Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Jesse Cox. Creative Nonfiction Theatre Works, until May 11, 2014 Reviewer:
Kate Herbert Stars:**** Review also published in Herald Sun onlin on Thurs May 1, 2014 and later in print. KH
Jesse Cox, pic Sarah Walker
Wael Zuaiter: Unknown, Jesse Cox tells a poignant love story about his great-aunt
while simultaneously, and almost by stealth, informing the audience about the
alone at a desk on stage, Cox speaks gently, intimately but directly as he weaves
a complex narrative about his great-aunt, Janet Venn-Brown’s relationship with
her fiance, Wael Zuaiter, a Palestinian intellectual and translator who was
murdered in Rome in October 1972.
episodes of the burgeoning love story between Wael and Janet, Cox threads the mythical,
romantic tale of Sheherezade and The 1001 Nights.
compelling beauty of Cox’s narrative is elevated by remarkable projections that
shift from Aldous Massie’s vividly colourful paintings of Sheherezade to Matt
Huynh’s grim, painterly, black-and-white images that depict Wael’s life.
Music, lyrics & book by Richard O’Brien Produced by Ambassador Theatre
Group and Gordon Frost Organisation Comedy Theatre from April 26
to July 13, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:**** A version of this review was also be in print in Herald Sun on Sunday 27 April and online on Sat April 26 at 10pm. KH
Christie Whelan Browne, Tim Maddren, Craig McLachlan (photo Jeff Busby)
McLachlan is “just a sweet transvestite” and he’s
strutting his demented stuff on stage at the Comedy
Theatre to the wicked delight of The Rocky Horror Show opening night crowd.
The audience glitterati included movie megastar, Pierce Brosnan, who is
in town with his new film, The Moon and The Sun.
audacious McLachlan, garbed in corset, fishnets and stilettos, reprises the
role of Dr. Frank N Furter, the twisted “tranny” whose gothic mansion and
perverted pastimes created a sensation in London in 1973 then in Australia in
is deliciously, flamboyantly camp as Frank,playing an
unforgettable, swaggering, muscular, drag queen with oddly seductive sexual
teases the audience with his outrageous, mock depravity, risqué sexual innuendo
and comic ad libbing as he leads a daring cast of Frank’s dissolute pals
through a series of decadent parties and wanton excesses.
he created the show in the 1970s, Richard O’Brien, the sole writer of the
music, lyrics and book, tossed a trashy drag show into a particle collider with
classic 1950s, B Grade sci-fi and horror movies to produce this idiosyncratic
and trangressive rock musical.
Christie Whelan Browne embodies the sweetly innocent Janet then
fearlessly takes her character on a rollercoaster ride into debauchery, while Tim Maddren as Janet’s
clean-cut, naive fiancé, Brad, tumbles headlong under the corrupting influence
of Frank N Furter.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Melbourne Town Hall, April 16 only Stars: ***1/2 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Full review also in Herald Sun online, Thurs April 17, 2014. KH
A mixed bag of gags and
giggles from 20 gals
Geraldine Quinn, host of Upfront
Get your laughing gear on – ‘cos Upfront
showcases some top female, comic talent from the 2014 Comedy Festival.
At the top of the show and again after
interval, host Geraldine Quinn, belts out a hot, rock tune with her band,
Spandex Ballet, then provides swift introductions to each act.
Although the quality is uneven amongst the
20 acts and the second half runs way to long for comfort, there are many
Celia Pacquola rants about hoarders in a
tight, funny five minutes, Felicity Ward takes a comedy hatchet to Aussie
bigotry, and Rebecca Di Unamuno wows the audience with her totally improvised
Smart, cool Sara Pascoe charms with her bent
logic and material about women’s bodies, then the first half closes with
Adrienne Truscott’s off-the-wall, burlesque routine that makes cake-baking look
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Music by Robert Tripolino, Book & Lyrics by Hugo
Chiarella Red Heifer Productions Theatre Works, until 20 April 2014
Star rating: **1/2
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Friday April 11, 2014. KH
Jesus is back! And this time he’s wearing thongs!
In DreamSong, a corrupt pastor (Ben Prendergast) fabricates the second
coming of the Messiah to save his church from insolvency.
It sounds like a great, satirical idea, but the potential is not yet
realised in this patchy, new Australian musical created by Robert Tripolino and
Despite being subjected to a series of creative developments,
productions and rewrites, the problems with the narrative, music, lyrics and
dialogue remain unresolved and DreamSong is still not a finished,
The highlight of the performance is Brent Hill as The Real Jesus, whose
skillful comic timing and delivery saves a number of scenes.
There is only one compelling song, Just Have Faith, that hints at the musical
possibilities of this team, with its memorable tune and simple lyrics sung by
Connor Crawford’s clear, tuneful musical theatre voice.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Melbourne Town Hall until April 20, 2014 Star
Full review also online in Herald Sun. KH
Nietzschian Nihilism wrapped in a charmingly kooky package
comic Sara Pascoe is relaxed, charming and unassuming while she totally upends
our belief in reality with her hilariously twisted philosophy.
is casually dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that declares, “There are no facts,
only interpretations,” a quote from Nihilist philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche,
that provides the bizarre basis of all that follows.
doesn’t do self-deprecating comedy but, instead, uses her weird, convoluted
logic to sneak up on us with unexpected twists and tag lines.
her easygoing, laconic and kooky style, Pascoe’s material is thought provoking as
she tells serious stories about personal or social issues – feminism, burkas,
elder-abuse, feeling unloved, phobias, pornography – then flips them with an
fears are manifold and wide-ranging and she gets plenty of comic mileage from
her spider phobia and her paranoia that she is being watched.
Melbourne season Produced by EMS Entertainment & Mattel Live Entertainment Palais Theatre April 5,
6, 7, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 5 Stars:***
review also in Herald Sun online on April 8. KH
All photos by Joe Calleri taken at Media Call on April 4, 2014. KH
Barbie™ Live! The Musical has a captive
audience of tiny girls wearing pink, fluffy tutus and wielding twinkly, twirly
toys while waiting excitedly for Barbie to appear.
story by Diane Rodriguez with songs by
Robbie Roth, Barbie (Chelsea Bernier), now a movie star, is rehearsing a
Hollywood musical with a cast that includes her under-confident, best friend,
Teresa (Kristina Miller).
Live! is as sweetly pink as fairy floss and littered with life lessons based on
stories from Barbie’s own movies that
she retells to encourage Teresa to be brave, strong and happy to be herself.
Teresa is tormented not only by her lack of
confidence, but also by nasty, competitive Raquelle (Courtney Cheatham) and her
wacky sidekick, the make-up gal, Peg Pincushion (Rebecca Warm).
The cheery lyrics and perky, pop tunes (Rise
Above It All, Get Your Sparkle On, Be A Friend) are accompanied by energetic,
albeit unoriginal choreography (Kobi Rozenfeld), while the movie rehearsals
resemble pop videos that are familiar to most children.
The second half avoids the crowded stage and
busy choreography of the first, hitting the right note for the audience of
mostly 3 to 7 year-old girls by focussing on intimate scenes between Barbie and
Teresa playing their characters, Princess Victoria and Keira the pop star.
Kiss My Date The Evatt Room, Trades Hall, until April 20, 2014
Star rating:*** Reviewer: Kate Herbert Full review also online in Herald Sun, Friday April 4, 2014. KH
Proof that online dating
is a minefield of maniacs
If you are not
convinced that online dating is simply a minefield of maniacs, ask Rebecca de
Her entire show
is build around her disheartening, real experiences with men she encountered in
an online dating site, some of whom she met in person with varied, but always
cheekily called Kiss My Date, straddles the fence between stand-up comedy and
theatrical monologue with mixed success.
The early vignettes
are less effective than later scenes when we hear hilarious examples of hapless
men’s messages to Rebecca that range from idiotic, insipid and sad to just
The high point
was her improvised scene in the style of Shakespeare; she asked a young couple
in questions about their relationship and then improvised their story in an
hilarious parody of Elizabethan language.
She talks about
her teenage crushes and a recent dispiriting affair with a plumber, then enacts
an entire drunken pick-up in a bar in some clever mime.
The 22 year-old,
“Gen Porn” guy has all the elements of a great character for Rebecca to play,
but she portrays him only by miming Lonely Is A Man Without Love, a song from
absolutely the wrong generation.
This show needs
a clearer through-line and more consistent style and Rebecca’s performance is
much more compelling when she is less theatrical and interacts intimately with
experiences with men may be demoralising, but she has talent.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Old Met Shop, Melbourne Town Hall, until April 20,
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Full review also in Herald Sun online. KH
Sassy Sarah’s tale of
Sassy redhead, Sarah Kendall, forces us to relive our school days through
her teen memoir about adolescent angst and winning and losing friends.
Looking like a teen in her jeans and boyish checked shirt, she
energetically describes her experiences as the incompetent player in the girls’
touch football team in her Newcastle school in 1992.
Kendall comically and vividly portrays herself as a 15 year-old loser
extraordinaire: absurdly tall, ginger afro, braces on her teeth, nervous sweats
and unfashionable, untannable skin.
These days, Kendall is youthful, casual, engaging and, with her English
rose skin and golden hair, she would be perfectly cast wearing a Victorian gown
in a British period piece.
She devoted the entire hour to the evolving tale of her friendship with
Abbie, the prettiest girl at school, and with Derek, the sweet, Canadian
exchange student who has no facility for history because he can’t remember
Regent Room, Melbourne Town Hall until April 20, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also online at Herald Sun.KH
Workman is both a whimsical comedian and an extraordinary storyteller whose metaphysical
musings and metaphorical storytelling cannot be pigeonholed.
weaves smart and very funny gags amidst a fantastical tale of a painfully thin,
morphine-addled news correspondent who travels to a war zone to report on a
bomb that will start people dreaming again.
stands comfortably alone on stage with only imaginary props, design and music
to accompany him; even the Scotch he sips is mimed and his invisible stool gets
its own laughs.
show defies genre and, he says, “Is a complex metaphor for the genesis and
extinction of self-awareness.”
makes the audience roar laughing at ordinary things viewed through a distorted
lens, then draws us in to his bizarre story with his compelling presence,
idiosyncratic style, vivid characterisation and atmospheric conjuring of
Melbourne International Comedy Festival The Cube - ACMI, Melbourne
Town Hall until April 20, 2014 Star rating: ***
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also online at Herald Sun soon. KH
In her new show, The Iceberg, Felicity Ward is all worked up about what
people hide below the surface.
After a year in London, Ward returns with her rapid-fire delivery, some
smart, political material mixed with goofy, every-day observations – and a
weird pair of flared, orange shorts.
“How we present ourselves is how we are perceived”, she says, and she proceeds
to reveal her own secret foibles and how we can shift people’s opinions of us.
Ward has some funny commentary on cricket, including the Aussie fans’
miserable quota of sporting songs compared to the UK Barmy Army that composes
such gems as, “You all come from a convict colony”, sung to Yellow Submarine.
She recommends we write new sporting anthems to slap it back at the
Poms, remembers fondly the streakers of the 1980s, and celebrates the
creativity of the Aussie cricket fans with their watermelon hats.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Supper Room, Melbourne Town Hall, until
April 20, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also online at Herald Sun. KH
In her new show, The Exhibitionist, Hannah Gadsby indulges her love of
“selfies” and links it with her other love – Renaissance portraiture.
Accompanied only by a remote control, Gadbsy clicks through dozens of
photos of herself, taken by Gadsby, her friends or strangers in a show that would
be the ultimate display of self-absorption if not for her constant
The selfie, she quips, is the epitome of vanity and loneliness, and
Gadsby’s collection of other people’s images of themselves demonstrates this
People take selfies in wildly inappropriate locations, such as the
blokes who showed off his muscles with a grubby urinal in the background or the
woman who forgot to tidy her bedroom first.
Gadsby’s patter is fast, rambling and amusing, albeit not always
laugh-out-loud funny, and she has now left behind the deadpan style of her