Sunday, May 31, 2015

Theatre: Horsehead (★★★)

Longley is the tall one (not horse)
Written and directed by Damon Lockwood
Performed by Damon Lockwood and Sam Longley
Independent Theatre Festival
Subiaco Arts Centre Studio
Until June 6  

The trick with a great idea is knowing how far you can take it. In Horsehead, the writer, director and performer Damon Lockwood had the first, and gets the second, and the result is a proposition that’s impossible to resist – or words to that effect.
Lockwood’s great idea is like Tom Stoppard’s in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead; take two minor characters from a great work and flesh them out, see their blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene in the mighty drama sweeping past them from the inside looking out.
It’s a device that’s driven some eminent artistic ideas: it’s the theme of WH Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts, and Breugal’s The Fall of Icarus that inspired it. It’s a recurring undercurrent in T.S Eliot’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock.
But that’s all way too hifalutin’, which is something you could never accuse Horsehead of.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Theatre: Under This Sun (★★★★½)

Directed by Warwick Doddrell
Featuring Maja Liwszyc, Tristan McInnes and Peter Lane Townsend
Until June 6

In Under This Sun, the writer and director Warwick Doddrell and his collaborators Maja Liwszyc, Tristan McInnes and Peter Lane Townsend have devised a story with a persuasive narrative arc, created three memorable characters to people it, and given them a fine, very often poetic, text to express themselves with.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Theatre: Once We Were Kings (★★½)

Written by Dure Khan
Directed by Mustafa Al Mahdi and Alex Kannis
Featuring Angela Mahlatjie, Solayman Belmihoub and Naomi Denny
Until May 30

Dure Khan’s story of young gay Australian Muslims caught between worlds, Once We Were Kings, burns with the heat of stories that need to be told. It’s impossible to ignore the intensity and sincerity Khan brings to her undertaking, and her writing is steeped in the hard beauty of Islam, the rustle of silk, the tastes of pomegranate and almonds, the call to prayer.   
But it also has to be said that she and her directors, Mustafa Al Mahdi and Alex Kannis, haven’t fashioned this message, and these images, into an effective drama.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Vale: BB King

Whenever I'm asked my favourite ever gig, BB King's concert at The Maj in 1974 is my most usual response. Mainly because it was so happy, from the great opener by our own, legendary, Roadband to the final bows (BB's concerts were, as The Blues go, quite formal affairs!).
The man had such a warm presence to go with that all-grown-up voice and unsurpassed guitar playing.  Listen in:

His closer, I'd Like to Live the Life I Sing About, might be mawkish in less skilled or genuine hands, but BB made it joyous and unforgettable. Here it is - may he rest in peace:


Monday, May 11, 2015

Footy: A Superhero For The Age Of Freo!

Nathan Skywalker

Theatre: Wicked (★★★½)

Suzie Mathers is good
By Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holtzman
Directed by Lisa Leguillou
Original Direction Joe Mantello
Musical Staging Wayne Cilento
Burswood Theatre
On sale until June 28

Wicked, the world’s biggest commercial musical, returns to Perth with its mix of the very good and the less than overwhelming pretty much intact.
One thing doesn’t change: it’s a very clever story, based on the novel Gregory Maguire spun from L Frank Baum’s timeless masterpiece of American heartland fantasy, The Wizard of Oz, in a way that both expands and undercuts it.
It gives the two witches – Glinda and Elphaba, the wicked witch of the title – a back story, and the personalities to drive it.
The story precedes, and then parallels, the adventures of Dorothy in the original Oz. It’s an ingenious, expertly crafted book (by Winnie Holzman), with effective messages about intolerance, oppression and the manipulation of public perception, that remains the best thing about the show.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Comedy: Lawrence Mooney (★★★½)

Perth Comedy Festival
Downstairs at the Maj
May 8

No doubt the last thing Lawrence Mooney would appreciate being called is reliable, but it’s the truth.  
If Asher Treleaven is the Barry Humphries of contemporary Aussie comedy, Mooney is its Bert Newton (and before you say anything, the Bert Newton of In Melbourne Tonight and The Don Lane show was a comedian of phenomenal touch and self-awareness). Mooney may not make you gasp in amazement, as Treleaven sometimes can, but he never loosens his grip on your laughing bits.
One day I’ll take a stopwatch to a Lawrence Mooney show and time when the audience isn’t laughing. It won’t be for long. 

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian

Monday, May 4, 2015

Theatre: Confidence Man (★★★)

By Zoe Pepper and Adrianne Daff
Perth Theatre Company and Side Pony Productions
Directed by Zoe Pepper
STC Studio until May 10
Theatre is generally a low-tech enterprise. Sure, little apples gleam in the dark from lighting and sound desks, but the essential business of theatre remains the activity of people deploying their skills and training in real time, and in person, in front of you.

But in Zoe Pepper and Adrianne Daff’s Confidence Man, all that human endeavour is pre-packaged and handed over to the audience to play with. The apples have taken over the orchard.
Audience members wearing huge, cartoonish masks play Confidence Man’s six characters. They each have a smart phone that gives them individual stage instructions and plays their pre-recorded dialogue for them to mime to. The rest of the audience sits in a single row around a huge set, the floorplan of Pete’s house. Each of them wears a headset and cradles a smartphone with which they can pick and choose the characters they follow as the story unfolds.
There’s a clear legitimacy to this approach, because it more accurately imitates life than conventional theatre, where the audience sees everything from a single point of view. Here the audience sees only part of the story, from one of several perspectives, like Kurosawa’s Rashomon turned back on itself. It’s an intriguing method of storytelling, and makes the plot three-dimensional and genuinely exciting as it reaches its climax.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian   

Friday, May 1, 2015

Comedy: Paul Foot (★★★★½)

Perth Comedy Festival
Octagon Theatre
April 30, May 1, 2015

The sad truth about seeing Paul Foot every chance you get is that the wonderful disorder he creates in you wears off. Worse, you can become jealous of other people in his audience – undoubtedly seeing him for the first time – suffering from the same exquisite malady you once had. You can recognise them by their helpless laughter, something between a snicker and a whimper, the human equivalent of a dog kicking his hind leg as its tummy is scratched.
The good news is that, like new love turning into old marriage, other pleasures await.

Comedy: Perth Comedy Festival Gala

Perth Comedy Festival Gala
Joel Creasey, Cam Knight, Tien Tran, Gen Fricker, Mike Goldstein, Paul Foot, Stephen K Amos, Craig Hill, Nick Cody, Rhys Nicholson, Angelo Tsarouchas and Tony Woods
Regal Theatre, Subiaco
Wednesday April 29

Crawl over broken glass to see this bloke (pic: Tobias Venus)
The Perth Comedy Festival has defied demographic gravity this year and moved west. It’s now spread everywhere from the UWA campus to the Mt Lawley Bowling Club, the only venue to survive from the festival’s previous iteration.
The great benefit of a Gala is that you generally get the best of each act’s full show. It’s interesting to see how fashions change in comedy, sometimes quite rapidly. There seemed, happily, to be less fixation with sex than a couple of years ago, and far more on various forms of bigotry; admittedly, with four gay men, an Asian Australian and African American comedians on the bill, that might be expected.
As always, Galas are the best of times and the worst of times; you love the variety, but miss the journey a fine comedian takes you on.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian