Saturday, June 20, 2015

Theatre: Jesus No Ordinary Life (★★½)

Written and directed by Damon Lockwood
Featuring Andrea Gibbs, Brendan Hanson, Nick Pages-Oliver, Sean Walsh, Shane Adamczak and Talei Howell-Price
Designed by Cherie Hewson
Blue Room Theatre
Until July 4

The release of Monty Python’s Life of Brian in 1979 drew howls of outrage and demonstrations outside cinemas from religious groups accusing it of blasphemy and worse.
I doubt that we’ll be seeing earnest people with crucifixes and placards picketing the Blue Room season of Damon Lockwood’s Jesus: No Ordinary Life (even though it’s much more scurrilous than Brian ever was).
Which is a pity, because it would be a diverting way to start a night at the theatre – and it means I’ll have to do the complaining for them.
It’s not that this Jesus offends my wafer-thin religious sensitivities; I just struggle to see what it achieves. 
Towards the end, Lockwood has a character say: “Reviewers, make of this what you will.” That, I’m afraid, is leading with your chin.

Go to the complete review in The West Australian 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fracture (★★★) and How We Ruined MacArthur's Markers (★½)

Two debutante teams of producers are strutting their stuff in short seasons on Perth stages this week. 

by Lucy Clements
Directed by Joe Lui
Designed by Patrick Howe
Featuring Salacia Briggs, Paul Grabovac, James Marzec and Mikala Westall
Blue Room Theatre
Until June 27

Lucy Clements and Harriet Roberts are stepping out from their final year at WAAPA with Clement’s psychological drama Fractured. They’ve done their due diligence and delivered a tight, crafty script in a perfect venue, realised by the established talent they’ve engaged, including the director Joe Lui and designer Patrick Howe.
The script has some infelicities, and could do with some more effective relief from the pervasive gloom, but Fracture is a strong beginning for Clements and Roberts.

How We Ruined MacArthur’s Markers
By Thomas Owen and Cal Silberstein
Music by Jackson Griggs
Directed by Thomas Owen
Performed by Ben Thomas, James Cohen, Amy Fortnum, Olivia Everett, Sven Ironside and Madeline Crofts
Subiaco Arts Centre
Until June 27

While Fracture looks forward to its creators’ future, Thomas Owen, Cal Silberstein and Jackson Griggs’ How We Ruined MacArthur’s Markers looks back to their days in UWA’s University Dramatic Society, where a version of it was produced last year. 
Some of the young cast do well (Madeline Croft’s dipsomaniac company lawyer and Sven Ironside’s love struck accountant had good nights), but MacArthur’s Markers gave us little indication of the potential of either its creators or performers.

Go to both reviews in The West Australian

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Theatre: The Luck of the Irish

Megan Wilding and Seamus Quinn
Yesterday was the 112th anniversary of the summer’ afternoon James Joyce and Nora Barnacle stepped out together in Dublin, later immortalized as the day in which he set Ulysses. It has been celebrated as Bloomsday for over nine decades, in homage to the book, its author and the joys of alcohol.
The Irish Club staged its 26th (and, some report, last) Bloomsday last night, with performances by the illustrious and indefatigable Colm O’Doherty, his lovely daughter Damien, and other luminaries.
As the luck of the Irish would have it, there’s been a lot of it around this week; from the saga of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Fianna in Finn O’Branagain and Scott Sandwich’s illuminating, poetic The Epic at the Blue Room to Taryn Ryan’s show-stopping Ireland in WAAPA’s smashing Legally Blonde at the Regal (both reviewed here).
But they were mere tastes; for the whole stew, it’s off to WAAPA and, where else, the Irish Club.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Theatre: Legally Blonde (★★★★½)

By Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin
Book by Heather Hach
WAAPA 2nd & 3rd Year Music Theatre students
Directed by Jason Langley
Music Director David King
Choreographer Lisa O’Dea
Set Design by Steve Nolan
Lighting Design by Trudy O’Neill

Regal Theatre
Until June 20

Bend and Snap: Jess Philippi, Tayla Jarrett, Heather Manley, Taryn Ryan, Kate Thomas and the ensemble
Omigod you guys – it’s time to get serious!
WAAPA have staged a coup by securing the rights to Legally Blonde, the Broadway hit musical that somehow didn’t make Perth in its professional run in 2013.
It’s hard to imagine a better property for the academy. All the characters bar the lecherous law professor Callahan (Matthew Hyde) and the heart-of-gold hairdresser Paulette (the show stopping Taryn Ryan) are age-specific for the young cast, and the show’s high-energy music and dance fit their talent and energy to a T.
I’m always banging on about how much more than class assignments WAAPA’s shows are, and how you’d be mad to miss them.
And this time I’m deadly serious.

Go to the complete review in The West Australian 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Theatre: The Epic (★★★½)

Written and performed by Finn O’Branagain and Scott Sandwich
Blue Room Theatre
Until June 13

Anyone who saw Denis O’Hare’s magnificent An Iliad at last year’s PIAF will never forget the power of the stories he told, based on, but not shackled to, Homer’s great epic poem.
The performance poets Finn O’Branagain and Scott Sandwich take us back to the walls of Troy, and Homer, in first stop of a pole-to-pole expedition in search of the world’s elemental epic stories, and an entertaining and illuminating journey it is.
O’Branagain and Sandwich are at pains to tell us that The Epic is not a play, and they are not actors (they’re being a little overmodest there, but we take their point), but there’s more than enough drama in the stories to compensate.
We have been cut adrift from many of these legends, but they still lurk in the foundations of humanity’s culture, in our literature and language. O’Branagain and Sandwich do them, and us, a service retelling them in this satisfying, approachable show.

Go to the complete review in The West Australian  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Theatre: The Song Was Wrong (★★)

Jacinta Larcombe and George Shevtsov
Perth Theatre Company
Written and directed by Melissa Cantwell
Music composed and performed by Nick Wales
Set Design by Bruce McKinven
Sound design by Ben Collins
Lighting design by Matthew Marshall
Featuring Astrid Grant, Felix Jozeps, Jacinta Larcombe, Sarah Nelson, Thomas Papathanassiou, George Shevtsov
STC Studio until June 20

The Perth Theatre Company has put some significant runs on the board since it became the junior tenant of the State Theatre Centre in 2011, based on smart programming and some astute partnerships with independent companies like Weeping Spoon and Side Pony forged by its artistic director, Melissa Cantwell.
Cantwell has also demonstrated that she is a sharp, inventive director, often delivering productions with greater contemporary appeal than PTC’s larger upstairs neighbour, Black Swan.
But the company’s latest and most ambitious project, The Song Was Wrong, is a significant misstep.
New work needed to be tested, next door at the Blue Room or elsewhere – as many of PTT’s previous properties have been – before being given a full main stage production. It’s disconcerting that such a process wasn’t followed in this case.

Go to the complete review in The West Australian

Monday, June 1, 2015

Theatre: Glengarry Glenn Ross (★★★★)

Will O'Mahony and Peter Rowsthorn
by David Mamet
Black Swan State Theatre Company
Directed by Kate Cherry

Designed by Richard Roberts
With Luke Hewitt, Ben Mortley, Will O’Mahony, Kenneth Ransom, Peter Rowsthorn, Steve Turner and Damian Walshe-Howling

Heath Ledger Theatre
Until June 14

Once again Kate Cherry and Black Swan show the appetite and aptitude for the late 20th Century American theatre canon that made Laughter on the 23rd Floor the hit of their 2014 season.
Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet’s hugely influential drama of venality and the despairing criminality it breeds, might not have the irresistible exuberance of Neil Simon’s memoir, but it shares its energy and masterful use of language. Cherry’s vigorous, uncomplicated staging, supported by a talented, finely balanced cast, does justice to it in this impressive production at the Heath Ledger.

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian