Monday, May 28, 2012

Theatre: I (Honestly) Love You/ Les Affreux

 I (Honestly) Love You
Written and directed by Damon Lockwood
Designed by Cherie Hewson
With Jimmie James Eaton, George Gayfer, Talie Howell-Price and Damon Lockwood
Blue Room Theatre
17 May – 2 June

Les Affreux
Written and directed by Wade K Savage
Designed by Alana Starcevich
With Ethan Thomas, Caris Eves, Rina Frieberg, Nick Pages-Oliver and Nina Deasley
Blue Room Theatre
24 May – 9 June

Damon Lockwood
Damon Lockwood is a clever, funny guy, and his little rom-com, I (Honestly Love You), is him all over.
Two people meet and fall in love, but have a congenital inability to lie. Comic complications ensue. It’s a good idea – so good it’s been used in various permutations in scripts, especially very popular film scripts, since Bob Hope’s Nothing But the Truth in 1941. The similarity diminishes and dates this production.
For all that, I (Honestly Love You) is a witty and often audacious piece. It’s performed well by Jimmie James Eaton and George Gayfer as the candour-crossed lovers, with Lockwood and Talie Howell-Price supporting them as an assortment of parents and mates. Lockwood, who also directs, cleverly gives Eaton and Gayfer's Lloyd and Belle a three-dimensional treatment that sets them apart from the others, who are played more as types than characters.

Les Affreux, the earlier show at the Blue Room, is the stage debut of filmmaker Wade K Savage.
Savage approaches his writing and direction like a filmmaker, but on the stage, without editing suites and instant scene changes, he founders in the attempt. To be fair, there have been plenty of theatre writers and directors who’ve hit similar rocks going the other way.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Comedy: Perth International Comedy Festival Finale

Director Jo Marsh
The Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley
March 20, 2012

Neil Hamburger
After the last laugh of the smash-hit Perth International Comedy Festival ricocheted down Beaufort Street and peace and quiet returned to Mt Lawley, you could imagine the grand old Astor Theatre having a nice cup of tea and a lie down.
The 19-day festival attracted more than 26,000 punters, way above the budgeted break-even point of 16,000 for its inaugural year. The four venues — the Astor, the Mt Lawley Bowling Club, the Velvet Lounge at the Flying Scotsman and the Daily Planet Cafe — operated at above 80 per cent capacity.
It's an impressive achievement by the festival director Jo Marsh, chairman Glenn Connell and his board and the festival's marketing manager Emma Poletti, and marks it, along with this February's rapidly maturing Fringe Festival, as the most significant addition to the Perth performing arts scene in years.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Theatre: The Magic Hour

Deckchair Theatre
Written by Vanessa Bates
Directed by Chris Bendall
Set and costume design by Alicia Clements
Light and sound designed by Joe Lui
Performed by Ursula Yovich

Ursula Yovich (pic: Jon Green)
Ursula Yovich is an experienced and garlanded performer yet, in The Magic Hour, she continues to challenge herself and her craft.
These retellings of iconic fairy stories take her away from her signature motifs, her singing and her Aboriginal heritage, but playwright Vanessa Bates and director Chris Bendall have created a character in the storyteller who, while ethnically non-specific, plays beautifully to Yovich’s strengths. Clearly relishing the chance to fly out of her comfort zone, she delivers a potent, nuanced performance that had the Deckchair Theatre audience on its feet at the curtain.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Comedy: Perth International Comedy Festival #3

Hannah Gadsby, Brendon Burns, Bonnie Davies, Andrea Gibbs and Neil Hamburger
The Jack High Room, Mt Lawley Bowling Club
PICF runs until May 20
What do you do when your show runs over? Take it, and the audience, outside! 
Brendon Burns at the Mt Lawley Bowlng Club on Friday night  (pic: Jenna Boston) 
The rampaging Perth International Comedy Festival has created two performance areas, the Jack High Room and the Laughter Locker, at the Mt Lawley Bowling Club, with its bar and lounge between. Unlike the much larger festival venue at the nearby Astor Theatre, you get the chance to hang out, have a few (un-Perthly cheap) drinks and meet the performers.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: National Interest

Black Swan State Theatre Company

Written and directed by Aiden Fennessy
Designed by Christina Smith
With James Bell, Julia Blake, Grant Cartwright, Michelle Fornasier, Stuart Halusz and Polly Low
Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
5 – 20 May, 2012
Grant Cartwright, James Bell, Stuart Halusz and Julia Blake (pic Gary Marsh)
1975 is a great swirl in the minds of Australians who lived through it. It’s unsurprising that an obscure post-colonial fracas, albeit one close by in Portuguese Timor, wasn’t high on anyone’s agenda. Or that reports that five journalists working for Australian TV networks there were unaccounted for didn’t impinge greatly on our congested consciousnesses.
Even when their deaths, in the village of Balibo, were confirmed on November 12, it was low priority news. 
In one ordinary suburban house in Melbourne, though, and for one ordinary Australian wife and mother, it was the day a world ended. The day she knew her son Tony had died.
Thirty-two years later, in Aiden Fennessy’s elegiac National Interest, that mother, June Stewart (Julia Blake) defies her own diminishing strengths and, surrounded by the shades of her 21 year old son Tony (James Bell) and his mates in the Seven Network crew who died alongside him, reaches out for peace. 
For Fennessy, who also directs the play, this must have been a voyage deep into his own heart. All these people exist, or once existed, and Fennessy is June Stewart’s nephew, and Tony Stewart’s cousin. He manages this potent mix of real life and theatre with great intuition and impeccable sympathy.
National Interest is by a great margin the most significant new play Black Swan have premiered in the Heath Ledger Theatre, and the most complete, moving and satisfying production they have mounted on its stage. 

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian           

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Theatre: Vernon God Little

By DBC Pierre

adapted by Tanya Ronder
Directed by Sarah Giles
Set designer Daniel Ampuero
Performed by WAAPA 3rd Year acting students
Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA
4 – 10 May 2012

Damien Strothos and Megan McGlinchey 
(pic: Jon Green)
Tanya Ronder’s darkly comic adaptation of Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre’s Booker Prize-winning novel, gets a tight, entertaining showcase from WAAPA’s 3rd year acting students under the skilful, inventive direction of Sydney Theatre Company associate director Sarah Giles.
First staged by the Old Vic in 2007, the play has had a similarly mixed reception to the novel (fueled, in part, by the Australian-born Pierre’s decidedly flaky personal reputation), but Giles and her talented young cast amplify its strengths and neatly side-step most of its weaknesses.

Link here  to the complete review in The West Australian 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Comedy: Perth International Comedy Festival #2

The Pajama Men, Des Bishop, Tripod
Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley
PICF runs until May 20

The Astor was under siege. People cramming in and out of the old girl, milling on the sidewalks, clambering down fire escapes and queuing for a hundred metres up Beaufort Street. It was like thousands of really hip looking orcs had descended on some fortress in Gondor looking for man-flesh.
Well they weren’t really orcs (what was I thinking). They were Perth, and what had created this frenzy was the trove of comedy gold that had been hoarded inside the building.
In February, PIAF and the Perth Fringe showed that there’s an enormous hunger in this town for contemporary, quality, accessible entertainment, especially if it’s gathered in precincts where you can hop from show to show. PICF is about to prove the point. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Theatre: The Maj Monologues final

Directed by Michael McCall
Performed by Peter Holland, James Helm, Julia Moody, Stephanie Power, Marko Jovanovic and Ian Toyne
Downstairs at the Maj
2 – 5 May, 2012

The Maj Monologues is a writing competition first and foremost, but it’s also an entertainment, and, on the strength of the packed first night of its final, a very popular one.
The competitor’s task was to write a dramatic monologue of around ten minutes’ duration, and prizes included one adjudicated by a panel of theatre professionals and a people’s choice award voted on by audience members at the final’s four nights.
Picking the winners, though, was for them and you to do, and I think both they and you got it pretty well right. What I could judge, though, was the evening as a piece of theatre, and, on that count, everyone came out on top.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Comedy: Perth International Comedy Festival #1

Festival director Jo Marsh
Yon, DeAnne Smith, Asher Treleaven
PICF runs until May 20
at venues around Mt Lawley

PICF director Jo Marsh was doing a fine job of looking both exhausted and elated in the foyer of the Astor on night two of her festival. "We sold a thousand tickets today", she told me, "and we've got sell-outs happening all over the place!".
Good on her and crew. It's scary enough mounting an exercise like this (140 performances by 40 acts over 19 days), but when you're doing it with almost no funding support (hats off to the City of Stirling, though) and mostly in-kind sponsorship, and when your genesis was clouded by some internecine brouhaha in local comedy circles, it can be a sphincter-tightening exercise.
Asher Treleaven
I think Jo can relax a bit (maybe that's not a perfectly-placed phrase). As the PIAF/Fringe extravaganza showed in February, there's an enormous hunger in this town for contemporary, quality, accessible entertainment,  especially in precincts where you can hop from show to show, grab a drink or two along the way and mingle with hip people. There's money out there, and if Perth is given alternatives to spending it all on $45 main courses and $12 drinks, they'll take it in droves, and do it all year.
Turnstiles is going to be doing plenty of droving at PICF over the next fortnight or so, 23 shows in all, and we'll report back to you with micro-reviews and other news as we go.
So let's get cracking!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Theatre: Noises Off

By Michael Frayn

Knuts Theatre
Directed by Stephen Lee
With Ian Bolgia, Melissa Kiiveri, Angelique Malcolm, David Meadows, Graham Mitchell, Claire Munday, Adam T Perkins, Shirley Van Sanden and Summer Williams
Camelot Theatre, Mosman Park
1 – 12 May 2012

Shirley Van Sanden and Melissa Kiiveri
Michael Frayn’s celebrated Noises Off is, in many respects, a victim of its own fame. Thirty years on, it’s a hit whenever it gets a worthy production (a much-admired revival is currently running on the West End), but it has often suffered at the hands of directors and casts attracted by its veneer of broad humour – and deliberately cheap and nasty production values – but unable to manage its technical intricacies and subtleties.
I went to the Camelot Theatre in Mosman Park for the debut production the Knuts Theatre Company with some trepidation. Happily, though, this Noises Off was confidently handled and genuinely funny.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian