© 2023 by Glorify. Proudly created with Wix.com

 Squids Theatrical Inc CATS!

 

By Pauline Smith

 

CATS

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Based on “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot

Directed by Nathanial Currie

Presented by Squids Theatrical Inc

Redcliffe Cultural Centre

 

Season: 15-23 MaBokkings: (07) 3283 0407 or Redcliffe.culturalcentre@moretonbay.qld.gov.au 

 

It is the night of the Jellicle Ball and all the jellicles have come together to celebrate and await the choosing of the one who gets to be reborn by ascending to the Heaviside Layer. More than thirty years later since its original opening on West End, London in 1981, CATS is still going strong, having been performed by many a professional and amateur theatre company around the world. And, Squids Theatrical is the latest in that long line.

CATS is my favourite musical, this being the fourth time I have seen it – twice professionally and the last time back in 2007 by Harvest Rain, so it has been a long drought for me. But last night’s performance by Squids brought back all the lovable characters and songs, ably performed by a cast of very talented people, and I find myself singing all the songs again this morning.

The cast was a catalogue of talent – whether that be acting, singing or dancing. The stand-out was Cara Duffield who played Victoria (the white kitten). Her dancing was used to its potential and it was hard to take your eyes off her on stage. Andrew Quant was well cast as Bustopher Jones; Byron Philp a wonderful Skimbleshanks; James Whiting an excellent Munkustrap and John Chant as magical Mr Mistoffelees. The two cheeky cats – Mungojerry and Rumpleteazer – were played by two girls (instead of a male/female pairing) – Rebel Bliss and Genevieve Tree. Their costumes were similar colourings suggesting they were of the same litter and with the choreography and their voices for their duet, it was simply so good.

Rum Tum Tugger has always been a favourite of mine and he was ably portrayed by Mike Lapot who ‘Elvis-fied’ him to a tee, gyrating those hips and making all the female cats crazy. Voices who really impressed on stage were Naomi Drogemuller as Grizabella, Jim Price as Old Deuteronomy, Bethany Eloise as Griddlebone – her duet with Growltiger was very funny as they try to out caterwaul each other. In fact, the whole ensemble really had the sound down that it was like listening at times to the original Australian cast CD.

One of the things I really liked with this production too, was all the kittens on stage – played by the Junior Ensemble. This is such a great way to get kids involved in theatre early and what a wonderful musical to be involved in. The kittens were not just merely decoration either – taking their parts as Jennyanydots’s mice and beetles, and as the pekes and pollicles in the Great Rumpus Cat song.

The set (designed by Janine Aberle) was not as elaborate as other productions have been, but it was perhaps restricted due to the size of the stage, but it was extremely functional. It set was the classical junkyard with the Russell Hotel sign rising to ‘skyscraper’ heights at stage right. There were a few truck tyres, the ‘cotton reels’ that cables come on, and an oven, all placed and stacked cleverly to provide so many nooks and crannies for cats to crawl out of.

As well as a variety of other junk that created the overall effect. A couple of very large pieces, at both sides of the stage, also pulled out to create Growltiger’s barge and Skimbleshanks’s train, with the help of an cat-twirling umbrella frame as the front wheel.

The costume designs were as expected for the main characters – the body hugging cloth - which turned out to be some sort of spongey material, with patches of fur rather than spray painted lycra; the wigs, the elaborate makeup, each individualised for every cat; and a range of other accessories such as belts, tiaras, tutus.

I particularly liked Jennyanydots’s costume, apart from the one she wore for her song, which looked a bit like she had become stuck in a Chinese lantern. Maybe she had! The makeup team also had their job cut out for them with the number of cats that were on stage and was well done on the whole. The only one I felt needed to be better was Grizzabella – from where I was sitting in the audience her face lost all effect and all you could see was a white face with a black nose.

The music provided by the ten piece orchestra led by Musical Director, Julie Whiting was spot on, a tad loud at times as some of the singing and the tap dancing was drowned out.

Overall, this is a good show, worthy of the hard work and effort put in by those on stage and those working behind the scenes.

 

The Reality Event – Suicide

By Nahima Kern

 

The Reality Event – Suicide

The Suicide Ensemble

Produced by Nathan Booth

Bean Café

Brisbane City

 

Season:  May 7 – 23 .  $15, 60 mins duiration (MA15+) Bookings: http://anywherefest.com/brisbane

 

“MY first instinct here is to apologise. But I’m not writing this to apologise…If I’ve learned anything from the creation of this event, it’s that people love to be scared.”

This was written by Daniel Gough, facilitator of Suicide in the program notes.

This message became – to me, in any case - the underlying mantra of this production.

Suicide is a dark topic; it is in no way supposed to be taken lightly. There is no way to dispute that. This production seems to have sought to explore this theme and bring out the bare truth of Suicide and present it to the audience.

 Presented by the Suicide Ensemble, Suicide created a voyeuristic piece that shattered the traditions of theatre and brought a production that was new and perhaps a precursor to what theatre is about to become.

It was also incredibly intimate; which is a word that I will be using a lot when it comes to this piece, because it truly came across as the embodiment of this production. The more I watched the show, the more chilling it became – which was apparently the point Gough made in his notes, right?

Upon entering the space, were we given a disclaimer that the piece was graphic and violent, which is suppose to mean that we were given the choice to see the show and by doing so, digging ourselves a proverbial hole and forcing ourselves to lie in it.

In fact, the audience was given a choice at the beginning of the show, to leave when we wanted to, should we find the content too much.

The general plot of the piece was simple, through the heavy use of audience participation each performer was chosen and voted for, and thus having been chosen, proceeded to ‘take’ their own lives with items that were also voted for by the audience. I have to add here that the audience was able to voice comments during the production as well, which added to this element of audience participation, and a causal ambiance that the production exuded.

There were quiet moments where causal conversation was had by the performers, but it was not the focus of the story. It was such a simple plot, that it was almost completely lost, and indeed didn’t seem to exist at all; which again, according to the program notes, was something that was intended.

This choice of plot structure added to the intimacy of the whole piece. The Suicide Ensemble were each incredibly realistic to the point where it became ambiguous as to whether they were actually committing the act, rather than acting. It sent frissions of fear crawling down my spine. The ensemble should be congratulated then, for evoking such a reaction in me. The fear was exhilarating.

What I liked most about the production was the space. The lighting and set design was incredibly simple, with lights at the periphery of the space and the house lights were not dimmed.

The production was at the Bean café on George Street, Brisbane city and provided an ambiance that was really close and again, intimate. I have never been to a café to see a show and was greatly pleased by the novelty of the whole thing. The audience was able to file in and chose from a small number of seats and even were given the choice to get up and order drinks at the counter during the duration of the show.

This, again, added a very casual element to the production, which created an unusual layer to the piece which I cannot quite name. Perhaps this casual attitude created a sense of levity to the show which in turn made it all the more chilling. The audience as also seated quite close to the edge of the performance space which made the content all the more confronting.

In summation, suicide, created and presented by the Suicide Ensemble was a dark, graphic and gritty piece that broke down the boundaries of traditional theatre. It presented a piece that was intimate, voyeuristic, and terrifying.

If this is the kind of theatre that is starting to emerge, then it will be very interesting indeed to see in which direction modern theatre is headed.  

 

La Soiree

By Eric Scott

 

La Soiree

Executive Producer Brett Haycock

Playhouse Theatre stage

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank

​Brisbane

 

Season:  7 to 24 May. Duration two hours ten minutes with interval.

Bookings: qpac.com.au or call 136 246

 

Following sell out seasons at last year’s Brisbane Festival, La Soirée returned to Brisbane to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the troupe’s first show.

And what a rip-snorter of a show it was; it was a show that left the audience gasping with excitement or breathless with laughter as act after brilliant act added extras twists to classic circus routines and burlesque. Not to mention the sexy torch singing puppets and aerial striptease acts.

I had an absolute ball. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every act on view and for most of the time I sat with a permanent grin on my face or with my jaw dropping in awe.

On top of all the glitz, the seating experience itself was totally different for the production took place on the Playhouse stage. The cavernous space was transformed into an intimate salon-style circus space, with the audience seated ringside, stalls and, at the back, the bleachers. And there was a working bar!

As we took our spots in the ringside seats I was surprised to see the tiny, raised circular stage where all the on-ground action was to take place. It did not leave much room for mistakes, but then highly accomplished, slick and amazingly strong performers didn’t make any, well any that weren’t deliberate.

Montreal’s Cabaret Decadanse opened the show with simple but amazing puppet cabaret singers that were brought realistically to life by Serge Deslauriers and André-Anne Leblanc.

There were a couple of beautifully skilful clumsy performers who had the audience screaming with laughter. For instance Captain Frodo, who is the son of a famous Norse magician, was hilarious as the fell about the stage and even off it as he knocked over microphones and a stool while contorting his body into crazy positions to squeeze through a pair of tennis racquets. His second act performance was even weirder and just as funny.

Nate Cooper, chaos on roller skates, again had the audience screaming with laughter as he tap-danced drunkenly on wheels while threatening to juggle machetes.

More laughs came from Mario Queen of the Circus, the ultimate Queen fan in his Freddy Mercury leathers and moustache as he joked, juggled and brought the audience to its feet by insisting they sing along with We are the Champions. Then he trusted himself to be carried mosh pit style around the arena on the hands of the audience. That was well above the call of duty.

The “sexual gentleman” Asher Treleaven, showed why he is one of Australia’s most critically-acclaimed comedians. His patter was racy, sexual, and very, very funny as he teased the audience with words and his Diablo. Funniest part of the night was his reading from a “Mills and Boon:” romance. It was hilarious and rude enough to make E. L. James blush.

Tanya Gagné one half of New York’s burlesque duo, The Wau Wau Sisters came in dressed as a bloke and then proceeded climb onto the trapeze, do elaborate tricks and then strip down to an underwear clad, very much a woman.

Australian circus star Jess Love added new twist to hula hooping and did amazing tricks with a skipping rope while David and Fofo from Sweden spat ping pong balls at each other – and what is more caught them in their mouths and all the time doing balance and strength tricks.

But for maximum strength it was the English Gentlemen, Denis Lock and Hamish McCann who performed unbelievable feats of acrobatic skill, strength and balance, They also had the women cheering when they showed of ripped bodies and stripped down to union jack undies. Hamish McCann’s one-of-a-kind pole routine was more than amazing, It was one of the best acts of physical strength I have seen.

There was more for the girls as 'Bath Boy' with a combination of wet jeans and soaked body soared close to the audience spreading water and awe with his aerial.

It was an awesome, not to be forgotten night.

 

Argus

By Eric Scott

 

Argus

A QTC/Dead Puppet Society production

Directed by David Morton

Bille Brown Studio

South Brisbane

 

Season: May 5-17. Bookings:QTIX 136 246 or www.qpac.com.au

 

I am a great fan of The Dead Puppet Society. It has walkways intrigued me with dark tales and clever puppetry combined with the human element to create fascinating entertainment.

But Argus, designed and directed by David Morton, is something completely different and challenging.

There were no giant puppets, or mysterious figures behind doors, in fact there were no puppets at all. Four puppeteers, Nathan Booth, Laura Hague, Matthew Seery and Anna Straker created the story and characters in this 45 minute show simply by using their hands. They used them individually and collectively to create the hero, an ET-like figure, his love, and many other creatures on land, air and sea. They performed in full audience view inside an angled circle that was mood-lit very nicely buy Jason Glenwright

Argus loses his love and searches for her, going through innumerable adventures, battling sharks and pirates, car crashes and many weird and wonderful creatures, until the inevitable happy ending.

The puppeteers added life to the characters with squeals, grunts, and sometimes plaintiff mewing to express various moods. The story was funny and sad – winning chuckles and the occasional “ahh” from the audience.

It is a very family oriented show, with cuteness to entertain the children and deeper emotions to keep the adults occupied and amused.

And the action was enhanced movie-style by the classy four-piece Topology outfit – John Babbage, composer and saxophone, Robert Davidson, double bass and bass guitar, Therese Milanovic, piano and Christa Powell, violin.

It is an intimate production that was lost in the huge space of the Bille Brown Studio stage area. It is also a forward-facing production, so people in the side seats, like I was, had a distorted view.

Argus himself, a brilliant and fluid arrangement of hands and fingers from the four puppeteers, became broken and often disappeared into obvious hands and that destroyed the illusion for me.

I think the production will work better in a more compact space.

For me, a regular theatre-goer who concentrates a lot on faces on stage, the unmasked faces of the puppeteers were a distraction. The dimensions of the faces, which were always in the light, were roughly the same as the hands.

I found my eyes often straying from the hands to the faces too often. It would be better if the faces had been masked.

I spoke abut this to the puppeteers after the show who told me that masked faces had been workshopped at some previous performances but they found that the children to whom the show is basically aimed responded better to faces. They just didn’t like dark figures in the background.

The show, after its Brisbane run is off on an Australian tour and then sets off for a visit to America. It will be interesting to mark its progress.

 

 

The 39 Steps

By Eric Scott

 

The 39 Steps

Inspired by John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock

Adapted by Patrick Barlow

From an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon

Directed by Greg Scurr

Brisbane Arts Theatre

Petrie terrace

Brisbane

 

It was only last October when I saw the professional version of this play and then I laughed so much I said I might have to see it again to fully appreciate its hilarious absurdities.

So I went along to the Arts Theatre version wondering how the show would stack up so close to the other.  But it is a very funny script and the cast milked the show of its laughs of every kind, subtle gags, old groaners, slapstick and sophisticated physical comedy manoeuvres

Part of the fun of the original was that all the 70-odd characters were played by four actors. The Arts Theatre added three more to spread the load, but to be honest I didn’t really notice because the characters, some very silly others even sillier, were all well played

Jonathon Devitt was a terrific Hannay. He was tall, rangy and I loved the little curl over his eyebrow. It was a very 1930s look. His costume too was right in period. He was a delightfully simple hero, a man thrown in at the deep end who somehow managed to stay afloat.

The use of simple props and some imagination (who could forget the escapes through windows) worked wonders on the many, many scene changes; I particularly enjoyed the strangely realistic train ride and the escape by hanging onto the carriage exterior.

This was a combination of great work from, Devitt, Damien Campagnolo, who also brought the house down as the weirdly bearded Scotsman Mr McGarrigle, Dom Tennison, again a man of many parts - he played three roles in that scene as well as the short-fingered villain, and Tamara McLaughlin as the cool and beautiful blonde heroine Pamela.

Despite the comedy send-up the script actually follows the movie plot closely.

Hero Richard Hannay meets a mysterious woman, Annabella Schmitt, played sinisterly enough by Tanya McCall, who reveals a plot to smuggle British military secrets out of the country at a time when war is imminent. That night, she is murdered in his apartment.

This brings on one of the funniest sequence in the show. Hannay, very gentlemanly give his bed to Frau Schmitt while he sleeps in his armchair. His guest collapses dead across his legs and Hannay then spends several minute trying to extricate himself from the situation with hilarious results. This one scene I thought might have run on for a little longer.

Then he is on the run with the cops and spies hot on his heels as he races into the unknown to solve the mystery of the professor with the missing fingertip, the tune he can’t get out of his head and how vaudeville act Mr. Memory fits into the whole scheme of things.

I don’t know how they did it, but among all comedy the cast managed to slip in some genuine suspense too.

Where Devitt had to keep up the old stiff upper lip bravado, Campagnolo  and Tennison, along with Donnie Baxter and Darren King had their heads full of weird and wonderful people.

The train ride was a classic example. With a change of hat and accent, within the scene, they became plum-toned businessmen, an inaudible paper seller, a porter, a pair of cops and a couple of spies as well as badly dressed Scots husband and wife – and bearded Darren King brought the house down when he appeared in drag in the house of the mastermind with the missing fingertip.

Director Greg Scurr opened the show with the screen intro of the 1935 Hitchcock movie that starred Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. It was a nice idea, but I felt it should have stopped before introducing the movie cast and the director, after all none of the people named were in the play. It just seemed a bit pointless.

I was irritated at times too by the many blackouts at scene changes. They went on too long and slowed down the action in a play that is supposed to in constant movement, but the actors did well and I’m sure that anyone seeing the play for the first time will have a lot of fun.

 

Samson

By Eric Scott

 

Samson

By Julia Rose-Lewis

La Boite/Belvoir Theatre Company Production

Roundhouse Theatre

Kelvin Grove

Brisbane

 

Season:  April 17-May 2. Bookings: 07 3007 8600 or www.laboite.com

 

This is a first-time play about teenagers from a new playwright that has leapt into mainstage production. At its premiere the production won whistles, cheers, and lots of applause from a mainly appreciative audience.

It’s about four youngsters from a poor socio-economic background; a white girl, an Aboriginal boy, an African girl and an Asian boy who, for various reasons are stuck in a tiny town somewhere on the edge of society. Samson of the title is dead: he broke his neck while doing a dope-on-a-rope trick over a not-deep-enough creek.

He is mourned by Beth the African girl who fancied herself as his girlfriend and has set up a shrine to his memory. Sid, the Asian boy is in love with Beth and has his own problems

Essie is the white girl who has left school, has no job, no hope, and is full of teen angs. She is sort of  courted by Aboriginal Boy Rabbit. He is new to town and everyone is suspicious and resentful of his presence. Beth and Essie are best friend – but Essie has a secret: she knows that Beth’s dream lover was gay but has never been brave enough to tell her.

So we have a contrived group of teens who say “fuck” four or five times in every sentence. This might be an easy way to write “authentically” but does create a very boring and lack-lustre script in which all the characters sound alike.

Oddly enough for all the profanity and bad behaviour none of them have had a sexual encounter.

There is no real story, not beginning and no ending. The play is basically a series of encounters between the four, some tender some violent, some playful and some spiteful.

Despite the appreciation of the audience, the play lost me, possibly because a lot of the dialogue was spoken in “teen-speak” which, as anyone who has spent time working with teenagers will know, is incomprehensible to anyone other than a young teenager.

The dialogue was spoken too fast for my ears and many of Benjamin Creek’s words - he played APCA graduate Rabbit - were lost in the in-the-round format. That was a pity because he was one of the most convincing characters on show. Maybe director Kristine Landon-Smith might have spent more time on his vocal projection

I am aware that bad language is common today with teenagers, in fact the F word isn’t even considered to be swearing any more, but while the dialogue might be realistic, it is shallow and highly repetitive.

The young actors performed well with what they had. Ashleigh Cummings, well known for her TV work, played Essie, the town rebel who liked to dress in unflattering clothes and is a soft touch underneath her outward toughness.

Belinda Jombwe made an interesting Beth and gave a strong performance as did Charles Wu as Sid.

This is a play that should resonate with schoolchildren and older teenagers who would recognise the characters as their peers and associate with them, but for older theatre-goers like me, it might be a bridge too far. I just couldn’t relate to the characters on stage and soon lost interest in the teenage whingeing.

 

The Devil Wears Leigh Buchanan

By Eric Scott

 

 

The Devil Wears Leigh Buchanan

Presented by Brisbane Powerhouse and Troy Armstrong Management

Visy Theatre

Brisbane Powerhouse

New Farm

 

 Season ends with 9 pm show on Saturday April 18. Tickets: $36. Bookings: www.brisbanepowerhouse.org Box Office: (07) 3358 8600

 

Could Leigh Buchanan be Australia’s answer to Julian Clary? That is a question that entered my head as I watched him perform at the Brisbane Powerhouse last night. There is a similarity between Leigh and the English comedian, an appeal in the honesty of a performance that is not restricted to a gay audience. He is a very likeable naughty boy.

 He is an openly gay comic, a cheeky devil in Katherine Hepburn trousers, sparkly stilettos and a pair of red horns on his head. He has good comic timing; witty patter, sometimes dry and sometimes cutting, and always ready with a sharp ad lib. The audience loved his performance.

He is also has strong singing voice that he uses well in his comedy (The Little Drummer Boy will never sound the same again!) and is an excellent mimic in song. (Judy Garland was the standout for me).

This short season is a repeat of a previous production at the Powerhouse and this fashion designer, dressmaker and dresser brought back a host of obvious fans. It was the first time for me and I laughed a lot during the one-hour performance, He has an engaging on-stage persona as he tells stories from his life as the odd one out in a traditional family in Ipswich.

He has some funny stories, some poignant yarns too – and a host of outrageous claims to family fame and lack of fortune with tales of adoption and celebrity parents and back stage birth, all told with amazing sincerity.

We hear if him picking flowers while the other boys played cricket or football, of  his failed attempts to get onto Australian Idol and his success in Project Runway Australia  where he was a runner up in series one which aired last year.

He is a gem of a storyteller.

He sprinkles his at with a few jabs at fashion giants of the past, has fun with TV celebrities, and adds a sprinkle of sex and good old-fashioned double entendres. Sometimes it was old-time vaudeville comedy, a bit bawdy, tongue in cheek rude but never offensive like so many stand-up comedians that pepper the festivals these days. There was the occasional four letter word, but his is not an act that depends on bad language for laughs.Leigh Buchanan is a funny man and a lot fun to watch on stage,

 

 

Humble Boy

By Charlotte Jones

Directed by Gary O’Neill

Centenary Theatre Group

Chelmer

 

By Eric Scott

 

Season: March 7-28. Chelmer Community Centre, corner of Queenscroft & Halsbury Streets, Chelmer. Bookings: on-line at www.centenarytheatre.com.au  or phone 0435 591 720

 

This is an award winning play from the UK from 2001.

Felix Humble returns home for the funeral of his biologist father, and much to his chagrin finds that a swarm of honey bees, his father’s pride and joy, has been sold off and the hive is empty.

Felix is an odd-bodd; an overweight, pony-tailed physicist who is reduced to childhood stuttering in the presence of his overbearing, self-centred mother, Flora. The ghost of Felix’s father, Jim, happy in his gardening gear, appears and tries to give his son some advice on life and talks about roses and bees.

The patio set is a terrific piece of work and Eliot Price’s lighting plot lit it beautifully.

Felix is a research fellow in theoretical physics and is searching for something called a “unified field theory" - though at the moment he's having trouble sorting it all out

Into this dysfunctional trio comes George, a garishly dressed, foul-mouthed spiv who is set on marrying the new widow as soon as possible and his daughter, single mother Rosie, who was once Felix’s girlfriend.

Of course friction abounds and the middle is the gentle Mercy, a long time family friend of Flora who tends the cop the brunt of Flora’s brittle temper.

Gary O’Neill as gathered in all the usual suspects for his play – Beverley Wood plays Flora, Brian Cannon is Jim, and John Grey is George. O’Neill likes to work with people he has known for a long time.

Beverley Wood is a very elegant lady on stage and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why she was having an affair with the repugnant George, unless she had a Lady Chatterley complex. I couldn’t connect the characters at all.

And George hates Felix for dumping his little girl seven years ago when she was pregnant, although there is no paternity claim on the young man. However Rosie, played nicely by Katie Dowling, doesn’t seem to care much as she keeps trying to get into his pants.

Brian Cannon’s gentle soul Jim wanders in and out of the action unseen by anyone but Felix and adds a certain amount of confusion, while Penny Murphy’s Mercy is a nicely befuddled softy.

The friction all comes to a head when Flora invites everyone to lunch, Felix can’t stand the idea of his mother marrying George, especially announcing the engagement a short while after the funeral. He does a lot of academic spouting; Rosie throws in her little snippets of info while poor Mercy is verbally abused by Flora. In the middle is some very funny business with Dad’s ashes.

 It all ends in a man-battle between George and Felix and Flora chatting with Jim’s ghost.

It was difficult to hear some of Jason Nash’s dialogue at the back of the hall. The buzzing of the bees and the great swing music often drowned out the voices and it was a warm night and the hum of the fans distorted the mainly excellent diction that came from the stage

The actors played their roles well, but to me they never seemed connected, solo performance almost and a lot of the play itself baffled me, although there were many truly funny lines that were well delivered, especially by the acid-tongued Flora

I didn’t warm to the play itself.

It was very wordy, fairly static and the characters unreal and yet vaguely familiar.

I didn’t read the program until after the show and, had I read it I might have understood it better. The entire action came straight from Hamlet: The mad son, the ghostly father, the mother’s new lover, a distracted daughter…

But then I have a view that if the play needs to be explained beforehand it can’t be that good a play. Humble Boy might have won prizes, but I thought the cast deserved something better to work with.

 

Mother & Son

By Geoffrey Atherton

Directed by Roger Hodgman

Presented by Queensland Theatre Company

Produced by Joint Ventures/Lascorp Entertainment/Fractured Limbs

Playhouse Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank

Brisbane

 

By ERIC SCOTT

 

Season: February 18-March 15

Running time two hours 10 minutes including interval

 

This is a nostalgic trip down TV Memory Lane and the packed Playhouse audience loved it. They applauded scene ends and laughed a lot. They also appreciated a fine cast of actors who played the Beare family with Noeline Brown who recreated Ruth Cracknell’s Maggie Beare, Darren Gilshenan cloned Gary McDonald’s Arthur Beare the put-upon son, and Rob Carlton and Nicki Wendt were number one son randy dentist Robert and yuppie wife Liz.

It didn’t take long for the mind to replace the originals with the new guys and slide comfortably into the world of Maggie who is suffering the early signs of dementia and the troubles she caused with her forgetfulness.

We alternated between frustration and pity for poor Arthur; enjoy a unique love-hate relationship with the selfish but practical Liz, and laugh at the brazen womanising antics of Robert. And we truly understood why he doesn’t think he has done anything worth retribution.

There is a very mixed reaction from men and women in the audience on this point!

All the traits of the TV characters are carried nicely through from the pen of their creator Geoffrey Atherton, who brought them together as a full-length stage play.

The plot is flimsy and has a heavy reliance on telephones both mobile and landline for plot advancement and laughs. Basically is about Arthur’s emancipation, which he is trying to achieve with the help of this delightfully hearty girlfriend Anita, played with bouncy energy by Rachael Beck.

Anita has a disabled brother she happily looks after. It is a match made in heaven.

Robert is in deep trouble over an affair with his hygienist Sharon (conducted only in his dentist’s chair): “It’s not an affair,” he protests, “it’s just sex.”

Some sexting on his secret mobile surfaces and all hell breaks loose, and this provides some vintage angry wife lines from Nicki Wendt’s very convincing Liz. I really enjoyed Nicki’s performance as she battled it out with Robert; her delivery was incisive and beautifully barbed.

Rob Carlton too was a delight to watch as he turned what could be a nasty character into a likeable rogue who twisted and turned even more than a Canberra pollie. There were a few pollie jokes in the show too that brought some big laughs.

Noeline Brown’s Maggie was a vintage performance with her meandering mind and her pointed well-remembered bits of her past and present and Darren Gilshenan’s Arthur seemed to have developed a bit more backbone since the TV series ended. Good for him, we thought.

But with the odds stacked against him, we wondered if he ever would get on his holiday, let alone get married.

There are two more characters in the play, Karen, the social worker, played by Sharon Davis, who is checking to see if Maggie would qualify for respite care every now and then. She plays a delightful scene where Maggie thinks she is having some sort of exam and has to give the correct answer.

The other is Monica, queen of the respite centre, played so well by Robyn Arthur, in another funny scene when Maggie goes along to check out the place.

Some very funny scenes were played out on a video screen as Skype chats between Maggie, her son and daughter-in-law, and her grandchildren.

It was an unchallenging night of light entertainment, but for me there were a few flaws. The play felt like the 1980s, the costumes looked like the 1980s, but the set and the heavy reliance mobile phones made it a contemporary play and that for me sent mixed messages. I reckon it should have been a pure period piece.

 I also didn’t go for the opening scene where Maggie was climbing a ladder to change a light bulb in what would have been at least a fifteen foot ceiling. After the scene the light disappeared never to be seen again. It seemed a lot of trouble for a small joke.

I found it fun, but not huge fun.

 

Boston Marriage

By David Mamet

Directed by Andrea Moo

Queensland Theatre Company

Playhouse Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank

Brisbane

 

 

Three women, posh set, posh frocks, a sprinkling of “shocking” language and laughs a million just about sums up the Boston Marriage opening night. Mamet’s comedy of lesbian love, deceit, and misadventure is a nice, sweet two hours long including interval, which is needed to recharge the laughing batteries.

The setting of the play of course is in Boston, USA, at the turn of the 19th century, among the upper classes. A Boston Marriage is the genteel way of referring to a relationship between two females that may involve both physical and emotional intimacy, according to Wikipedia

We have Anna, the slightly overblown rose, who is entertaining a gentleman friend, whose gifts help pay for her lavish lifestyle. Included in those gifts is a beautiful jewelled necklace. This is Amanda Muggleton at her best. Is there nothing she can’t play? She is gorgeously over the top, with melodramatic rants, hair-tearing despair, and the cunning of a feral cat.

She had her rooms redecorated because her erstwhile lover Claire is to return from a trip and she wants to impress – and keep her alongside - and so wears the expensive necklace to impress her lover.

But Claire is not particularly impressed and has other ideas about their relationship. The highly sexy, self absorbed miss confesses that she is in love with a young girl and has moved on from her older lover. She dismisses Anna’s protestations of love and loyalty and says she has invited her new love to Anna’s place for an assignation so she can consummate her lust. This is a perfectly timed performance from Rachel Gordon.

After protestations, sometime loud, sometimes muttered and sometimes spluttered, Anna agrees, provided she can watch the seduction.

They are a truly naughty duo and both actors revel in the characters and the poetic lines of David Mamet’s script, which is wordy, but sharp in observation and wit. The language nuances demand American accents and that is what we got – except they were more, they were nicely authentic Brahmin Boston accents; which mean they related to the truly upper classes.

They were understandable and convicting, which is a great tribute to Dialect Coach Melissa Agnew who coaxed a difficult accent from the actors.

Of course true love, lust or even simple loose living never run smoothly and the plot develops almost into farce as the two conniving women try to save their livelihood, reputations, and even a prison term for Anna.

We never see the unfortunate new lovers, but we don’t need to, the words paint a vivid picture of them.

Now as if these two manic characters aren’t enough to keep you laughing enter Katherine, the maid from the Outer Hebrides.

 She is such a comic character she could have some straight from a Noel Coward comedy. She is used and abused by the women, seduced by the stove repairman and, as played by Helen Cassidy, steals every scene she is in.

Her accent once again is authentic and her timing is immaculate. It is a beautifully written role, expertly played for its entire comic worth. There is a well balanced mix of design, lights, and sound from Steven Curtis, David Walters and Phil Hagstrom to create an enjoyable atmosphere on stage and of course the costumes were stunning and authentic down to the buttons.

It was a perfect opening to an interesting-looking Queensland Theatre Company season. It plays until February 15 before going on a tour of regional Queensland.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare

Adapted and directed by Benjamin Schostakowski

La Boite Theatre Company

Roundhouse Theatre

Kelvin Grove

Brisbane

 

By ERIC SCOTT

 

This interpretation would have Shakespeare turning in his grave – turning in laughter that is! Talented young director Benjamin Schostakowski took the fantasy and reworked it so he could use a cast of six, while turning Puck into a disembodied voice. The show was more vaudeville than classic and exhilaratingly insane.

It might have had the purists shaking their heads but the tale was so accessible that there we pre-teen kids chortling away at the action and the house was in a constant uproar of laughter as the three competing storylines played themselves out through slapstick, pratfalls, double takes, mugging and some amazing comic timing that made Shakespeare’s words sound completely new.

I laughed myself silly.

The first act ran for 95 minutes, but it sped by as one comic moment succeeded another, so the 45 minute second act as the world righted itself again seemed like a sort sketch.

The setting was not a forest glade either; it was a 1970s suburban home that Dann Barber  created and furnished in period style and had it built solidly on a thrust stage with a much-used staircase and four doors that were opened and closed with farcical regularity. Costumes too were modern - or should I say op-shop fashion - and the wigs were well used and obviously comic tatty. But they did help differentiate between characters. Jason Glenwright conceived a complex and atmospheric lighting plot

So, we had Titania and Oberon/Hippolyta/Theseus and their wedding plans, the four lovers – Helena, Lysander, Hermia and Demetrius. Then the actors doubled up as the Rude Mechanicals. It was a tough job, but the cast executed Schostakowski’s crazy ideas with total dedication  and as the Bard also said” all well that ends well”, and end well it did to thunderous applause.

Helena was played beautifully by Emily Burton. She was a completely modern character with her finger pointing and arm waving as she relentlessly pursued Demetrius. Meanwhile Hermia is in love with Lysander and freaks out when her father demands she marry Demetrius.

Demetrius was played by African Australian Pacharo Mzembe with hujs own comedy style and was hilarious as Flute, as he dressed in a sort of tribal costume and then whites up his face to play the girl. It was clever casting and a top performance.

Kathryn Marquet romped happily around in all manner of costumes as Hermia and Starveling, winning all her laughs and a bearded Kieran Law was Lysanda. Now there was another great performance particularly when he switched characters to play Bottom. What a great “bad” actor and marvellous clown he turned out to be. One of the hit scenes of the night was the bath scene with Titania. You have to see it to believe it.

The adults were played with aplomb by the thoroughly experienced Brian Lipson, who boomed his way through the lines – and of course Titania/Hippolyta was played by Christen O’Leary who morphed her way perfectly through her roles from the desperate housewife chastising her daughter to a randy fairy and a marvellous gum-chewing Mechanical.

I’ve rarely seen the travelling players funnier – and when they broke into a crazy dance choreographed by Nerida Waters to the tune of the love ballad You Don’t Have to Say You Love me, it brought the house down and bellows of laughter were heard from every corner of the theatre.

It is a Dream worth remembering and it continues until March 7. Bookings: 07 3007 8600

 

The Business of Murder

Written by Richard Harris

Directed by Sharon White

New Farm Nash Theatre

Merthyr Road Uniting Church,

 New Farm

 

By PAULINE SMITH

 

Season from 27 February-14 March Bookings: Phone: 3379 4775, www.trybooking.com/118234

The Business of Murder is a psychological thriller about revenge and involves the relationship between Dee, a successful TV playwright, Hallett, a Detective-Superintendent, and Stone.

The play begins with a very timid Stone (played by Paul Careless) talking with Detective Superintendent John Hallett (played by Rob Harvey). Mr Stone has invited Hallett to his flat because he is concerned about his son, Clive, who he believes is involved with drug dealing and is on the run from the ‘heavies’.

From this scene, there is the only one scene change, but the TV is playing an episode of The Sweeney and the timid Stone has changed; he much more in charge. It is from here the audience begins to wonder who is this man as he him blatantly sets evidence around his flat. Is he suffering from personality disorder, or is he a psychopath,  or is he something else?

Dee Redmond (played by Phillipa Dwyer) then arrives on the scene; Stone has invited her round to meet his wife, who has written a draft TV script with a hope of production. Stone then plays the loving husband role.

Throughout this he maintains that his wife is in the bedroom but the audience already knows he doesn’t have a wife. He has already told Det. Supt Hallett she was dead. Stone makes all sorts of excuses as to why his wife does not leave the bedroom, which adds to the intrigue of what he wants from Dee Redmond.

By interval, Stone has laid down plenty of red herrings and muddied the waters enough to keep the audience guessing as to his real motive.

This is a very clever play by Richard Harris, and with the good casting of Harvey, Careless and Dwyer, it comes to life.

Rob Harvey was a superb with Detective Superintendent John Hallett and he, portrayed the stereotypical Scotland Yard detective to a tee. His character effused total control and mastery until Stone begins to reveal what he has really been up to, and then he becomes the man whose life is starting to spiral out of control with no hope of redemption.  

Phillipa Dwyer was also superb in her role as Dee Redmond, going from woman in control, to being scared out of her wits as she learns what Stone has in store for her.  

Paul Careless, was exceptionally good as Stone. He draws the audience along with his characterisation of a hapless man, then a cold, calculating killer happy in his work, to the ending where all is revealed. All three actors worked together very well and there is a believable chemistry between them, and as Stone unravels his plot we learn the real relationship that exists between them – the business of murder.

The Uniting Church hall and stage is not large, but it offers an intimacy with the actors on stage that is not always possible in the larger theatres. The set (designed by Sharon White) was Mr Stone’s sitting room, with entrance from the front door at stage left, a lounge, wooden chair (with a bit of a squeak when people sat on it) and a coffee table. Behind the chair is a padlocked large metal trunk. Behind the sofa is a red telephone on a stand, not seen until it is used. At the back of stage right was a scrim, a white walled room which was the bedroom and actors could be seen when inside it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this play. The quick pat of the delivered lines kept the pace ticking along. The intrigue and suspense as the audience tries to work out who or what Stone actually is, continues right up to the very end.

I have always enjoyed the UK crime genre and the New Farm Nash Theatre has a little gem on their hands with this one, which has been directed by Sharon White.

 

Relatively Speaking

By Alan Ayckbourn

Directed by Colin Robinson

Sunnybank Theatre Group

Corner Beeleigh and Mains Roads

Sunnybank

 

By ERIC SCOTT

 

Season February 13-28 Bookings: 07 3345 3964 or www.stg.org.au

 

Take a pair of new lovers – Greg, a young innocent and Ginny a woman with a dubious past - who share a small city flat, and pair them with a sophisticated English upper class married couple, Sheila and Phillip Carter who enjoy life in the country, and you have Ayckbourn’s recipe for total bewilderment.

Relatively Speaking was first produced in 1965 and was Ayckbourn’s first commercial success.

It’s a twist-ridden plot, a tale of misunderstandings, mistaken identities, subterfuge, and lies that turns into a comedy with some side-splitting moments. It is also one which was obviously born in the UK during the swinging 60s. Couples living together out of wedlock had become trendy and women taking several lovers and having casual affairs with older married men quite the done thing.

Colin Robinson wisely played this 50-year-old play as a period piece and had the characters fit the time. The cast in general were up to the task of creating the often eccentric characters.

The action of the play is set in Greg’s dingy flat which is nicely decorated to period (there is even a print of Tretchikoff’s million seller green faced Chinese Woman stuck on the wall) and the patio of the Carter’s flower-bedecked country home.

Rather than have a composite set Sunnybank chose to have a pair of complete box sets and they switched locations extremely well with the minimum of fuss. There was a ripple of applause when the new set was revealed; it was quite a feat for the backstage crew.

The journey of disruption begins when Ginny, Greg’s love of just four weeks tells him she is off to the country to visit her parents. There have been some mysterious truncated phone calls, bunches of flowers and boxes of chocolate have been hidden around the flat and Ginny’s explanations are flimsy to say the least. Then there is a pair of slippers, which are under the bed and are definitely not Greg’s.

Greg gets suspicious, although he knows that “he is not Ginny’s first”. He proposes, and after a sort of acceptance from Ginny says he wants to come with her to meet her parents. Ginny’s horror is transparent as she creates some strange reasons for him to stay home.

She goes and Greg decided to follow.

And that is where the story really begins as Greg turns up to what he believes is Ginny parents’ home which in reality is the home of the older lover she is desperately trying to get rid of.

The opening scene tended to be a bit too intense and angry for a pair of new lovers, with Bianca Butler Reynolds’ Ginny a little too aggressive and Nathaniel Young’s Greg being rather too passive,  but as soon as Greg meets up with Sheila the play improved immeasurably and laughs started to flow.

Sally Jenkins as the posh Sheila Carter is hilarious and she creates some marvellous facial expressions as she tries to make polite conversation with Greg the total stranger. She has great comic timing too and she was matched by the cheerful and garrulous Greg who chats happily about his impending marriage to who he thinks is Sheila’s daughter.

Then Greg meets Phillip played very nicely upper-crust and a little sleazy by Chris O’Leary. Again these scenes of confusion are well played and very funny.

At the end of Act One Ginny made her expected entrance and we all left for the bar before returning for more laughs and more unravelling of some outrageous lies and revelations of the past.

And the laughs did keep coming as the four characters slowly realised what was going on, and poor Greg being led nicely by the nose up the garden path.

It is a play that has aged well with some witty dialogue and hilarious situations and was well played at Sunnybank Theatre.

 

 

Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz

Book by Winnie Holzman

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

Based on the Novel by Gregory Maguire

Directed by Lisa Leguillou

Lyric Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank

Brisbane

 

By ERIC SCOTT

 

This was my third attempt at seeing Wicked in Brisbane. The first in 2011 was washed out in the floods, on the revised dates I was overseas, so this time it was third time lucky – and lucky it was.

This 10th anniversary production lived up to all the hype. It was a feast for the eyes and ears – but more than that it has a great storyline. This is no jukebox musical; it is a fully-fledged stage play with a terrific plotline and wonderful characters, some familiar some not.

It posed mysteries: who really was the Wicked Witch of the West: who was killed by the flying house and is Glinda really such a good fairy after all?

It must have the most solid storyline of any modern musical.

I became totally engrossed with the story with its twists and turns, the “legally blonde” Valleygirl the young Galinda who renamed herself Glinda in what she considered to be a protest against bigotry;  Jemma Rix as Elphabathe defensive-aggressive Elphaba with the unfortunate green skin who constantly fought discrimination, the love triangles, plotting, and intrigue. There were also some tongue-in-cheek allusions to the movie that won heaps of laughs.

On top of all that the singers were top of the range and articulate and they could act as well. Jemma Rix was just superb as Elphaba especially in her solo No Good Deed. She created the brooding, sad creature that had wickedness forced upon her, but always had goodness in her heart.

I think everyone felt sympathy for the poor green girl.

Suzie Mathers, with her hair flicking and narcissistic traits, created another great character in Galinda as her shallow self gradually morphed into a caring being. And again what a voice, her duet For Good with Elphaba was spine tingling.

I liked Steve Danielson’s Flyero, the all-American male flapper whose idea of a good life is a good time. I’m sure he was born in the company of The Great Gatsby. He is a terrific character - and again has a fine voice which was used to great effect in a poignant duet with Elphaba, As Long as You’re Mine.

Maggie Kirkpatrick was delightfully crafty as Madam Morrible, the magic teacher who recognises Elphaba’s potential for witchcraft as she work in cahoots with the Wizard. She made a lovely double agent and Simon Gallaher looked as he had been born to play the wizard – he still has a fine voice too as he showed in his solo I’m a Sentimental Man.

All this talent along with a great chorus line that never put a stop or a note out of line was enveloped in masterful technology that turned a very good musical into a visual jaw-dropper.

Eugene Lee’s sets changed scenes quickly and slantly and were turned into something special by Kenneth Posner’s lighting.

I doubt that I have seen a better lighting plot that Posner’s. He created scenes that were simply stunning and so atmospheric – including an Emerald city that was pure emerald. And his lighting for the Act One finale made you believe in magic.

Susan Hilferty’s costumes were perfect too and the sound impeccable.

The show must have cost a large fortune to stage, but every cent was well spent to create what could easily be described as the perfect storm of a musical.

I must admit though that when the curtain opened and the company sang No One Mourns the Wicked Witch, I wondered if I was going to like it. It took me a short while to get used to the sound levels, but once I did I was drawn into the story just like every member of the audience and came to love the show. In fact I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

Wicked runs until April 19. Bookings on QTIX 136 246

 

Ghouls Night Out

 

By Eric Scott

 

Ghouls Night Out

Studio Theatre

647 Wynnum Road,

Morningside

Brisbane

 

If you are looking for something different to celebrate Black Friday (13th) next week you might try booking into this Studio Theatre Show. I saw it with a small audience which was not encouraging for a show that would thrive on audience reactions, but the quartet of singers and actors worked their butts off to energise us and they succeeded.

The show is fun - and different - almost vaudevillian. I thoroughly enjoyed the concept and had a good laugh all the way through. The Ghouls, Dracula, (Damien Lee) Baroness Von Bloodshed (Jo Castle), The Dead Rocker (Matthew McDowell) and Zombie Queen (Wendy Goodfellow), who described themselves as “the real Grateful Dead’, were not very scary but they were funny.

The idea of the show was to bring in ghoul-centred rock songs – Devil Woman and the like with bits of Rocky Horror and blend them into an act. Cleverly, rather than work to a plot, the show had variety:  jokes, sketches, and a few magic tricks.

I particularly enjoyed the “sensorama” sketch where Dracula-clad Damien Lee was subjected to all the happenings on screen by Zombie Queen with a deadpan face standing behind the seat. Even to the point of a knife at the throat.

It was a very funny scene. So was the one where Lee read the news and because of a video malfunction had to act out the lines.

There were some joke sessions with topical, funny, and even old “boom-boom” gags and joke about musicians. Damien Lee also played Dracula the Magician with a few well produced conjuring tricks. He showed us a few more than he managed in the original production in 2012, and he had his audience chuckling through the act.

But it was the music that added the real pizzazz. The two hour (including interval) show is filled with smash hits songs, sung to a technically great soundtrack created by Bradley “Sparky” Clarke, who also did the disco-style lighting.

The cast rocked their way through some of the top hits from the 70s and 80s with songs made famous by the likes of AC/DC, Status Quo, INXS, Kiss, Joan Jett, Rocky Horror, Queen and many more including We Will Rock You, You Shook Me All Night Long, Devil Woman, Time Warp, Born To Be Wild, and Rockin’ All Over The World.

Take along a group of people in party mood and Iopm sure you would have fun.

Playing until March 21. Bookings: (07) 3399 3333, www.studiotheatre.com.au

 

Star Trek - Live in Concert

By ERIC SCOTT

Presented by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Royal International Convention Centre

RNA Showgrounds

Brisbane

 

Going to the movies will never be the same again after seeing this amazing production.

It was a unique and exciting experience and one I would happily repeat.

It was almost surreal to hear the soaring sound of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra playing Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek sound-track live and creating the tensions, action, and suspense of the story as it unfolded on the huge high definition screen. The music was at different times martial, stirring, inspirational, and relentlessly exciting. At other times it was gentle and pastoral

It was fascinating to discover how symphonic the soundtrack actually is. But then it was played by a world class orchestra which was conducted by Nicholas Buc on the night

The massive auditorium was awash with sound from the screen and the orchestra. It was a truly sensory experience that surprised me, but I enjoyed it immensely.

The technical difficulties of  spreading the sound evenly around such a venue were enormous, but the technicians were well up to the job, for not only was the sound spread loudly enough for all to enjoy  but the screen voices were always audible – even though there were subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

The precision of the orchestra too was amazing. Sometime I was so engrossed in the story line that I forgot the music came from the orchestra as the score stropped and started perfectly on electronic cue.

The musicians too had a ball. I was talking to Principal Cello David Lale after the performance and he said he enjoyed the experience very much and that he could ay the same for the rest of his colleagues.

The movie told the story of the original Star Trek characters from birth until the young James Tiberius Kirk was appointed caption of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701. Apart from the marvellous music it was good film to watch, with heaps of action, puzzling time travel, quirky fun and great young lookalikes for the original Television Enterprise crew.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the recreation of the TV series I used to watch years ago - Captain Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura, Scottie and Chekov - combined with whiz-bang special effects and thunderous noises from the screen as the sometimes heart-stopping action rolled on. It is a terrific concept and I hope we see more of this type of hybrid entertainment.

The enduring popularity of the Star Trek franchise was obvious as an amazing 3000 fans crammed into the huge convention centre. Dress-up Trekkies were few and far between but there were many people who you would not see in the concert hall enjoying the musical sweep of a full orchestra at work.

This was my first visit to the Convention Centre. There was a long line-up to get into the showground; parking was on the grassed arena and cost $12. Exiting looked to be a worry, but, after waiting fifteen or so minutes, we joined an orderly queue in which drivers were courteous and we escaped the venue without too much hassle.

 

Boston Marriage

By David Mamet

Directed by Andrea Moo

Queensland Theatre Company

Playhouse Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank

Brisbane

ERIC SCOTT

Three women, posh set, posh frocks, a sprinkling of “shocking” language and laughs a million just about sums up the Boston Marriage opening night. Mamet’s comedy of lesbian love, deceit, and misadventure is a nice, sweet two hours long including interval, which is needed to recharge the laughing batteries.

The setting of the play of course is in Boston, USA, at the turn of the 19th century, among the upper classes. A Boston Marriage is the genteel way of referring to a relationship between two females that may involve both physical and emotional intimacy, according to Wikipedia

We have Anna, the slightly overblown rose, who is entertaining a gentleman friend, whose gifts help pay for her lavish lifestyle. Included in those gifts is a beautiful jewelled necklace. This is Amanda Muggleton at her best. Is there nothing she can’t play? She is gorgeously over the top, with melodramatic rants, hair-tearing despair, and the cunning of a feral cat.

She had her rooms redecorated because her erstwhile lover Claire is to return from a trip and she wants to impress – and keep her alongside - and so wears the expensive necklace to impress her lover.

But Claire is not particularly impressed and has other ideas about their relationship. The highly sexy, self absorbed miss confesses that she is in love with a young girl and has moved on from her older lover. She dismisses Anna’s protestations of love and loyalty and says she has invited her new love to Anna’s place for an assignation so she can consummate her lust. This is a perfectly timed performance from Rachel Gordon.

After protestations, sometime loud, sometimes muttered and sometimes spluttered, Anna agrees, provided she can watch the seduction.

They are a truly naughty duo and both actors revel in the characters and the poetic lines of David Mamet’s script, which is wordy, but sharp in observation and wit. The language nuances demand American accents and that is what we got – except they were more, they were nicely authentic Brahmin Boston accents; which mean they related to the truly upper classes.

They were understandable and convicting, which is a great tribute to Dialect Coach Melissa Agnew who coaxed a difficult accent from the actors.

Of course true love, lust or even simple loose living never run smoothly and the plot develops almost into farce as the two conniving women try to save their livelihood, reputations, and even a prison term for Anna.

We never see the unfortunate new lovers, but we don’t need to, the words paint a vivid picture of them.

Now as if these two manic characters aren’t enough to keep you laughing enter Katherine, the maid from the Outer Hebrides.

 She is such a comic character she could have some straight from a Noel Coward comedy. She is used and abused by the women, seduced by the stove repairman and, as played by Helen Cassidy, steals every scene she is in.

Her accent once again is authentic and her timing is immaculate. It is a beautifully written role, expertly played for its entire comic worth. There is a well balanced mix of design, lights, and sound from Steven Curtis, David Walters and Phil Hagstrom to create an enjoyable atmosphere on stage and of course the costumes were stunning and authentic down to the buttons.

It was a perfect opening to an interesting-looking Queensland Theatre Company season. It plays until February 15 before going on a tour of regional Queensland.

 

The Complete Works of William

Shakespeare (Abridged)

 

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

By Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield

Directed by Rebecca Elise Lamb

Brisbane Arts Theatre

Petrie Terrace

Brisbane

 

ERIC SCOTT January 11, 2015

 

I saw a professional production of this show back in 2013 played by a trio of experienced comedians and laughed my socks off, so I wondered how am amateur company would cope with such a difficult and fast-moving show, but it seems that the Brisbane Arts theatre is not very amateur at all these days. The director and the actors all have professional experience.  The production was terrific and I laughed just as much as I did the first time as the cast ploughed through all 37 plays and 154 sonnets in record time.

The show is so live, with topical and local and IT gags that there can be no true running time. It is advertised as 90 minutes, but in the past it has run for up to two hours and even 135 minutes. It all depends on the audience. The opening night for this production lasted for around 110 minutes with great audience reaction.

It rocked along with great pace and amazing comic timing from three extremely good actors. And first class direction from Rebecca Elise Lamb. This surprisingly was her first go at direction, but she has a wealth of professional theatrical appearances that stretch from superheros at Movie World to dancing with the Australian Ballet. Obviously she has learned her stagecraft and put it to good use with this show.

She even had the backstage crew, wearing T-shirts with legends like “You can’t see me” rush willy-nilly on and off the stage adding extra comedy touches.

Because of the heavy workload Rebecca has two casts and on opening night her shrewd eye for talent showed up well with Rita Artmann, Rob Griffiths and Nathan Pamenter taking us through this close to two hours of fun and mayhem.

Where the original had an all-male cast of this one had the added extra of a female in Rita Artmann. She was so bouncy and energetic and didn’t drop a beat from her welcoming “soliloquy” to coping on her own and dealing with unwanted audience members on stage.

Keeping up with the insanity of the piece Rita played the male roles while Nathan Pamenter made an unlikely and hilarious drag artist. This guy has magical timing.

Rob Griffiths was a straight man to a pair of knockabout comics. His almost Hamlet outfit looked as if it would be at home in classical theatre, and so did he as he knelt in the spotlight to begin “To be or not to be”. But it was not to be after all when he changed his mind. He was even better when they did scenes backwards and ended with “be to not or be to.”

The show opened with Romeo and Juliet which took up a good 20 minutes sketching out the characters and the storyline. But they got rid of the comedies in one five-minute hit by creating a storyline that combined all the plots and it was done so well it really sounded like a real play.

The kings were quickly dispensed with in a football match and Othello done a rap dance. Bad Scottish accents and silly hats got the laughs in Macbeth and the bloody Titus Andronicus was played as a TV cooking show.

Interval arrived with total anarchy as Nathan Pamenter, refused point blank to do Hamlet, ran out of the theatre chased by Rob Griffiths, which left Rita Artmann alone on stage to tell jokes, and eventually send everyone to the bar.

The second Act was mainly Hamlet, with a appalling ghosts, bad wigs, crash-helmeted guards a  skull, hilarious not-so-quick changes by Pamenter and a light sabre sword battle and even a short and serious rendering of ‘What a piece of work is a man’ by Pamenter.

It was a great opening to the new season and augers well for the rest of the year. It continues until March 14, bookings on (07) 3369 2344.

 

The Wind in the Willows

 

PICTURE: After the show Luke Carroll still had time to

entertain the children. Photo by Deanne Scott

 

ERIC SCOTT January 9, 2015

 

The Wind in the Willows

By Kenneth Grahame

Adapted by Maxine Mellor

Directed by Kat Henry

La Boite Theatre Company

Roundhouse Theatre

Kelvin Grove

Brisbane

 

If your child loves the TV show Playschool, then show is for them. With Playschool host Luke Carroll telling the tale of Mr Toad and his three friends Ratty, Mole, and Badger, it is aimed unashamedly at the pre-school tots and the young parents who watch with them.

It was a show to which they could really relate.

And judging by the reactions at the opening night it is going to be a huge holiday hit.

There were laughs, spontaneous yells from the children (which Carroll dealt with very nicely) and awed silences as drama unfolded.

The simple set was cleverly designed by Hugh O’Connor. Aided by Keith Clark’s lighting plot it became Toad Hall, a riverbank, a hole in the ground, the open road, a multiple crash site, and even a prison as the rambunctious Mr Toad dragged his unwilling allies through a host of adventures.

Maxine Mellor’s script was a neat condensation of the story of the rich, brash Mr Toad with a penchant for trouble and wonderful hospitality at his mansion home, and his three friends, the river-loving Water Rat, the underground dwelling, nervous Mole and the grumpy hermit Badger.

All the events from life on the open road in a caravan, to the theft of a car, prison, an escape and the fight to win back Toad Hall from the Weasels and Stoats.

Carroll played the roles of storyteller, a swaggie with his bag of tricks, and the four animal friends, each with its own characteristics.

As the Storyteller he made his entrance swinging onto the islands set on a rope, which set the mood for an evening of fun. He added some slapstick, which always goes down well with pre-schoolers,

He distinguished each character with simple mannerisms, body language, and a change of voice. . He was particularly won hearts and giggles when he portrayed Toad disguised as the Washerwoman after his escaped from prison.

Often those exaggerated Playschool movement gave the play a television feel, but more than that, Carroll encouraged the kids to use their imagination to create the suggested pictures in their own minds.

It was in fact a good, old fashioned storytelling and vocal picture painting that had most of the kids and their parents enthralled. It ran for exactly one hour, with quick scene changes that kept the action moving fast enough to stop the tots from getting bored and longing for their game machines.

It continues wit twice daily shows until January 17. Bookings on 07 3007 8600 or www.laboite.com

 

The Illusionists 1903

 

ERIC SCOTT January 5, 2015

 

The Illusionists 1903

Presented by QPAC in association with Tim Lawson and Simon Painter

Concert Hall

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank

Brisbane

 

FIRST let it be said: I love magicians and conjurors. I am always impressed by sleight of hand and the quirky cleverness of the manipulators, so I was looking forwards to this latest production from the Illusionists Company. And I was not disappointed.

Seven masters of magic created great illusions on opening night but the entertainment value certainly was no illusion. I was completely lost in wonder at the deftness of the cast as they manipulated objects, people, and the audience for an engrossing and very fast moving two hours.

They were: Rick Thomas - The Immortal, Charlie Frye - The Eccentric, Jonathan Goodwin - The Daredevil, Mark Kalin - The Showman, Jinger Leigh - The Conjuress, Thommy Ten and Amélie van Tass - The Clairvoyants, and Armando Lucero - The Maestro.

It was one of those shows where I didn’t check my watch at all and was surprised when it all ended.

This is the third Illusionists show. I saw the first which was a spectacular, glossy, and flamboyant production with acts like making a motorbike disappear and other mind- boggling effects.

I missed the second because I was overseas.

This time the mood was more subdued, the tricks less flashy; but then the setting was the turn of the 20th century when artists didn’t have the luxury of modern technology. They used skill and showmanship and that’s what we got. We might all have seen the illusions before, but it was not the tricks so much as the way they were performed, with deftness, humour – and always with one extra twist at the end of the act.

And the audience was used to its fullest with a trail of willing helpers on stage to assist and do anything from memory tricks to lying on a bed of nails.

Armando Lucero performed seemingly simple card tricks under the watchful eye of an on-stage camera and a two people from the audience. The act was nothing more than moving coins around under four cards. Nothing spectacular, but riveting to watch as the audience tried to work out which hand was deceiving the eye and deciding that they both were!

We saw the mysterious joining ring tricks, doves rising phoenix like from a flaming cage, the dancing bowling ball, Rick Thomas’s disappearing acts, cutting people in half, and the amzing levitation act, Jonathan Goodwin’s escape from a straight-jacket, while smothered in flames, and other painful exercises.

Thommy Ten and Amélie van Tass worked an amazing clairvoyant act, with Amelie describing many unseen objects in a very Edwardian way; very classy and convincing. It was a trick people said, they used codes – whatever. It did not really matter how they did it, just the fact they did it kept the audience engrossed.  

I gave up trying to outguess the magician many years ago, today I just sit back and marvel at the talent.

Mark Kalin and his partner Jinger Leigh added class and pizzazz to their brand of magic and Charlie Frye was the ring-in act.

He added vaudeville to the magic. He was a juggler. Not just a throw-the-balls-in-the air juggler but an expert in silent comedy, magic, and slapstick. He was hilarious and showed true juggling skill by throwing around objects of completely different mass as his wife Sherry played the stooge.

I enjoyed every second he was on stage.

In fact I enjoyed every second of every act and the audience of mums dad, grandparents, and kids of all ages had a ball, as they cheered and clapped and even gave the performers a standing ovation.

The show ends on January 11. Bookings: QTIX, 136 246.

Next up is Adelaide from January 15-25 at the  Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre Book at BASS 131 246 for further information adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au