Review: Blood Brothers – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

Image: Photography by Trent Rouillon

Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers (1983) is supposedly based on Alexandre Dumas’ novella, The Corsican Brothers (1844). Each tells the tale of babies separated at birth; each spans decades, and there is love, betrayal, death – Blood Brothers does seem to have Dumas’ stamp of high drama – but, dig a little deeper into Russell’s own life, and you’ll find the seed of Blood Brothers was planted in his own childhood.

When the Olivier Award winning West End production of Blood Brothers closed in 2012, after 24 years, Mr. Russell gave a rare interview which shines some light on the matter. “I am very interested in nature versus nurture. When I look at myself or catch sight of a gesture I make and see my father … I also know I might have drunk myself to death at 30. Luckily, I was saved by my in-laws, who nurtured me.” He also speaks at length about the lack of trust he felt for his father, and his belief that the extensive amount of time spent with his mother, grandmother and aunts growing up enabled him to write convincing female characters. Continue reading Review: Blood Brothers – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

Review: Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine: La Boite Indie and Tamarama Rock Surfers at Roundhouse Theatre

Image: Sarah Walker

Indie theatre – you just never know what you’re going to get, do you? I mean, you can grab a paper programme and try to guess as you sit yourself down next to some skinny-jean clad, high-haired hipster and a couple of girls dressed like your nanna, but really, anything could happen. It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, and sometimes it’s just spectacular.

The 2012 Melbourne Fringe and (the other) Greenroom’s award-winning Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine, directed by Scarlett McGlynn has been brewing since November 2011, when Tim Spencer conducted his first interview with “Not Nick,” a male sex worker. What followed was a series of interviews designed to reveal, challenge and ultimately be shown theatrically to “open up a dialogue around the inherently complex issue of sex work.” Continue reading Review: Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine: La Boite Indie and Tamarama Rock Surfers at Roundhouse Theatre

Review: Animal Farm – shake and stir theatre company: Empire Theatre (Toowoomba)

Images: Stephen Henry

shake and stir are no strangers to Queensland theatre and, now that they’ve completed two national tours, are becoming familiar to audiences Australia-wide.

Last week I caught up with their latest production, a re-staging of their 2011, award-winning production of Animal Farm.  Adapted by Nick Skubij from George Orwell’s 1944 satirical novel about the horrors of totalitarianism under Stalin and directed by Michael Futcher, this production includes Nelle Lee, Ross Balbuziente, Tim Dashwood, Bryan Probets and Mr Skubij.

Toowoomba’s gorgeous Empire Theatre was the 27th venue in what has been a 5-month national tour for the company and, as you might expect of a well-run in production, the full house of young and old (over 1300) on Thursday night was treated to a polished, tight as a drum performance by the ensemble. I’ve made no secret elsewhere of my love of theatricality in the service of great story-telling, and this production exemplifies it with economy and clarity. Continue reading Review: Animal Farm – shake and stir theatre company: Empire Theatre (Toowoomba)

Review: Rumour Has It: 60 minutes inside Adele – The Little Red Company at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art

Image: Dylan Evans

Confession – until last year when I heard Naomi Price was appearing in a stand-up piece (Cheer the Fuck Up, Adele) for the Broadway Unplugged series at Stockholm Syndrome, I assumed Adele was a character she had created. Then (old fogey me) I found out there was a real Adele (Adele Laurie Blue Adkins) singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist – a hugely talented young Englishwoman. OK, intrigued now I listened to some of her music (thank you Spotify), checked out the considerable discography and the awards (my goodness and still so young) and then there was SKYFALL and the Best Song Oscar and … well, there you go.

So, I guess I have to thank Naomi Price for introducing me some time back to the fantastic (real-life) Adele. As I listened to Adele and her songs for the first time, what came back to me was the sound and spirit of some of the great rock, R&B and jazz divas of the past like Aretha and Janis and Reba – also first-name goddesses to me and many others.

And then, last night,  Ms Price (another talented, young Brit) brought her Adele to life in the cheeky, gutsy, quite stunningly good  Rumour Has It …  Devised by Naomi and collaborator Adam Brunes, with original musical arrangements by Jason McGregor, Michael Manikus and Ms Price herself, it’s now playing a sold out (or was close to last night), 3 night season at the Judith Wright Centre in Brisbane’s Brunswick Street. Continue reading Review: Rumour Has It: 60 minutes inside Adele – The Little Red Company at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art

Review: Out Damn Snot – Shake and Stir at La Boite Theatre Roundhouse

Images: Dylan Evans

Let me get one thing out of the way up front. I’m not at all keen on shows where adults play kids. The sight of 20-somethings leaping around pretending to be children can be embarrassingly awful, twee, and an insult to kids who just don’t behave the way they are often portrayed on stage. I wondered how kids felt about this and thought about sending along another reviewer to get a different perspective. However, Miss 8 was not available for the opening night of Shake and Stir’s Out Damn Snot directed by Ross Balbuziente. That left me to face my misgivings. Whilst I still think there’s a missed opportunity here to use children to play children in plays for children (some company care to have a go?) there is no doubt that this hilarious, very physical, beautiful-looking show written and created by Shake and Stir’s artistic directors Ross Balbuziente, Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij is great fun for kids and their adults.

I wasn’t sure what the kids in the audience would make of the two sisters Mackenzie (Amy Ingram), Kimmy (Nelle Lee) and little brother Heath (Nick Skubij). Given that they knew the actors were grown-ups, would they buy into the game that these were kids like them? Given their own capacity to role play on the fly, I’d say the young audience were perfectly accepting of these mad adults releasing their own inner kids and mucking about cartoon-style in a magic world. Buy this and it becomes a different experience. I really did enjoy the simplicity of the actors’ child-like (not childish) observations of game-playing and one-upmanship. My favourite is the one where we both try to tell a story simultaneously; you start and I have to join in and do it with you. Know the one? Magic! Ms Lee and Ingram release their inner-child with this lovely little slick schtick. Continue reading Review: Out Damn Snot – Shake and Stir at La Boite Theatre Roundhouse

Review: 1984 – Shake and Stir at QPAC Cremorne Theatre

I’ve come late to 1984; it’s well into the second week of a season that was sold out two weeks before opening.  Most of the reviews are in and they are unusually fulsome in their praise for a local production. I’m certainly not going to be different in that regard.

1984 is a cracker of a production – intelligent and theatrically clever as are all of Michael Futcher’s creations as stage director.

Orwell’s horror story of a society diseased by totalitarianism (of either the left or right variety) has been adapted for this production by two of Shake and Stir’s Artistic Directorate: Nelle Lee and Nick Skubij. Both Ms Lee and Mr Skubij are part of the first-rate onstage cast of five which also includes Ross Balbuziente, Hugh Parker and Bryan Probets, who is truly excellent as the hapless and doomed Winston Smith. His skull-like image and haunted eyes are projected large on the huge screen that backs and enlarges the stage action. It complements that of Big Brother and, for those who know the novel, is used in a device at play’s conclusion that perfectly captures the tragedy of Orwell’s novel. The production also features screen and audio appearances from Alexander Butt, Veronica Neave, Naomi Price, Matthew Welsh and Walt Webster. Continue reading Review: 1984 – Shake and Stir at QPAC Cremorne Theatre