Review: Waiting for Godot – Queensland Theatre Company

Originally published 30 April, 2010

My theatre companion and I are currently trying to get through burgers the size of our heads before we attend this evening’s performance of Waiting for Godot. It’s been a long week, and we’ve spent the last half an hour whinging at each other about work. There’s a pause in the conversation and a thought rises to the surface: ‘I’m not sure if I really want to sit through Beckett tonight,’ I proclaim with a sigh.

This is nothing against the Queensland Theatre Company production team. Joe Mitchell, the director, has already proven he’s a deft hand with Beckett in the past. The line-up of the cast is tremendous, and I’ve heard nothing but good things. But I’m slightly hesitant because I’ve fallen victim to the most common misconception held around Beckett: that I’ll leave the theatre wanting to kill myself. A synopsis of Waiting for Godot reads like a guaranteed boring night out. Most beautifully described as the play where ‘nothing happens, twice’, the play concerns itself with two men waiting for the mysterious Godot to show up. And that’s it. Continue reading Review: Waiting for Godot – Queensland Theatre Company

Soul food: a fourth letter from a voluntary exile

Hello Greenroomers

Last night I watched Ratatouille, the excellent Pixar film featuring a rat (who is an excellent chef) and his adventures in a Paris restaurant. It also features Anton Ego, a critic of devastating reputation. Although Ego is used by the writers to satirize the role and cult of critics (as if his name wasn’t a clue) he actually has two moments that redeem him and critics generally.

When he sits down to write his review of the restaurant, that could destroy or make a career, he pauses for thought, then pens a review of unmitigated praise, that starts with these words:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.

This is salve to anyone who has ever felt the brunt of the critics’ scorn (and felt the nagging fear they may be onto something). But for me, an equally magical moment occurs some minutes before this scene, when he is served the titular dish. One mouthful and his mind shoots back to his childhood and memories of his mother cooking him dinner in a beautiful bucolic and fleeting scene. We discover Ego’s drive – he wants food that feeds his soul. He is bitter because he finds it so rarely.

I think all the great critics – of food, of theatre, of art, of literature, hell, even sport – are trying to find their equivalent of that mouthful of food that goes straight to their soul. And I believe audience members too want that, though perhaps they are not so mindful. But when they receive it, they know. I believe that because that is my experience when I go to the theatre, a film, pick up a book, or watch TV. Yes, much of that may be purely entertainment, fluff or time-filler, and excellent as examples of such. But I also need those shots to my soul. They may be irregular, but they must keep coming. Continue reading Soul food: a fourth letter from a voluntary exile

Review: King Lear – Bell Shakespeare, Queensland Theatre Company & QPAC at QPAC

As I walk into the Playhouse Theatre for King Lear’s Brisbane opening night, I must admit I’m a little cautious.  A successful play that runs over three hours is an enigma.  If any play can do it, however, it’s King Lear, one of my favourite Shakespeare plays.  Perhaps I still had Queensland Theatre Company’s other recent production of Waiting for Godot in my mind, but I’m reminded that King Lear is the closest to existentialism that Shakespeare gets.  It’s a play where ‘nothing’ is a central theme, and where the protagonist deals with his own mortality with a tragic descent into madness.  The play is violent, heart-wrenching and devastating.  At least it’s supposed to be.  I’m afraid to say this latest production with John Bell in the lead doesn’t quite hit the mark. Continue reading Review: King Lear – Bell Shakespeare, Queensland Theatre Company & QPAC at QPAC

This week in Queensland Theatre: 3-9 May 2010

Zen Zen Zo supporting Amanda Palmer
Image by chrisdonia via Flickr

Check Company websites for show times and further details

Opening:
The Timely Death of Victor Blott at !Metro Arts
King Lear: Bell Shakespeare for Queensland Theatre Company at Playhouse, QPAC
Dante’s Inferno: Zen Zen Zo at the Old Museum Building

Continuing:
Let the Sunshine: Queensland Theatre Company at Cremorne, QPAC
Waiting for Godot: Queensland Theatre Company at Bille Brown Studio
Stockholm: STC for La Boite Theatre at the Roundhouse

Greenroom Reviews:

Waiting for Godot (Dave Burton)
Stockholm
(Kate Foy)

This week in Queensland theatre: April 26-May 2

Empire Theatre
Image by Dramagirl via Flickr

For further details on individual performances dates and showtimes check company websites

Opening:

  • Disney’s High School Musical, dir Lewis Jones Empire Theatre, Toowoomba (Wednesday)
  • Stockholm by Bryony Lavery, Dir and Choreographed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, Sydney Theatre Company for La Boite Theatre at Roundhouse Theatre (Thursday)

Continuing:

  • Let the Sunshine by David Williamson Dir Michael Gow, Queensland Theatre Company at Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
  • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett Dir Joseph Mitchell, Queensland Theatre Company at Bille Brown Studio
  • Spamalot Dir Ellen Casey, Blue Fish Theatrical, Schonell Theatre UQ

Reviews:

High School Musical, Dir Lewis Jones: Empire Theatre, Toowoomba (Kate Foy)

This Week in Queensland Theatre: April 19-25

The famous Droeshout portrait of William Shake...
Image via Wikipedia

For showtimes see company websites

Opening:

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett Dir Joseph Mitchell – Queensland Theatre Company Education Program at Bille Brown Studio. (Thursday)

Divas-one night only: Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Concert Hall, QPAC (Saturday)

Continuing:

Single Admissions by Tammy Weller Dir Daniel Evans at Sue Benner Theatre, !MetroArts

Blackbird by David Harrower Dir Mark Conaghan for La Boite Indie at Roundhouse Theatre

Let the Sunshine by David Williamson Dir Michael Gow at Cremorne Theatre, QPAC

Other:

Matilda Awards: JWCoCA Fortitude Valley. Monday 6pm

Shakespeare’s Birthday on Friday.  You knew that!  Greenroom is doing a special post for the birthday Bard … watch out for it.

Greenroom Reviews:

Blackbird: 23rd Productions