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