Machina – La Boite Indie and Mad Cat Creative Connections at The Loft

The Parade Ground yard outside the Roundhouse Theatre was buzzing last night with indie patrons there to see not one, not two, but three shows on the La Boite indie calendar: 4000 Miles, Mullah Nasrudin, and Machina, an eagerly-awaited, new work from Richard Jordan, directed by Catarina Hebbard, and which is now playing in the Loft – a space I hadn’t visited before.

The lead up to production – itself subsidised by a ‘long-tail’, online crowd sourced campaign – added clever marketing videos and a website (designed by Nathan Sibthorpe) which teased us with hints of dastardly doings by the evil, faceless ‘Machina,’ and of individuals who have decided to ‘go inside’ the machine and live as disembodied selves in perpetuity. The regularly posted bulletins hinted at evil corporate scheming and fear of their machinations (pun or otherwise intended) and, of course, society’s obsession with online connectivity.  Add the age-old fascination with the idea if not the reality of immortality for a price (Faustus) – and you get a rich and powerful mix that intrigued. Continue reading “Machina – La Boite Indie and Mad Cat Creative Connections at The Loft”

4000 Miles by Amy Herzog – La Boite Indie and Mophead & Catnip Productions at the Roundhouse Theatre

Image: Gez Xavier Mansfield

La Boite’s Indie season is here again. It kicked off what I like to think is the ‘official theatre season’ in Brisbane – as May rolls around into what passes for winter here – on a warm night last week.  The first of the 2014 indies is a lovely production directed by Anthony Skuse of Amy Herzog‘s 4000 MILES, a multiple-award winner fairly fresh from off-Broadway, and from Mophead and Catnip who are based in Sydney. Welcome to town!

Most, if not all, indie productions that are hosted by La Boite each year are first try-outs of local works with all the thrills and spills they bring with them. This year, the season begins with a show from out of town, and one that has been well run-in at ATYP’s 2013 Under the Wharf independent season. I wonder does this signal a change of future direction for the La Boite Indie program? Continue reading “4000 Miles by Amy Herzog – La Boite Indie and Mophead & Catnip Productions at the Roundhouse Theatre”

Review: The Phantom of the Opera – Empire Theatre (Toowoomba)

Image: Empire Theatre

A disclaimer up front – I’m currently serving on the Foundation of the Empire Theatre and am a former Board member. If, then, you think the following should be taken with a grain of salt, so be it!

Theatre, oh theatre, how I love you in all your moods and guises. I’ve been in love with you for many years – too many to recall – and I’ve never lost the excitement and the anticipation of the magic that is made present from talent, sweat and tears. A group of strangers come together to experience something only fully realised in the dynamic of a single moment of pure community.

The theatre is also powerfully transformative of individuals and communities small and large. Playwright Arthur Miller once noted that the theatre is the place where strangers come together in a civilising act as important as road and bridge building. Maybe it’s because of the power theatre holds that, throughout history, it’s been one of the first agencies to be closed down by repressive regimes. Individuals and communities can be changed – are changed – when they come together to be refreshed and renewed, to be inspired, to laugh, to weep, and to think out loud in front of themselves – that last one from Martin Esslin, another great of the theatre. This communing was something I experienced afresh last Thursday night at the opening of the Empire Theatre’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe’s classic of the modern musical theatre, The Phantom of the Opera. Continue reading “Review: The Phantom of the Opera – Empire Theatre (Toowoomba)”

Review: Cock – La Boite Theatre Company and MTC at the Roundhouse

Images; Sean Dowling

The American novelist Stephen King once described the best stories as those that focus on either almost everyone in an entire community or those that focus on just a few critical characters. Cock is definitely in the latter category. Directed by Leticia Cáceres, this touring production of Mike Bartlett‘s sharp and witty play takes the most fundamental concepts of a love triangle and turns them on their heads. I absolutely loved the production. With innovative direction, stellar acting and inspired writing, Cock is a fine example of modern theatrical story-telling. Continue reading “Review: Cock – La Boite Theatre Company and MTC at the Roundhouse”

Review: Guys and Dolls – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Concert Hall QPAC

Images: Nick Morrissey

Guys and Dolls – what an absolute cracker of a show. I’ve seen it live several times, watched the (1955) movie with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando more times than is normal, and even played Miss Adelaide in my hometown’s local production. Needless to say I was thrilled to be headed to QPAC’s Concert Hall last Friday night for the opening of this play the first for Harvest Rain Theatre Company’s 2014 Season and also first full season as a professional musical theatre company.

The show is set in New York in the 1940s and most of the action takes place on and around Broadway (with a flying visit to Havana). The central plot of Guys and Dolls is a romance; it follows the story of gambler, lady’s man and ‘sinner’ Skye Masterson who, as a result of a misplaced bet, falls in love with Sarah Brown an earnest, uptight, Salvation Army missionary. The subplot includes another romance in a different key – that between Miss Adelaide a Broadway showgirl and another gambler, the hapless Nathan Detroit.

The show opened at the 46th street theatre in New York in 1950 and has enjoyed immense success ever since. The book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows is hilariously timeless, and the music/lyrics by Frank Loesser are an absolute delight. Revered classics such as Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat performed so joyfully in this production by Daryl Somers playing Nicely Nicely Johnson, and Luck Be a Lady are, of course, remarkable, but it is the lesser know numbers such as Sue Me, More I Cannot Wish You and Marry the Man Today that really show Loesser’s genius as a lyricist and composer. It’s a classic of the modern American musical theatre and is a great choice for Harvest Rain. Continue reading “Review: Guys and Dolls – Harvest Rain Theatre Company at Concert Hall QPAC”