Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Theatre: Blithe Spirit (★★★)

By Noel Coward
Black Swan State Theatre Company
Directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler
Set and costumes designed by Bryan Woltjen
Lighting designed by Jon Buswell
Sound designer and composer Ash Gibson Greig
With Adam Booth, Adriane Daff, Michelle Fornasier, Ella Hetherington, Michael Loney, Alison van Reeken and Jo Morris

Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre
Until 9 August

It’s hard to imagine a less opportune time to premiere a drawing room comedy about a shallow, self-absorbed chap and the dueling ghosts of his temperamental wives than the middle of 1941. 

Human nature being the resilient creature it is, though, Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit was a smash hit. It repeated its success on Broadway and on film, and remains one of those always-on-somewhere-in-the-world perennial hits.O
On opening night, by and large, the strong cast seemed uncomfortable and halting. Much of this must have been due to the late withdrawal through illness of Roz Hammond, who was to play Madame Arcati.  Her replacement, the impeccable Alison van Reeken, read from a script with skill and performed with some bravura, but the inevitable uncertainty this created was palpable.
Of course allowances must be made in such unfortunate circumstances, and it’s unwise to make hasty critical assertions under the circumstances. I’m curious to see whether, once it is bedded back in, this production has all the fluidity and √©lan it needs to succeed.

Read the complete review in The West Australian

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Theatre: Songbird (★★★)

By Shakara Walley
Imprint Productions in association with Yirra Yaakin
directed by Ian Wilkes
designed by Patrick Howe
performed by Bethany Cooper, James Taylor and Zac James
Blue Room Theatre
10 - 19 July, 2014
James Taylor, Zac James and Bethany Cooper (pic: Jamie Breen)

 Shakara Walley’s interest is in the personal qualities and attitudes to life, family and friendship her Indigenous characters possess, rather than the particular issues they face as Aboriginal people.  Essentially, they live the same stories as everyone does, and respond in ways that may be influenced, but are not defined, by their Aboriginality.
Walley's approach to indigenous theatre is innovative and impressive. It will be fascinating to watch it progress.

Read the complete review in The West Australian

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Dance theatre: Gudirr Gudirr (★★★★½)

By Dalisa Pigram
Marrugeku in association with Yirra Yaakin
Directed and choreographed by Koen Augustijnen
Performed and choreographed by Dalisa Pigram
Singer and songwriter Stephen Pigram
Designed by Vernon Ah Kee
STC Studio
7 - 9 July, 2015

This extraordinary solo performance by Broome artist Dalisa Pigram, working with a creative team from Australia, Belgium and The Netherlands, is an example of the powerful synthesis of tens of thousands of years of continuous cultural endeavour with the skills and confidence of contemporary indigenous performing art.
The result is a mighty hour of high concept performance; dance, circus, martial arts, comedy, cultural and social witness combined.
What a shame that this wonderful West Australian work only comes to Perth two years after it premiered, and just for three performances. I sincerely hope it will be back again, and for longer, so more of us can appreciate its beauty and power.

Go to the complete review in The West Australian

Theatre: Storm Boy (★★★★½)

By Tom Holloway
from the novel by Colin Thiele
Barking Gecko and Sydney Theatre Company
Directed by John Sheedy
Designed by Michael Scott-Mitchell
Lighting design by Damien Cooper
Sound design by Kingsley Reeve
Puppetry directed by Peter Wilson
Performed by Otis Pavlovic (alternating with Kai Lewins), Jimi Bani, Julian Garner, Anthony Mayor and Phil Dean Walford
Heath Ledger Theatre
Until July 11

Barking Gecko and the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Colin Thiele’s Storm Boy, the much-loved children’s story that has been sensitively and economically adapted for the stage by Tom Holliday, makes a short but welcome return to the Heath Ledger Theatre for the first week of the school holidays.
It features an entirely new cast from the original 2013 production, but its strengths and virtues are entirely intact.
This production is a final encore for Barking Gecko’s former artistic director John Sheedy. There’s no doubt about the legacy of creativity and ambition he’s left to our exceptional theatre company for young people.

I reviewed Storm Boy in its first Perth season in 2013, and this review of its return season inevitably contains some self-plagiarism! Link here for the complete version of this review, and here for the original 2013 review, both in The West Australian.