Review: Other Desert Cities – Queensland Theatre Company at QPAC Playhouse

Image: Rebecca Davis, Robert Coleby, Janet Andrewartha

As much as I love the vivid experimentation – the sheer theatricalism – of some of the recent plays I’ve seen on Brisbane stages, I must confess to being a sucker for an unadorned production of a good piece of American realism. QTC’s latest offering is Jon Robin Baitz‘s Other Desert Cities, a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony award-winner after its transfer from an off-Broadway start in 2011.

Mr Baitz’s play is finely wrought; the threads he spins in act one are woven tightly in act two and deliver some surprises of their own – a nice touch in a tale about family secrets and lies – a recurring motif in modern American drama. The coda at the play’s end is a little overly sentimental for my taste but probably essential given the narrative set up that’s gone before. The author creates his plot with great characters, by the way. The five roles are juicy, naturalistic and beg for bravura turns coupled with the finesse of ensemble playing.

Other Desert Cities is classically old-fashioned in so many ways; it even sticks to the unities for heaven’s sake!  In this co-production with Black Swan State Theatre Company and QTC, director Kate Cherry casts well and delivers a finely-observed, well-orchestrated, conservative production true to the play’s aesthetic values. Continue reading Review: Other Desert Cities – Queensland Theatre Company at QPAC Playhouse

Review: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Queensland Theatre Company at QPAC Playhouse

So evocative are Ben Collins’ sound and David Murray‘s lighting designs for Kate Cherry‘s excellent production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  that you can almost hear the skeeters hummin’ on the honeysuckle vine, feel the cooling breeze off the Delta, and smell the coming storm’s electricity in the oppressive air. The crackle of electricity within the Pollitt family home and the  heady odour of lies and falsehood  that lie at the thematic heart of this masterpiece of modern drama – the ‘smell of mendacity’ – are also wonderfully captured in the action played out with gusto in QTC’s co-production with Perth’s Black Swan Theatre Company.

Other reviewers of this production have referred to or compared it with the heavily adapted 1958 film version which starred Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Burl Ives. The movie seems to have left an almost-indelible mark on the work despite the screenplay’s being openly scorned by Williams. References to the repressed homosexuality of the former footballer Brick were largely omitted from the screenplay which also included a heavily reworked third act reconciliation between father and son. The play was first directed for the Broadway stage by Elia Kazan in 1955, and went on to take out the Pulitzer Prize for drama in that year. However, and at Kazan’s urging, Williams substantially revised the work for a revival in 1974, and this is the version which has usually been produced since that time. This production may nod towards the film in its look but, make no mistake, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a great play of classic proportions and classic themes; it almost needs the stage’s size and accommodation for its playing out. Continue reading Review: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Queensland Theatre Company at QPAC Playhouse

This Week in Queensland Theatre: 12-18 July

For more details check company websites

Advanced Screening by Markwell Presents at Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, Wednesday.
I Love You Bro’ by  Adam J Cass Dir David Berthold for La Boite Theatre at the Roundhouse, Friday.  PS They are calling for tweet reviews of the show. You’ll need to follow them @LaBoiteTheatre first!

Tender by Nikki Bloom Dir Andrea Moor for !Metro Arts Independents 2010 at !Metro Arts
The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl Dir Kate Cherry Queensland Theatre Company, Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

Circa’s Term 3 Circus Training for adults and children commences on Monday 12.  Details on their Facebook page

Leon Cain’s daily videocasts of his rehearsals for the upcoming I Love You Bro’ are worth a look. Check them out on La Boite’s You Tube channel