Apr 18

THEATRE – MACHU PICCHU – STATE THEATRE – 3.5K

Image by Brett Boardman

Image by Brett Boardman

By Peter Maddern

It is not that long ago that those with severe disabilities – genetic or acquired – were near totally locked away from the general public view and treated very much as second or third grade citizens. Bit by bit, these mind sets have been and are being dismantled in favour of a world that is more empathetic that can go beyond  being responsive only to the tune of ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’

Bravely advancing this trend, Playwright Sue Smith draws upon her own experiences of being diagnosed with cancer and discovering what it is like having it. “Facing a life that is suddenly and shockingly compromised requires an entirely different type of courage [beyond the realisation that life itself is finite],” she writes in the play’s program. In Machu Picchu, the scene is set when married couple Paul and Gabby have their lives torn apart in a car accident that leaves Paul (Darren Gilshenan) a quadriplegic and Gabby (Lisa McCune) his wife wondering what all this means for her too.

Through various flashbacks that also involve their good friends Kim (Elena Carapetis) and Marty (Luke Joslin), daughter Lucy (Annabel Matheson) and shrink Lou (Renato Musolino), we visit their former lives of family and career and the related plans and those things that are so important that they get put off for another day, such as visiting the famed Machu Picchu, inspirations for both Paul and Gabby as things that are so perfect in formation and conception that they have lasted five hundred years.

Through Paul, Smith takes us through, at times painfully, the realities of these sudden and shocking compromises, from the indignities of engrossing boredom to passing solids to miss-timed erections. She also focuses on an all too common human response of making personal what is the tragedy of another that can manifest itself as selfishness or present as such to cloak innate fear.

While not wanting to promote a night of intense drama as the ultimate theatrical experience, nonetheless director Geordie Brookman’s trade mark infusion of farce into the excesses of many of his characters seems out of place here. The dash for laughs seems to come at the expense of the dissemination of the more insightful emotions evoked in the second half by the players as they seek some rationalisation and future amongst the ruin. In particular, both Gabby’s voyage of discovery and Paul’s reflective contemplations seem rushed and / or confused in the last scenes and the contrast with the aforementioned selfishness lost amidst the humour.

Having said that Darren Gilshenan is excellent as Paul managing his various roles, emotions and unhappinesses with aplomb. Lisa McCune is a delight and Luke Joslin’s Marty a strong column of sanity throughout. Jonathon Oxlade’s set skilfully combines the twin settings of hospital ward and external places, aided by Nigel Levings perceptive lighting.

This is subject matter and well researched, personal writing that deserved a more candid approach.

Kryztoff Rating  3.5K

Apr 11

THEATRE – HAMLET – Goodwood Institute – 4K

Hamlet1.jpeg-1006-283x400By Peter Maddern

After a month of, at times, mindless shows at the Fringe, taking on three hours of Shakespeare more than sweeps out of one any lingering post Madness malaise. Last winter Rob Croser’s Independent Theatre ambitiously took on The Great Gatsby at The Space; emboldened by its success, but now in its more familiar surroundings of the Goodwood Institute, the testing Hamlet is their focus.

The proportion of the modern audience who find Shakespeare a delight can often be matched or even exceeded by those for whom the language is an uncompromising challenge but if the widely held enjoyment of many of the Bard’s jokes in last night’s show is any measure, IT’s Hamlet has succeeded in making a four hundred year old text accessible to even the most inexperienced patron of the theatre.

Of course, none of that would be possible without a compelling player as Hamlet and in that Will Cox, as he did in Gatsby, triumphs. From schitzo to schemer, friend or foe, Cox convincingly swings his character’s mood and manipulations (or is it just his madness) to suit whoever he must. In fact Cox so dominates proceedings – not just within the script but with his presence on the stage – that his fellow players were spot on acknowledging his achievement during the curtain calls.

Indeed, in his wake, it was hard to identify others who shone; yet that in no way should be read as criticism. The nearest one got as an adequate foil, both metaphorically and physically was Jett Zitkovic, confident and compelling as Guildenstern but more particularly as Laertes. Both Madeleine Herd (as Ophelia) and Bronwyn Ruciak (as Gertrude) had their moments (to the extent women get a say in Shakespeare’s world) and David Roach also hit heights as Polonius and the Gravedigger, where his leadership made the whole cemetery scene a delight.

No review would be complete without mention of the staging. Rob Croser and Roach’s stage design triumph where less is more. With a Danny Boyle flourish, the stage is one large circular disc sloping down towards the audience, making the aforementioned grave digging stanza particularly captivating. More than effective use of side lighting by Susan Grey-Gardner kept the tempestuous themes of the play to the fore with much of it appropriately played out seemingly in the dark of night.

All in all, Hamlet is another triumph by Rob Croser and his team with Will Cox more than worth the price of admission.

Apr 07

THEATRE – OLD TIMES – Space – 3.5K

By Peter Maddern

Old Times, one of Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter’s ‘memory plays’ brings together happily married Kate (Charlotte Rose) and Deeley (Marc Clement) in their well-appointed London flat with Anna (Rachael Wegener), someone who lived with Anna twenty years before.

There, the trio tease and tease out memories of each other and their times together; some recalled better than others, same events noted for different reasons, others are stories that may reveal selves previously hidden. It’s as much plumbing the recesses of the minds as a battle of wits for some kind of rhetorical supremacy between them all.

Tony Knight’s direction elicits excellent performances for each of his cast, often moving his players around the floor like chess pieces as the tactical battle between their characters plays out. Mark Heuer’s stage is deceptively simple with the creative use of three large mirror or picture frames at its rear that keep characters removed from the immediate nonetheless imbedded in the view of the audience.

For such a short piece, the tension builds inexorably to its ambiguous conclusion with the intervention of Bryan Ferry a melodic treat.

Kryztoff Rating  3.5K

Apr 02

THEATRE – THE PHILADELPHIA STORY – Arts Theatre – 4K

By Peter Maddern

High society has as many risks as it does attractions and with Philadelphia’s Lord family enough stories to keep the gutter press thriving, whether in Pittsburgh, New York or anywhere else in the United States. And who needs social media when two journalists turn up a day before Tracy Lord’s proposed second wedding to capture it all under the guise of being Tracy ex-husband’s (Dexter’s) friends.

Written in the 1930s by Philip Barry, The Philadelphia Story plays to the playwright’s social commentary strengths with less than flattering portrayals of most of the characters, yet we keep up our inner hope that all will work out well for Tracy (Lauren Renee) and her fiancé, the straight laced up and comer George Kitteredge (Brad Martin).

Director Kerrin White has chosen an orthodox retelling of this yarn though its possibilities for being adapted for the current time and another location are delicious. His and Vincent Eustace’s set is luscious – the drawing room well appointed, orderly and dripping with respectability  and the garden back-dropped by ivy but open in front of it for endless possibilities as the night and then next morning arrive.

Much is asked of Lauren Renee in the lead role and she delivers a strong performance that encapsulates a required socially solid veneer that adorns a wild spirit. James Whitrow as her unexpected suitor, Mike Connor, one of the two journalists, also commands the stage with two-faced bravado that sits well with his character’s somewhat desperate career and financial position.

Amongst a more than satisfactory set of performances, Henny Walters’ Dinah, Tracy’s loose lipped younger sister is a delight who captured the imagination of the opening night audience and John Leigh Gray as Uncle Willie is also excellent as the well-meaning family member who quickly becomes very uncertain just what role he is meant to be playing in the series of intrigues that roll out.

A fine night’s entertainment, with a preference for seating in the front half of the Arts Theatre as its area challenged some of the performers for getting their lines across to the paupers at the rear.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

Mar 21

CATS – Festival Theatre – 4.5K

CATS_editorialBy Peter Maddern

Nearly 35 years ago, the premiere of Cats in London ushered in a new wave of musical and new musical maestro team, that of Andrew Lloyd Webber (solo) and Cameron MacKintosh. It is no exaggeration to say all that has come since in musicals emanates from that moment; where pizzazz, dance and lights can overwhelm any shortcomings in the quality of the music.

T.S. Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ with additions, have stood the test of time in being full of appeal to both adults as well as children; stories of the weak, the powerful, the evil and the wise. That it requires a cast of 25 to make this all happen speaks volumes to the enormity of the production that now returns to Adelaide after what must be near on 30 years.

The first half is less appealing than the second with its abundance of dance to supplement some at time repetitious tunes. But Grizabella’s (Delia Hanah) soaring Memories near its conclusion provides the hook that keeps it all together and after the break Cats hits its stride with confidence and zest with its string of memorable tunes including Macavity, Mr Mistoffelees and the reprising of Memories.

The cast work tirelessly, at various times down amongst the audience, with their feline features fresh and full of fire – one can only imagine how far in advance of the overture being struck up that the face painters start to ply their trade.

Cats is great fun, a joy for all ages and given its rarity in this town an event not to be missed – musical theatre of this richness is a privilege not a right.

Kryztoff Rating   4.5K

Mar 17

The Independent Project presents: The Last 25 – Edinburgh Castle Hotel – 5K

The Independent ProjectBy Olivia Henry

The Independent Project presents: The Last 25 is the final instalment of an epic trilogy featuring music throughout the decades. This year, The Independent Project played the greatest hits from the last 25 years, and as a 24 year-old, I was delighted to find that I knew – literally – EVERY. SINGLE. SONG. on their list.

 

Before I go any further, I need to mention that I know these guys. The bass player is a good friend of mine, and I had to keep in mind that my review needed to be honest and unbiased. However, I overheard three people say they now want this band to play at their wedding. Another few people grabbed me to ask me if they could come to future shows and thanked me repeatedly for inviting them along; and after sending an initial review to a third party who also went to the show, I was told I wasn’t being passionate enough and that I didn’t need to hold back from giving them the praise they deserve. So here we go.

 

The Independent Project is a 4 piece band with witty, down to earth guys who also happen to be bursting with talent. The brilliant drummer, Chris Neale, sang One Week by Barenaked Ladies (while drumming!?!!) without missing a beat and left the audience speechless. Hilarious bass player, Laurence May, kept the banter alive between songs and ensured even the safety announcements made the audience giggle. Infinitely cool pianist/guitarist, Julian Opie, jumped into the crowd, much to the excitement of the girls around him; and the incredibly versatile lead singer/guitarist, Max Garcia-Underwood, nailed everything from gangster rap to Taylor Swift.

 

With great music, dancing, and a lot of laughs, this show has a bit of everything. And thankfully, the covers aren’t lame or cheesy, either. Whether they’re mashing John Mayer with Ed Sheeran or expertly juggling the audience participation from Outkast’s Hey Ya and Timberlake’s Senorita, they make performing look like another Friday night jam sesh. Having just returned from a cruise where an experienced, 7-piece band supported by a backing track didn’t impress me, I was surprised at what a 4-piece could do. This band is tight.

 

The Last 25 show is finished for now, but keep an eye on this band, because judging from previous years, their shows will only get better.

 

5K

 

Check out their Facebook page for future shows and bookings.

Mar 13

Dave Thornton – So On and So Forth – Studio 7 – The Garden of Unearthly Delights – 4K

By Olivia Henry

 

You may recognise Dave Thornton from ABC’s Upper Middle Bogan or Comedy Channel’s Just for Laughs Stand-Up series. Although this is an impressive resume, I knew for sure I would enjoy the show when I approached the box office to pick up my tickets, the lady serving me exclaimed, “oooh!” as she printed them out.

 

Melbourne-based Thornton is an animated, true-blue Aussie bloke. In his new show, “So On and So Forth,” he strolls onto the stage and immediately starts chatting to the audience. While this is not unusual for stand-up comedy, Thornton’s ability to engage with the audience, combined with his ability to tell a good ol’ yarn makes performer-audience banter that much more entertaining.

 

The “Thorn-diggity” covers a number of topics, including his recent 10-day vow of silence, disciplining kids and being heckled in public. His tone is genuine and down-to-earth, which makes it feel a little like your best friend is telling you a series of hilarious stories for an hour.

 

Thornton is a cheeky guy with a knack for storytelling, and would probably be the life of the party when he’s not on stage. While the Fringe is wrapping up, you can catch him for one more show, tonight at 7PM.

 

4K

To grab last minute tickets, click here

Mar 12

Fringe 2016 Dani Cabs: Poncho Orange – 3.5K

Poncho Orange was a show of firsts. Never before have I had a fringe performer feed me part of a (delicious) mango, nor had I had my face painted, nor joined an entire audience in an orchestrated conga.

Dani Cabs creates a hilarious on stage persona for this show, drawing the audience in with well choreographed musical acts and engaging physical comedy. There is very little use of language, but Cabs uses this to his advantage. Minimalist vocal humour complimented by clownish stunts makes up the majority of the show.

This show builds to a hilarious crescendo involving the entire audience. However the earlier skits struggle at times to fully engage the audience. Many of the jokes received ample support, but a few need either an audience more likely to participate or to be further refined.

This is an artist who knows comedy and has a well rounded show, some of the sketches are foot stompingly funny, but they need an audience willing to get on board.

 

3.5K

Mar 10

Fringe 2016 – Unplotted Potter – 4.5K

By Julia Cudsi

A Scriptease offering for the 2016 Fringe, Unplotted Potter follows the trend of a fully improvised, hour-long show. The premise of this performance is to select at random three names of obscure characters from the Harry Potter stories, let the audience pick one and then tell that character’s story in a completely improvised play.

Now, full disclosure – this reviewer is not a Harry Potter fan. And yes, I know what you’re thinking – I was pretty much the only person in the entire Tandanya Theatre who felt that way. But despite this obviously glaring hole in my literary tastes, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of what was a hilarious show.

Under the spotlight on Wednesday night was Viktor Krumm, a Bulgarian wizard who travelled to Hogwarts to participate in the Quidditch Cup (yes, I had to Google that). Under the direction of the Scriptease team, he pined madly for Hermione, decamped to the Northern English Quidditch team (as oopposed to the Central England team, of course), and eventually found his place amongst the house elves.

Always impressive, the improv model really shows the versatility of the actors and their ability to think on their feet. Despite having no script whatsoever, last night’s performance of Unplotted Potter was seamlessly entertaining, absolutely hilarious and thoroughly engaging.

If I had the time, I would go every night to see each different show.

4.5K

Mar 10

FRINGE 2016: Half Hour Hamlet – 4K

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By Amy Nancarrow.

Ever been to or read a Shakespeare play and had absolutely no idea what’s going on?

Comedian Patrick Hercamp felt it was time that Shakespeare was accessible to the masses, and so Half Hour Hamlet was born. You guessed it: it’s Shakespeare’s famous play wrapped up in half an hour, complete with Hercamp playing all of the characters. Full of energy, Hercamp gets the audience involved with whooping and cheering, sound effects for the death of a character, and so much energy that it’s hard to not get sucked in to the Bard’s story.

Set in the fantastic Producers Hotel Garden venue, Half Hour Hamlet is a great show for people of all ages, and both the Shakespeare buffs and novices alike. Hercamp’s Shakespearean background and comedic flair (developed through his work with comedy troupe Sound and Fury) are the perfect combination for this entertaining show. Hercamp manages to distill Hamlet down to its essential elements, and encourages the audience to go on and read the play or see a production. Whilst a comedy, there’s a sense that Hercamp really loves the play, and it has a distinct reverence for the Bard.

If you’re looking for a show that is genuinely entertaining for everyone, Half Hour Hamlet is the perfect choice.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

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