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Category Archives: Australian Stage

The Bugalugs Bum Thief

Playing at The Street Theatre this week is Monkey Baa’s latest incarnation of one of Australia’s best-named plays, The Bugalugs Bum Thief. No, it’s not quite Shakespeare, but it’s closer than one might assume.

Its central character, Skeeter Anderson, just one young member of Bugalugs’ coastal community, wakes up one morning to find his bum is missing, which proves inconvenient for him. He soon finds that just about everyone in town has had their bum stolen, including his friend Mick Misery, for whom it is not so inconvenient, as it means his mum can’t smack him. The advantages of life without a bum, however, do not prove to outweigh the disadvantages, and Skeeter sets out to identify the bum thief and locate everyone’s bums.

The entire town is brought to life through the generous energy of just three performers who present mums, dads, teachers, police and sailors as well as their main role as a child. It may not be universally accepted as a compliment, but Gideon Cordover, Carl Batchelor and Mark Dessaix make excellent children, which is particularly helpful when…

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Iolanthe

The trouble with satire is that it can so easily come across as melodrama. Satire is incredibly dependent on nuances in timing and expression, and unfortunately, Queanbeyan Players’ production of Iolanthe falls all too often on the melodramatic side of the divide.

Iolanthe, oddly enough, is not really about Iolanthe, but about her son, Strephon, and his love, Phyllis. A fairy, banished 24 years ago for marrying a mortal, Iolanthe is restored to the fairy community, and introduces to them her son, who it turns out is half fairy and half mortal (the lower half being the mortal bit). He is planning to marry Phyllis, a ward under the guardianship of the Lord Chancellor, who expects her to marry a member of the House of Lords…

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Brecht: Bilbao and Beyond

In a very short season at The Street Theatre is Brecht: Bilbao and Beyond. Not a play, but a series of songs, fables, poems and excerpts of plays, all written by the impeccable German wordsmith, Bertholt Brecht, and performed by two veterans of the stage whose presence is gentle, inviting and absolutely engaging.

Tracing elements of Brecht’s life and work from birth to death (and then back a little), we are treated to just a few gems of his amazingly generous humour and capriciousness…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 

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Crushed

Life is made up of a few critical moments separated by a lot of thinking about how we should have responded in them. Melita Rowston‘s play, Crushed, now playing at New Theatre, explores the struggle of dealing with regrettable decisions when they coincide with a disaster.

Crushed is the story of three school friends reunited 22 years after the disappearance of their mutual friend, Susie. Susie’s body was never found, but her shirt—that characteristic late 80s ‘Poison’ shirt—has just been discovered and the case is reopened. Kelly returns from Prague and finds a bed at Jason’s house first, then ends up moving to a room in Dazza’s pub. Sexual tensions between the three are never resolved, but that pales into insignificance against the doubt…

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Posted by on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 in Australian Stage, New Theatre, Pure Theatre, Theatre

 

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The Dark Side of Midnight

Political turmoil is an incubator of dramatic writing, and historical plays about moments of political change are relatively common. Less common are plays set in moments of political turmoil that are about the lives of people who lived through these moments, rather than about the political agitators who created them. This is a shame, as Tessa Bremner’s play The Dark Side of Midnight demonstrates with its very heartfelt story about British colonists living through the Partition of India…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 
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Posted by on Friday, 28 October 2011 in Australian Stage, Free Rain Theatre, Pure Theatre

 

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Four Flat Whites in Italy

I suspect this may be the first time I’ve seen a New Zealand play on an Australian stage. It’s a novel irony to hear actors we know to be Australian making disparaging remarks about Australia in a New Zealand accent!

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Love Song

The warmth of John Kolvenbach’s play Love Song is brought to the fore in Centrepiece‘s production, which opened at The Q in Queanbeyan tonight. This play brings a vibrancy to themes that can be cold and stark, drawing humour and humanity into some otherwise dark places.

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MP

As a playwright who calls Canberra home, the thought of writing a play about politicians or politics has crossed my mind a few times. I’ve even started once, before giving up in disgust at the depressing result of that folly. I’m glad, though, that Alana Valentine gave it a better shot when she sat down to write MP.

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22 Short Plays

Opening with a convivial vibe at The Street Theatre tonight, 22 Short Plays by David Finnigan is a series of shorts carefully drawn together from longer works and staged by Melbourne’s MKA.

It should not be taken as a bad thing that I really don’t want to see the more complete scripts these shorts came from. As they stand in this context, they’re often funny and always clever. While most of the characters tend towards either caricature or the absurd, there is the odd moment when something jumps out as rather more insightful, and the absurdity of the real world dwarfs the absurdity on stage. But it’s not often this kind of concept drama plays out well in long form, and perhaps Finnigan is a master of the short form.

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 

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Playing Gertrude’s Horatio

Although I grew up in that period when Shakespeare was well and truly out of favour in New South Welsh schools, I have loved his work ever since I first gave Hamlet the time of day at the age of 21. This was the year when Kenneth Branagh put the whole damn thing on screen, and even that self-indulgent marathon wasn’t enough to dampen my enthusiasm. Shakespeare’s plays, layered as they are with so many diverse readings, are always ready to yield another insight or provoke another idea. Among my favourite of Shakespeare’s provocations is Tom Stoppard’s magnificent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. This play, derived from Hamlet, features I think the best description of theatre ever devised. Offering a performance to a pair of potential customers, the leader of a performance troupe explains their creative oeuvre:

“We’re more of the love, blood, and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can’t give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory.”

The importance of blood, or more precisely, violence, can’t be underestimated in Shakespeare’s work…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 

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Blood Brothers

There is an awful lot of speculation out there about the bonds between twins. Whether it’s about finishing each others’ sentences or remotely sensing trouble in each other’s lives, twins arouse a lot of speculation about whether certain behaviours are innate or acquired. Such speculations, I suspect, were part of the inspiration for Blood Brothers, now playing at The Q in Queanbeyan…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 

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42nd Street

Erindale was alive tonight with Philo’s opening of 42nd Street. The froth and bubble of Broadway is generous if not really enlightening, and the cast delivered a fine performance of a quaint old musical.

The story is that of a talented girl who dreams of singing on Broadway. Her talent noticed, she lands a role in the chorus line and when she accidentally trips the leading lady, fracturing her ankle, she manages to take her place. Woops, did I give away the ending? No, I think that was the writer…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 10 March 2011 in Australian Stage, Canberra Theatre, Musical Theatre, Theatre

 

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Look Back in Anger

Ten pound Poms let out of the nursing home may enjoy a trip down memory lane with Paris Hat’s production of Look Back in Anger, but there is much more to this play for those of us who didn’t live through post-war England. This is an opportunity to experience a first-rate performance of a play that was pivotal in the development of modern theatre…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 

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Love, Lies and Hitler

How often have you wanted to have one of your heroes sit on your shoulder and tell you how to make decisions about your life? Wouldn’t it be nice, just occasionally, to have George Calombaris in the kitchen while you cook, chatting and offering helpful advice? Or to have the ever-so-experienced Henry VIII providing his support during a marital spat? Decision-making would be so much easier with such a support mechanism in place. As long as you were willing to surrender something of your own will to this mentor…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 

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The Sweetest Thing

Growing organically from its warm minimal set in the cozy downstairs theatre at Belvoir, The Sweetest Thing is a sad and funny story about the intersection between love and family. Playwright Verity Laughton weaves a complex tale that focuses on the emotional journey of its characters very strongly thanks to being relieved of the burden of chronology. Despite a dynamic plot arc and potentially confusing time changes, the story of Sarah, played by the wonderful Diana Glenn shines through with excellent clarity.

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 
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Posted by on Friday, 12 November 2010 in Arts Radar, Australian Stage, B Sharp, Belvoir

 

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A Well Hung Parliament

Shortis and Simpson’s brand is safe with this latest topical offering, which provides plenty of laughs and many gentle jabs at Canberra’s more itinerant population. Rhyming Gillard with ‘kill hard’ and pointing out some of the delicious ironies of our new parliament (such as the two Wyatts and one Wong), these veterans of the Canberra stage were as amusing as ever, keeping the audience enthralled throughout.

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The Clever Country

It is unusual, I think, to hear about a play inspired by a statistic. It is not encouraging, either. Nonetheless, Bruce Hoogendoorn‘s play, The Clever Country, currently playing at The Street Theatre, takes as its theme Australia’s falling science enrolments, and does so—perhaps surprisingly, considering its inspiration—with great humour and an intriguing plotline…

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 

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The Berry Man

I’ve never really liked stories about the Vietnam War. They have a tendency to either be so factual that they’re dead boring, or so esoteric that they’re unrelatable to anyone who didn’t live through that time. Patricia Cornelius has deftly sidestepped both potential faults in her heartwarming play, The Berry Man.

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Smart Casual

A great energy filled Canberra’s southern reaches tonight as local comedians warmed up a more-casual-than-smart audience for Smart Casual. Jokes about bogans (and boganism) predictably abounded, and were well-recieved by their targets. As well as these almost-obligatory barbs there were quite a few gems, particularly from the very sharp-witted Tom Gibson…

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The Girls

We have a fascination with firsts. Having our first female prime minister has a sense of novelty about it, which would probably be equalled by a first Aboriginal prime minister. Both the reality and the possibility, however, are little more than symbols of a maturing atmosphere of equality; they offer nothing of real substance in themselves. The Girls, I think offers something of greater substance in its diverse vignettes around the theme of womanhood in a postmodern world.

The rest of this post is published on Australian Stage.

 

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