden death of the first Pope John Paul, Cardinal Albino Luciani, in September 1978, left a disquieting aftertaste. An apparently healthy man of only 65, barely a month into his papacy, he died in contradictory circumstances, while Vatican scandals lurked in the shadows.
After a whodunnit? This could be a doozy. 
Trouble is, The Last Confession is an awfully convoluted one, constructed around real, well-known, figures of the recent past. That gives its writer, Roger Crane, a lot of work to do, and precious little historical wriggle-room in which to do it.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Theatre: Henry V

By William Shakespeare
Bell Shakespeare
Director Damien Ryan
Designer Anna Gardiner
Lighting designer Sian James-Holland
Composer and sound designer Steve Francis
Featuring Michael Sheasby, Matthew Backer, Drew Livingston, Damien Strouthos, Gabriel Fancourt, Eloise Winestock, Danielle King, Darcy Brown, Keith Agius and Ildiko Susany
Heath Ledger Theatre
until August 26, then at regional centres.
Keith Agius and cast (pic: Michele Mossop)
William Shakespeare wouldn’t be shocked by the horror in Ukraine and Gaza. He had seen into the hearts and minds of those who fire the rockets, those who give the orders, those who fall and those who loot, before, and understood their contents exactly.
His Henry V can easily be seen as a glorious procession and a strident hymn of patriotism, the soul of the idol washed clean with noble blood, but there’s little sanguinity, and much darkness, behind its flash and colour.
The director Damien Ryan works impressively to strip Henry’s glamour away. Setting the play in the temporary schoolroom of a bomb shelter during the London blitz, being performed by students, is a brilliant conceit, bringing its themes of patriotism, idolatry, propaganda and terror into sharp focus.

It’s only been a couple of years since I said Propeller’s testosterone-driven Henry V was the best I was ever likely to see. That’s remains true, but there won’t be many better, or more interesting, than this one.       

Link here to the complete review in the West Australian

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Theatre: Jasper Jones

The novel by Craig Silvey, adapted by Kate Mulvany
Barking Gecko Theatre Company
Directed by John Sheedy
Designed by Michael Scott-Mitchell
Lighting design by Trent Suidgeest
Sound design by Ben Collins
Performed by Shaka Cook, James Beck, Hoa Xuande, Elizabeth Blackmore, Alexandra Jones and Humphrey Bower
State Theatre Centre Studio
Until August 9
Elizabeth Blackmore, Shaka Cook and James Beck (pic Jon Green)

I wish this review was able inspire you to rush out for tickets to Barking Gecko’s Jasper Jones. Sadly, despite its relatively long season (until August 9 in the State Theatre Centre Studio), it’s already all but sold out (extra performances on July 29 and August 4 have been announced).
There’s an obvious reason for this. The novel upon which it is based, by the young West Australian writer Craig Silvey, has been widely admired and wildly popular in the five years since its publication.
Barking Gecko have built a fine reputation – greatly enhanced during John Sheedy’s tenure as its artistic director since 2010 – as it made the ambitious transition from a children’s theatre company to one for young people of all ages.
This wonderful production is the apogee of their achievement so far.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

(Jasper Jones contains some language and themes that might concern parents of children under 14.)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Theatre: Confessions of a Pyromaniac

By Matthew Cooper
Imprint Productions in association with Yirra Yaakin
directed by Shakara Walley
designed by Patrick Howe
Music and lighting by Joe Lui
performed by Mathew Cooper, Calen Tassone, Katya Shevtsov and Stephanie Somerville
Blue Room Theatre
10 - 19 July, 2014
 

While Matthew Cooper’s Confessions of a Pyromaniac (directed by Shakara Walley at the Blue Room Theatre) isn’t in the first rank of Aboriginal theatre, it is undeniably and impressively liberating.
That’s because while three of its characters, and the actors playing them, are Aboriginal, their ethnicity is a subtext, rather than the defining factor in either their personalities or the play’s action.
There’s a continuing conversation about the opportunities for Aboriginal actors to play other than Aborigines; here Cooper inverts the argument by presenting characters who conform to none of the stereotypes, positive or negative, we’ve come to expect in the representation of Indigenous people on stage.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Theatre: Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography

Andrea Gibbs (pic Brett Boardman)
Perth Theatre Company and Griffin Theatre Company
Written by Declan Greene
Composer Rachael Dease
Directed by Lee Lewis
Designer Marg Horwell
Lighting designer Matthew Marshall
Starring Andrea Gibbs and Steve Rodgers
STC Studio until July 12

The title of Declan Greene’s Eight Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography doesn’t tell its story, though it’s not irrelevant to it. What it is about is truth, happiness, and how bitter and elusive they can be.
The play is set in 14 vignettes, each introduced simply by the announcement of the number – co-incidentally an almost identical device to that employed recently in Tyler Jacob Jones’s impressive F*@k Decaf. Like it, Greene’s play flows seamlessly across these divides, often without even stopping for breath, giving his story an impressive momentum throughout the 80-odd minutes it takes to tell.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Theatre: Dust

By Suzie Miller
Black Swan State Theatre Company
Directed by Emily McLean
Designed by Fiona Bruce
Lighting design by Trent Suidgeest
Sound Design and composer James Luscombe
With Benj D’Addario, Charlotte Devenport, Caroline McKenzie, Ben Mortley, Kelton Pell, Nicholas Starte, Alison van Reeken and Gemma Willing
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
28 June – 13 July, 2014

I owe the Black Swan Theatre Company, and the playwright Suzie Miller, something of an apology. As it turns out, Dust, her play that takes place as a cloud of red dust engulfs Perth, is far less portentous and apocalyptic than I feared it would be. It’s also lighter, sweeter and a deal more fun than I expected.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Theatre: Giving Up the Ghosts and 3 Seeds

Giving Up the Ghosts 
By Sarah Young
Owl Productions
Directed by Joe Lui
Designer Sara Chirichilli
Performed by Georgia King and Paul Grabovac

3 Seeds
By Afeif Ismail
Transcreated by Vivienne Glance and Afeif Ismail
Always Working Artists
Directed by Jeremy Rice
Designed by Cherie Hewson
Performed by Violette Ayad, Michelle Endersbee, Paul Grabovac, Janice Lim, Verity Softly, Kevin Mararo Wangai, Brianna Williams

For most of us, suicide is inexplicable. Perhaps, for our own safety, it needs to be. The great strength of Giving Up the Ghosts, the playwriting debut of Sarah Young, is that she doesn’t try to explain the suicidal impulse, or impose insights upon it. Her play, as deceptively powerful as it is deceptively simple, builds a platform for us to attempt to grasp a meaning, or at least some understanding, from suicide’s opaque horror.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Theatre: Realism

By Anthony Neilson
Director Anthony Skuse
Set designer Sarah Duyvestyn
Performed by WAAPA 3rd Year Acting students
Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA
June 13 – 19, 2014


There was something touching about seeing the WAAPA’s 3rd Year Acting students’ production of Realism in the shadow of Rik Mayall’s death. Anthony Neilson, who wrote the play in 2006, is an elder statesman of British “in-yer-face” theatre, and if Realism doesn’t exactly owe a debt to The Young Ones, it’s at least popped next door to cadge some sugar from them occasionally.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Theatre: West Side Story

By Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Robbins
Book by Arthur Laurents
WAAPA 2nd & 3rd Year Music Theatre students
Directed by Crispin Taylor
Music Director David King
Choreographer Lisa O’Dea
Set Design by Steve Nolan
Lighting Design by Mark Howett


Regal Theatre
Until June 21

WAAPA have really chanced their arm for their annual music theatre extravaganza by re-staging the dark and mighty West Side Story.
It’s a phenomenal challenge for a student cast, no matter how talented, but the ability being tested here needs only the experience and hunger that come from years out in the business to master the technique, and harness the passion, that West Side Story demands.

For all that, it’s fantastic to see a great show given a full production with a talented team behind it. This West Side Story confirms that the big WAAPA music theatre show is a wonderful gift to the people of Perth as well as a huge moment for its young performers. May it long continue thus.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Theatre: The House on the Lake

Written by Aidan Fennessy
Directed by Stuart Halusz
Set and costume design by India Mehta
Lighting designer Trent Suidgeest
Sound designer and composer Brett Smith
With Kenneth Ransom and Marthe Rovik
STC Studio
Until June 22

By his own admission, Aidan Fennessy has set himself a difficult challenge with The House on the Lake.
The Melbourne playwright’s sad, powerful, National Interest was the standout in Black Swan’s 2012 season.
He returns with a whodunit with only two characters, one of whom, perforce, is the interrogator (a forensic psychologist, Dr Alice Lowe, played by Marthe Rovik). This leaves only one, David Rail (Kenneth Ransom) to be suspect, witness, red herring, perhaps victim or, perhaps, perpetrator.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Theatre: Rabbithead and Werewolf Priest

Rabbithead
Little y Theatre Company and whatshesaid
Devised and performed by Holly Garvey and Violette Ayad
Narrated by Humphrey Bower
Director Ian Sinclair
Designer Tessa Darcey
The Blue Room
Until July 14

Werewolf Priest
By Levon J Polinelli
Composer Ash Gibson Greig
Designer Reece J Scott,
Performed by Sven Ironside, Siobhan Dow-Hall, Magnus Danger Magnus, Stephen Lee, AJ Lowe and Daniel Buckle
The Blue Room
Until July 7

A few years ago the Blue Room went through a purple patch of domestic comedy/dramas by young, rising artists. House of Fun, Jack + Jill and, in particular, Pride, perfectly suited the precocious talents of their writers, directors and actors, and found inventive ways of saying something genuine about the lives of 20-somethings.
The devisers and performers Holly Garvey and Violette Ayad, working with director Ian Sinclair and Georgia King’s Little y Theatre Company, have returned to that territory with Rabbithead, and it shares many of those earlier productions’ strengths.


Link here to the complete review of both shows in The West Australian

Monday, May 26, 2014

Theatre: As You Like It

by William Shakespeare
Director Roger Hodgman
Set and costume designer Christina Smith
Lighting designer Matt Scott
Composer/Sound designer Ash Gibson Greig
Featuring Brendan Hanson, Luke Hewitt, Brett Dowson, Andy Fraser, Brendan Hanson, Caitlin Beresford-Ord, Geoff Kelso, Nick Maclaine, Greg McNeill, Jovana Miletic, Cecilia Peters, Igor Sas, Grace Smibert, James Sweeny and Steve Turner

Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
Until June 1 

Jovana Miletic and James Sweeney (pic Gary Marsh)
In As You Like It, Shakespeare’s masterpiece of wit and wisdom, the message is clear. What matters is freedom and love, and a play dedicated to them both must, as its beautiful epilogue demands, be forgiven its faults.
Roger Hodgman’s carefree production for Black Swan is a deserving beneficiary of this boon. If its tempo is a little uneven, and if some of its set pieces topple over into silliness (you might not find either the case), these problems are more than compensated by its fealty to the spirit of the play, and the audacity of its staging.
 

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian. And here's an admirable (though far less complimentary) piece from Humphrey Bower. The whole "boy plays girl plays boy" thing is as circular as it is fascinating. It's a nice conundrum for a director to decide when to get off the carousel; Hodgman doesn't stay on it long, and I was happy to dismount with him.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Theatre: Wish

Based on the novel by Peter Goldsworthy

Adapted and directed by Humphrey Bower
Featuring Humphrey Bower, Danielle Micich
With music by Leon Ewing
State Theatre Centre Studio
Until May 31

I've had innumerable conversations with people who utterly disagree with my criticism of Humphrey Bower's Wish. It's now having a second season, this time under the auspices of the Perth Theatre Company at the State Theatre Centre's Studio.
The script for this production has been extended somewhat from the original, which allows the narrative to fill out a little and its concerns to be more developed, but my opinion of the work is essentially unchanged. Here's my review of the original 2011 production at the Blue Room:
 
Wish, the novel by the Australian author Peter Goldsworthy, has been given a graphic and discomforting stage adaptation by the actor and writer Humphrey Bower at the Blue Room Theatre.
The play deserves to be taken seriously, because its author and adaptor/ performers handle its repugnant subject matter with sensitivity and compassion. The problem – a fatal one in my view – is that it has no wider compass. There’s no discernable allegory here. It’s not a fable. Wish doesn’t even really qualify as a cautionary tale. It’s a pity, because Wish is a strongly realised piece, with excellent performances from both its actors. 
Bower is a born storyteller – the entire play is a monologue by his character – and wins our understanding and sympathy from its first moments. Micich gives a compelling performance, her powerful, supple body as expressive as the words her character cannot speak. But there’s the rub; if you replaced her with the “real” character she is playing, the theatre would be soon empty.     
  
Link here to the complete review in The West Australian 

Comedy: Urzila Carlson and Tony Woods

Perth International Comedy Festival
Astor Lounge, Mt Lawley
May 13

If you were to roll up the demographics of the comedy festival’s performers into one package, you’d arrive at someone such as Urzila Carlson, the spirited South African, now New Zealander, lesbian mother – there were healthy contingents of each in her audience – whose stand was the second of the mid-week triple-bill in the Astor Lounge.
I couldn’t say that Tony Woods, who played the late spot in the Lounge, ever deviated much from convention. He’s a seriously funny guy, though, in that louche African-American way that’s as irresistible as it’s slick.


Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Comedy: Frank Woodley and Bob Downe

Perth International Comedy Festival
Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley
Saturday May 10

Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun!
For a combined 50 years, Frank Woodley and Bob Downe have been part of our furniture, and it’s a familiarity that hasn’t bred contempt.
In a double-headed Saturday night at the Astor, in front of two big Comedy Festival audiences, the two veteran comedians showed why.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Theatre: Elephents

By Jeffrey Jay Fowler
The Last Great Hunt
Directed by Kathryn Osborne
Designed by Tarryn Gill
Lighting design by Chris Isaacs
Performed by Gita Bezard, Adriane Daff, Jeffrey Jay Fowler, Pete Townsend and Brett Smith.
Blue Room until May 18

Daff, Fowler, Bezard and Townsend (pic: Jamie Breen)
Jeffrey Jay Fowler knows his way round dystopia. In Second Hands, his recent Fringe World outing, humankind had taken vanity and materialism to a horrific extreme. In Elephents the extremity at which we have arrived is apocalyptic, not merely cosmetic.
We are introduced to it in bite-sized pieces. People entering the various dwellings in which the play is set automatically dry off the sweat with towels left by the door for the purpose. Sometimes their clothes are singed. We hear of things combusting spontaneously. Umbrellas are lead-lined. The climate is to die for.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Comedy: Paul Foot


Perth International Comedy Festival
Mt Lawley Bowling Club
Until May 4

My first encounter with Paul Foot, at the Opening Gala of last year’s Perth International Comedy Festival, left me quite literally helpless with laughter. On that occasion, his magnificent, surreal diatribe about sinister vans, and glasses that can make them disappear, quite did me in.
He’s not for everyone. Sometimes his physical comedy is more convulsive than compulsive, once in a while his humour is so deep rooted that it’s hard to get at. There were some at his sold out show who sat stony-faced as he careered way over their heads.
But, and much more often, you’d suddenly hear defenceless, almost whimpering, laughter as this singular comedian got someone, like me, right between the eyes. 

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian       

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Theatre: Uncle Jack

By Ross Lonnie
Directed by Soseh Yekanians
Performed by Quintin George and Ben Hall
The Blue Room Theatre
Until May 10

Coming soon after the powerful, theatrically innovative The Long Way Home, Ross Lonnie’s Uncle Jack (directed by Soseh Yekanians at the Blue Room) continues the heightened interest in soldiers, and soldiering, we can expect through WWI centenary observances over the next five years.
Lonnie’s work is much more traditional, but contemplates the same brutal equation: If men are changed by war – and how could they not be – then how can we expect them to return unchanged, as if nothing had happened?