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