Thursday, January 29, 2015

Theatre: The Bookbinder

Written and designed by Ralph McCubbin Howell and Hannah Smith
Trick of The Light
Directed by Hannah Smith
Music by Tane Upjohn Beatson
Performed by Ralph McCubbin Howell
Blue Room Theatre until 31 January


Inside a magic book, a boy goes on a journey to right a wrong, save himself and, perhaps, a world.
It’s a tale told, in all its variety, from the earliest fairy tales to today’s multiplex family magnets, but rarely with the charm, wit and inventiveness of this tiny gem from New Zealand’s Trick of the Light.
For anyone who is in breathless anticipation of seeing the much-heralded Paper Architect at PIAF, and everyone who hasn’t been able to get a ticket to its sold out season, The Bookbinder is a must. You’d better hurry.

Link here to the compete review in The West Australian

Magic: Frank, the Mind-reading Hotdog

Matt Penny
The Stables
Until January 28

(★ ★ ★)

I’m in awe of people who do things that I can’t do. The list is very long – acrobats, people who speak Mandarin – and Matt Penny is on it.
Not, I should add, for his bartending skills, which are often on display at the Blue Room but don’t extend to creating fancy cocktails and throwing shakers in the air to catch behind his back.
It’s when he ventures out as Frank, the Mind-reading Hotdog that my admiration for him begins.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Theatre: The Dirty Cowboy

Steamwork Arts and Tim Solly
Written and performed by Tim Solly
Directed by Sally Richardson
The Blue Room
Until Jan 31

(★ ★ ★)

The man shuts the blinds in a bare room and takes a shot of whiskey. His gun sits on the table, his guitar leans against it. He pulls another shot.
He’s plucking up courage. He’s waiting for someone, or for something to happen. He picks up the guitar, has a third shot, and sings a song with “Hi Ho” in it.
So (as if there was any doubt) he’s a cowboy.
But this is not High Noon, and he’s no Gary Cooper. He’s a small town sheriff who fell in love with the wrong woman, married to the wrong man. They run, but they can’t hide.
The thing has already happened, and the only person he’s waiting for is himself.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: I Can Breathe Underwater and Fish in the Sea

Two local productions in the Blue Room’s Summer Nights season show that you can fail despite your best intentions, or, maybe, succeed despite yourself.


I Can Breathe Underwater  (★ ★)
By Zoe Hollyoak
The Cutting Room Floor
Directed by Scott Corbett
Sound/ DJ Louis Frere-Harvey
Devised and performed by Jess Allen, Ann-Marie Biagioni, Rian Howlett, Jacinta Larcombe and Giuseppe Rotondella
Blue Room
Until January 31

The Cutting Room Floor’s I Can Breathe Underwater is a case in point. The company, the writer Zoe Hollyoak, and cast members have done fine work in their emerging careers, but, somehow, almost nothing gels in this story of tragedy and its consequences.
I’m afraid It all left me breathless, but not in a good way.

Fish in the Sea (★ ★)
By Daniel Buckle, Nick Pages-Oliver and Kathy Shields
Bastard Productions
Directed by Damon Lockwood
Performed by Daniel Buckle, Nick Pages-Oliver and Jessica Van Wyk
Lazy Susan’s Comedy Den
February 4 - 7
Don’t be surprised if Fish in the Sea becomes a Fringe hit.
There’s dialogue reminiscent of the worst of those breakfast FM radio boy/boy/girl “teams”, some tepid musical numbers and other excruciating stuff.
There is, however, a nifty performance from the feisty Van Wyk, some typically crafty direction from Damon Lockwood, and you never know your luck in a big city.

Link here to the review in The West Australian

Monday, January 26, 2015

Theatre: Eleanor's Story and The Nina Variations

Perhaps this is what they mean by American Exceptionalism. A peculiar brace of shows, each very much a product of their U.S. origin (even though neither was principally set there) played small Fringe World venues over the first Fringe weekend.
Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany  (★ ★ ★ )
Adapted and performed by Ingrid Garner
Directed by Craig Tyrl
The Stables
Until January 30

Eleanor’s Story, is essentially homage from its performer, Ingrid Garner, to her grandmother, upon whose autobiography it is based.
It’s a sweet thing for a granddaughter to attempt, and undoubtedly heartfelt, but for much of its first half it felt underpowered and a touch saccharine.
One story, though abruptly lifts the narrative’s temperature and the intensity of Garner’s performance. From then on we are powerfully subjected to the enormity of civilians’ war, and the horrors visited upon a defeated city. 

The Nina Variations (★ ★ ½)
By Steven Dietz
Directed by Jenna Krasowski
Performed by Michael Sean Cirelli and Hannah Pascoe

The prolific Steven Dietz was given to wonder what might have transpired between the doomed Treplev and his obsession, Nina, at their last meeting in Chekhov’s “The Seagull”, and devises forty-odd scenes between them for to explore his musings. It’s a clever conceit, with much clever writing, and, outside of an environment where knowledge of Chekov’s play is intimate, intricate and deconstructive, a complete waste of time.

Link here to the complete reviews of both plays in The West Australian

Theatre: Mummy

Creative Collaborations
Written and directed by Mick Devine
Performed by Claire Munday
Until Jan 27


Creative Collaborations, the theatrical enterprise of Tiffany Barton and Mick Devine, is something of a spectre at the happy feast of Fringe. No slap and tickle for them – they’ve got hard things on their minds, and they go in hard to say them.
Last year’s Diva, written and performed by Barton, was a Fringe highlight, and, while Devine’s Mummy is a little less stellar, it has much in its favour.
There is bitter humour, and some horror, in the story, but mostly a grim grind until the body and the sprit combine in death.
What makes it bearable is an inspired performance by Munday, who coaxes every drop of humanity and life out of her grisly character. Despite her heroics, there’s something lacking in Mummy – hope, or at least some sort of life-affirmation – that made Diva so moving, but that’s not to detract from its considerable quality.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: Point & Shoot

By Robert Woods and Tyler Jacob Jones
Directed by Gemma Hall and Tyler Jacob Jones
Starring Tyler Jacob Jones, Erin Hutchinson, Robert Woods and Tamara Woolrych
Teatro 1
Until Jan 28


Robert Woods and Tyler Jacob Jones, Point & Shoot’s composer and lyricist, are nimble, well-schooled songwriters, and Jones writes a mean book (if you get the chance to see his superb little two-hander, F@#K Decaf, later in the Fringe, you should grab it). Woods and Jones are also half of a snazzy cast who play over fifty parts, and almost as many instruments, as they belt through a breakneck spoof of all things Hollywood.
Good as they are, it’s the gals who steal the show; Erin Hutchinson, who does everything from grande dame to shrinking violet, and, especially, Tamara Woolrych, who plays the obligatory Hot Tamale – a pair of identical tamale twins in fact – and has a Lucille Ball while she’s at it.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fringe World: A traveller's tale

Perth is a different city when Fringe World is on. For one month it’s a vast caravanserai, with tents and bustling footpaths, creatures in feathers and tinsel swallowing fire and talking in tongues. No place for the fainthearted…
…or the unprepared.
You wouldn’t spend a month anywhere from Andalucía to Zagreb without a forward plan and a fall back position. Neither should you dive into into the Fringe without one.

Link here to the complete article in The West Australian

Monday, January 12, 2015

Theatre: Les Misérables

Kerrie Anne Greenland
From the novel by Victor Hugo
Music by Claude-Michel

Lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel
English libretto by Herbert Kretzmer
A Cameron Mackintosh production
Directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell
Musical director/conductor Geoffrey Castles
Set design by Matt Kinley
Lighting design by Paule Constable
Sound by Mick Potter

Back in 1987, when we were young and unafraid, we sprang a leak as Debbie Byrne dreamed her dream and foundered completely as Normie Rowe brought it home. We were amazed as the barricades clicked into place like a massive Transformer toy and Javert hurtled down through a torrent of stars. We were sure that we’d seen the standard-bearer for the return of the musical, and that it all meant something profound.
Will Les Misérables have survived all the years intact? How will this production measure up to its famous forebears? Most revealing, will it still pass the Old Grey Sniffle Test?
The answer to all three questions is “yes”, albeit with real reservations.

We came out from the opening night performance to news of gunfire and slaughter in the streets of Paris. A reminder that Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité always have their foes, and that we should save our tears for when they are truly needed.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian                             

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Theatre: Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

Phil Zachariah
Victoria Hall, Fremantle
December 22 – 23, 2014

Let me spend 32 words, and take a precious moment of your Christmas Eve, to look into a London grocer with Ebenezer Scrooge on this very day, 171 years ago:
“There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars, and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by…”
Say what you like about him, Charles Dickens could write like his infernal namesake. Perhaps only two writers before him, and only one since, match his mastery of English and the emotional and polemic potential it harbours.
So the Melbourne actor Phil Zachariah performs us all a service with his long-running one-man-show Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, purportedly a reading by the author of his glorious Yuletide parable.