Category: Theatre Reviews

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I’m Not Satisfied! The Problem With Hamilton: An American Musical

Hamilton: An American Musical is an unquestionable modern phenomenon. It has supplanted Chicago, Wicked, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat as my favourite musical of all time. It’s a rap-based musical almost any naysayers of the genre in general should at least be able to stomach, its music is incredible, its lyrics succinctly poignant, its emotions conveyed brilliantly with the fervour that one can’t help but associate with Yanks in general (Yanks very much being the correct term for this crop of historical figures, given their status as New York natives).

But I’m calling bullshit on the romantic plot lines of this musical. Read more …

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Fantastic Tips and Where To Find Them “O-Show” Review

O-Week, or Orientation Week, has finally arrived and feelings of anxiety, nervousness and apprehension are certainly brimming in most of students’ minds. These sentiments are shared between first year students, and returning students as some are experiencing the University for the first time or the last time. Thankfully, the MUST (Monash University Student Theatre) company have developed a unique and succinct method of easing everyone’s woe in their hilariously educational “O-Show”, Fantastic Tips and Where To Find Them. Read more …

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THEATRE REVIEW: CLOC’s Jesus Christ Superstar

Walking into a CLOC show, one always expects something fairly impressive. Be it the atmosphere and grandeur of St Kilda’s National Theatre, or simply the company’s proven track record of staging consistently extraordinary examples of musical theatre: you know from the moment you take your seat something remarkable is about to happen. However, I think it is fair to say not even the CLOC loyal were prepared for something as unique and striking as this year’s October performance of Jesus Christ Superstar; in which director Shaun Kingma brought to life a show that exists on its own level among amateur and professional shows alike.

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THEATRE REVIEW: Monash Shakespeare Company’s “Twelfth Night”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The editorial staff at Radio Monash would like to make it clear that the writer of this article was involved, in some capacity, with the pre-production of the musical. Though we trust that this does not influence the writers judgement, the team at Radio Monash feels as though this statement is needed for the sake of transparency and proper ethics.

William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is a classic tale of romance, scheming and mistaken identity. Twins Viola and Sebastian are separated in a shipwreck, both assuming the other to be dead. Viola dresses up as a boy and falls in love with Duke Orsino, who is in love with Olivia, who, thinking she is a man, falls in love with Viola.

The Monash Shakespeare Company’s production of the bard’s story was brave and creative. While it had some truly hilarious moments of physical comedy, homage to the text felt lacking at times. Although ultimately entertaining, many aspects of the performance didn’t quite “fadge.”

One may think that the story of Twelfth Night is complicated enough as is, which is possibly why the slightly misguided choice to introduce the concept of time travel into the narrative just didn’t work. Aside from making a play which is already difficult to follow at best of times more complicated, the set itself was poorly designed. The large time machine in the centre of the stage took up a lot of space, rendering a large part of the small performance area unusable. Considering the time machine was only used three times throughout the show, the restrictions its presence imposed makes it difficult to justify. Read more …

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THEATRE REVIEW: Beaumaris Theatre’s “Avenue Q”

Remarkably unprepared I walked into the Beaumaris Theatre having not so much as googled the synopsis of “Avenue Q”. Billed as a twisted version of Sesame Street for adults, the show takes place in a street of the same name in which puppets, monsters and humans live together in harmony, more or less. Our central character Princeton, played by the incredible Josh Pratt, arrives on the street having recently completed his BA in English and at a point of cross-roads in his life unsure of where his life will take him. “Avenue Q” explores the life of your typical 20-something graduate entering the real world, a first look at real adulthood, navigating love, money and finding a purpose in life. The musical teaches us that sometimes life sucks, through plenty of painfully relatable misfortunes presented as humorous musical acts, puppetry and a hilarious script. Read more …

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REVIEW: Winterfall’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”

Review written by Saskia Penn and Connor Johnston:

Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is an iconic piece of 20th Century Americana, often considered one of the greatest scripts in theatrical history. Winterfall Theatre’s current season of the classic play presents a raw, realistic, and compelling interpretation of the complex material and its utter success is owed, in no small part to the miraculous performances presented by the accomplished cast.

The three hour-long study in the dynamics of marriage is strung with an incredible, palpable tension throughout, the claustrophobic atmosphere thick with bourbon. At times highly absurd, at times strangely funny, at times genuinely frightening and at times truly challenging, this post modern giant dances like the wind on the edge between reality and illusion. Through the violent throes of breakdown, the deepest, darkest freudian truths and fantasies of the characters are revealed, allowing the audience a rare opportunity for genuine intellectual stimulation. Read more …

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REVIEW: Red Stitch’s “THE HONEY BEES”

As a pioneer of showcasing Australian talent both on stage and behind the scenes, it is no secret that Red Stitch Actor’s Theatre have built up a certain reputation amongst the Melbourne theatre scene to produce high-quality performances season after season. Following the success of “The Village Bike”, “Splendor”, and “The River” earlier this year, the world premiere of “The Honey Bees” has been developed through the INK program, working to encourage and give platform to works of Australian playwrights. Written by Caleb Lewis and Directed by Ella Cadwell, “The Honey Bees” is a story of empire, family and unspoken truths that threaten to destroy the already fractured bonds between a group of characters linked by both blood and ambition.  Read more …

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REVIEW: OXAGEN’s “THE WEDDING SINGER”

Based on the 1998 Adam Sandler movie of the same name; “The Wedding Singer” follows the story of Robbie Hart, a charming and entertaining musician from Ridgefield, New Jersey. Left at the altar by his long-time fiancé and having developed feelings for his unhappily engaged co-worker Julia, Robbie’s story explores the confusion and temptations of a forbidden love with an incredibly humorous script and robust musical score. This week Oxagen Productions are staging the iconic musical at Genazzano College in Kew.

There’s no question that Ryan Purdy’s performance carries the show, bringing to life the charismatic and lovably naive ‘Robbie Hart’ by channeling the aspects of Adam Sandler’s original portrayal that made the story so iconic. Vocally Purdy excels, nailing each and every song thrown his way. Similarly impressive is Maddie Wooster’s ‘Holly’ who quickly becomes a crowd favourite due to both the sharpness of her character and her magnetic stage presence. Stefanie Fazzari’s ‘Julia’ fares quite well too, especially vocally. However, she struggles in some aspects of her character. Whether it be a fault of the sound mixing or a lack in Fazzari’s diction, her performance is quite difficult to understand and many sections of dialog sound quite muffled. Benito Veneziano and Johnathon White make up the other two thirds of “The Wedding Band”, and while both are responsible for a number of the show’s comedic highlights (George’s Prayer being suitably hilarious), there were moments in which they broke character and struggled with some of the material thrown their way. The remainder of the main cast unfortunately failed to make much of an impression – Alex Dehn as ‘Glen’ aced his character though struggled vocally, Kim Siemensma as ‘Grandma Rose’ was a casualty of poor direction, and Merryn Degnan as ‘Linda’ produced both one of the show’s highlights in “A Note From Linda” and one of the show’s most uncomfortable moments in “Let Me Come Home”. Read more …

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REVIEW: PEP Productions’ “The Laramie Project”

“The Laramie Project” is a script I’ve read and studied many times before, but actually have never seen performed live on stage before. Constructed purely from interviews conducted by the the Tectonic Theatre Company with the locals of Laramie, the play details the life and death of Matthew Sheppard, who at the age of 21 fell victim to a vicious hate crime, tortured and murdered by local boys Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson on the outskirts of his home town. The play serves to translate to the audience the effect Sheppard’s murder had on the global debates regarding homophobia and hate crime legislation, as well as the impact it had on the small town in which it occurred, through the format of “Verbatim Theatre”. Due to both the abnormal nature of the play’s design as well as the confronting nature of its content, “The Laramie Project” remains one of the most difficult plays to perform and get right. However, due to an incredible amount of effort, talent and reverence, it is a play that PEP Productions absolutely nails. Read more …

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REVIEW: Blue Saint’s “Songs for a New World”

“Songs for a New World” was without question one of the most unique and abstract theatre shows I’ve ever attended. Not as comprehensive as a musical, though not as clean cut as your standard song cycle, “Songs” was a show that was incredibly demanding on both its cast and creative team, requiring them to create a coherent experience and effectively translate an extensive number of stories and characters in a limited amount of time, with a total lack of dialogue. In the program, Director Luke Joslin talked of the difficulties associated with infusing the song cycle with a certain ‘theatricality’, which is no easy task. It is a challenge however that Joslin met with great effect, having linked these different characters not by narrative but by tone and style. Married with an incredibly effective set and lighting design that aided audiences in establishing themselves in the narrative, Joslin and Blue Saint have staged a show with more significance and meaning than most productions found even in Melbourne’s biggest theatres.

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REVIEW: ARTEFACT THEATRE COMPANY’S “PROOF”

“Proof” marks the second time this year where I’ve had the privilege of attending the debut performance of a brand new company and, to put it plainly, once again Melbourne has gained yet another strong platform upon which to promote and showcase groundbreaking theatre. The company, Artefact Theatre, derives its name from the idea that “powerful theatre leaves something behind with an audience, buried deep within their minds”. With “Proof”, Artefact have produced a deeply relevant, striking and moving piece of theatre that is sure to meet their goals and stay with their audience for a while yet.

The script itself by David Auburn has an incredible amount of appeal, and lends itself effortlessly to Artefact’s core philosophy. Dealing with the themes of family, loss, sacrifice, depression and ultimately survival, Proof’s greatest strength is that it quickly centres in on its characters. The show is quite cathartic in the way some of its themes are unapologetically confronting, but never dealt with in bad taste. Regardless of how serious the show sounds, make no mistake; it is very funny. Director Emily O’Brien-Brown has achieved the perfect balance of comedy and heartbreak to produce something very special indeed. Read more …

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REVIEW: Babirra’s “Mary Poppins”

Mary Poppins is perhaps one of the most iconic, yet simultaneously underrated musicals of our time. The story of a family who, despite appearances, are thoroughly unhappy and the magical nanny who brings them together is one that has touched the hearts of many people all over the world. It is the beauty and warming nature of the Banks’ journey as a family that forms the heart of the production, which Director Chris Bradtke has brought to life in Babirra’s first show of 2016 playing at the Whitehouse Centre this week.

When casting a character whose brief includes being “practically perfect” in every possible way, a number of challenges arise. However daunting the task, Babirra have managed to hit the goldmine with Stephanie John who provided a performance that effortlessly met the expectations set by such an iconic character. For the entirety of the show’s duration, John captured the perfect balance of sternness and charm that is so integral to Poppins’ personality. Vocally, John never showed any sign of fatigue or exhaustion and produced a performance reminiscent of Julie Andrews’ original portrayal. Angelo De Cata’s portrayal of Bert was a standout as well, though did seem a little inconsistent at times. There were a few short moments in the first act where De Cata struggled, however his infectious energy and heightened enthusiasm for the role did well to disguise any difficulties. Read more …