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.
Music by Iain Grandage; Libretto by Alison Croggon; Based on Tim Winton's novel By Victorian Opera and Malthouse Theatre Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse, Sept 23 to Oct 4, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Tues Sept 23, 2014 Stars: ***1/2 Review also published in Herald Sun in print on Fri Sept 26, 2014. KH
operatic interpretation of The Riders is a totally different animal from Tim
Winton’s award-winning novel upon which it is based.
is a haunting quality to the music (Iain
Grandage), libretto (Alison
Croggon) and style of this production (Marion Potts) that captures the
grim tone of Winton’s novel, but the narrative is necessarily condensed to fit
into 100 minutes of stage time.
After renovating their
dream cottage in Ireland, Scully (Barry Ryan), awaits the arrival from Perth of
his beloved wife, Jennifer (Jessica Aszodi), and 7 year-old daughter, Billie (Isabela Calderon), but is shocked when a traumatised,
silent Billie arrives alone on a plane.
by his obsessive love and with Billie in tow, Scully trawls familiar European
locations, searching in vain for his wife who has vanished like smoke leaving
only “the wounds of absence”.
is an emotional story about a man’s consuming love and devotion that smothers
his wife and almost pushes him to “fall off the edge of the world” in his
grief, loss and isolation.
eclectic composition, conducted by Richard Mills, resonates with folk
music of Ireland, Greece and France as well as referencing Modernist, Romantic
and Serialist styles. The music shifts from dreamlike ripples to surging
oceanic waves of brass and strings or pounding percussion.
tells Scully’s story simply and evocatively, through poetic lyrics and rich
metaphor that heighten the mournfulness and confusion of Scully and Billie as
they struggle to comprehend Jennifer’s abandonment of them and to fill the void
caused by her absence.
Rod Quantock-Invitation to a Revolution At Lithuanian Club, From Sept 24, 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival You know I love Rod Quantock but I can't see or review this one. Go see him doing his revolt against Abbott. Vive La Revolution! KH
From Media Release
"Sir Rod Quantock cordially invites you to riotous
evening of incendiary humour* this Melbourne
Fringe. September marks the first anniversary of the
election of the Abbott Government and what
better way to celebrate than an evening with Sir Rod
(because he loathes the Liberals too).
"Each night, Sir Rod will recruit the audience, train
them as operatives, assign them to Sleeper
Cells and give them an activation code. What happens
when the activation code is triggered and
the Glorious Revolution begins? You’ll have to be in
the audience to find out.
"Rod Quantock recently held a press conference (in his
head) to mark his return to Melbourne
Fringe after a near 20-year absence. “The Liberals are
torturing refugees as a warning to others.
"That’s what the Mafia do,”said Sir Rod. “But Big Tony and his Gang of
political thugs (or Big Ears
and The Noddies as I call them) are mere tools of the
Dark Lords and Lady Reinhardt. If this were
France they’d be donning their berets and dusting off
"Quantock is one
of the reasons that Melbourne is the live comedy capital of Australia. As a
pioneer of stand up comedy, Quantock’s brilliance is
in his ability to evolve. He is relevant and
contemporary. Celebrating his 45th year in stand up in 2013, Quantock – who in
awarded the Sydney Myer Performing Arts Award -
remains sharp, insightful and fiercely political,
lobbing Molotov Cocktails of Mirth at mainstream
"His last solo show at the Melbourne Fringe was in 1996
– the year Australia elected John
Howard. In 2014 he’s back to take on Abbott and his
speedos. In a bold (and possibly
treasonous) move, Sir Rod has announced The
Revolution. “The Forces of Evil must be
conquered and, in the absence of an actual Australian
Opposition, I will start the revolution ! Viva
la Revolution! Viva, el Rod! ”. Don’t miss one of our
very own national treasures in his triumphant
Fringe return this September.
"*Rod bestowed a Knighthood on himself in a drunken
stupor late in the Third Quarter of the
Collingwood-Carlton match. DISCLAIMER: Should the
Abbott Government collapse before The
Fringe starts, Mr Quantock reserves the right to do a
show about living in a share house in the
By William Shakespeare, Bell Shakespeare Playhouse Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, Sept 19 to Aug 4, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:**** Review also published in Herald Sun in print on Mon 22 Sept). KH
Ray Chong Nee & Julie Forsyth; Photo by Lisa Tomasetti
If Julie Forsyth did an ad for soap powder I’d
fall over myself to see it, so it is theatrical bliss to see her play the mischievous
Puck in Peter Evans’ riotous production of The Dream.
In Evans’ abbreviated, 90 minute
version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Forsyth is accompanied on stage by a versatile cast including Richard Piper, another gifted
performer of both comic and dramatic roles.
an evocative slatted, wooden design (Teresa Negroponte) and swift, seamless
scene changes, the stage is transformed and we are transported from the court
of the Duke (Ray Chong Nee) to the forbidding, enchanted forest inhabited by
Fairy King Oberon (Chong Nee) and his Queen Titania (Janine Watson).
transposes Shakespeare’s first scenes, opening with the inimitable comedy of the
amateur actors/tradesmen (known as the Mechanicals) planning to perform their unwittingly
comical version of the tragic-romantic tale of lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe.
this dynamic, inventive, deftly directed production, the actors play multiple
roles, transforming themselves physically and vocally as they shift swiftly
Forsyth gives an exquisitely joyful performance, playing Puck with impish glee,
creating a complex character with her expressively malleable, putty face, inspired
comic choices, impeccable timing and effortless shifts between comic and
By Sue Giles and Ian Pidd At La Mama Theatre, Sept
18 to 28, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ***
Review also published in Herald Sun in print on Wed Sept 24, 2014. KH
Ian Pidd & Sue Giles
you’re a teacher who dreams of being a poet, a composer or a painter, Dead Set
will ring some bells for you.
partners, Sue Giles and Ian Pidd, now reputable directors, last performed this gentle,
quirky show 20 years ago when, as comedy duo Shaken and Suspicious, they toured
with their young children in tow.
Set depicts the burgeoning artistic and romantic relationship between Lionel
Tonks (Pidd), a shy, Maths teacher who secretly writes music, and aspiring
lyricist, Verity Charity (Giles), who is actually the alter-ego of surly English
teacher, Janice Black, whose double life is built on fantasies and lies.
and Lionel write The Great Australian Musical called Humping My Swag, with its
lead characters Mary, a widow with two children, and the Stranger she loves who
faces hanging for a crime he did not commit.
show is warm, sweet and funny but also bumpy and charmingly shambolic, with the
highlights being the goofy songs with witty lyrics, Giles and Pidd’s wry humour
and the ever-so-slightly demented but recognisable characters that they inhabit
Children's show A Critical Stages & Dead Puppet Society Production Thurs 25 – Fri 26 Sept Time: Thurs 25 – 7pm, Fri 26 – Matinee at 11am & 7pm Location: Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre, 387 Bell St, Preston VIC I am not seeing this show but thought families might be interested. KH
MKA, Speakeasy Northcote Town Hall Melbourne Fringe Festival Sept 18 to 28, 2014 Performed by Mark Wilson & Olivia Monticello I am not seeing this show. KH
MKA Richard II (Mark Wilson)_Photo by Sarah Walker
From the Media Release
"Wilson portrays a God-king who realises he is human and comes out with a treasonous consanguinity of celebrity, corruption and religious self-love.
"One of Shakespeare’s least performed texts, Richard II tells the story of King Richard the Second, who rules England with absolute power and is widely criticised for wasting England’s money on pointless wars and implementing unfair taxes. However, when King Richard banishes his cousin Henry Bolingbroke (the soon-to-be King Henry IV) from the kingdom, his unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that will lead to his overthrow.
"A two-hander, with Olivia Monticciolo (Bell Shakespeare’s Phèdre) playing Bolingbroke, Wilson’s adaptation explores notions of celebrity, corruption and power and promises to be a thrilling, intelligent and scathing allegory for leadership in the 21st century and Australia’s own political climate." Media Release
Music by Tom Kitt; lyrics
by Amanda Green; book by David Lyndsay-Abaire; Based on the best-selling novel
by Nick Hornby; presented by Pursued By Bear At Chapel
off Chapel, from Sept 11 to Sept 21, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **
Review also published in Herald Sun online on Fri Sept 12 and later in print. KH
Scott Mackenzie, Russll Leonard, Liam
the popular book and movie about a bloke who runs a record store stuffed with
obscure vinyl discs, a third life as a musical seems an obvious step for High
Fidelity –The Musical emphasises the cynicism of Nick Hornby’s original, 1995
novel rather than the perkily charming nostalgia of the John Cusack movie from
David Ward’s production lacks finesse with its messy direction, uneven acting
and vocals, awkward design and confined stage space that pushes the actors to
the very front of the stage, restricting the sight lines to zero in some
greatest asset is the tight, 10-piece band under musical director, Frankie
Ross, but Ward unwisely secretes the band behind a curtain in the back corner
of the cluttered stage.
30-something Rob Gordon (Russell Leonard) is a musical elitist so blinkered and
obsessed with classic and obscure music that
he runs a Brooklyn record shop, Championship Vinyl, that has no paying customers.
it has plenty of weirdoes such as his two co-workers, painfully shy Dick (Liam
O’Byrne) and loudmouth Barry (Scott Mackenzie), and other denizens of the store
including TMPMITW, “The most pathetic man in the world” (Tom Russell).
Written by Trudy
Hellier At fortyfivedownstairs, Sept 4
to 14, 2014 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **** Review also published online in Herald Sun on Fri Sept 5, 2014 and in print on Mon Sept 8. KH
Caroline Lee; pic by Andy Turner
waking up one day to discover that your partner has died in mysterious
circumstances – and that he was living a secret and disturbing double life.
is the distressing and poignant experience of the woman in Waking Up Dead, written
by Trudy Hellier and developed with imagination and vision by collaborators,
Susie Dee (director), Caroline Lee (actor) and Ian Moorhead (sound designer).
is quietly compelling as this reserved, conservative woman, playing her with a
haunted and bewildered quality that epitomises her grief and masks her repressed
but seething rage.
is confined to a cell-like space that is framed by a white paper wall and floor
that create an atmosphere of entrapment, but also a sense of privacy as the
woman struggles to make sense of her life and her grief.
white environment also provides her with blank surfaces upon which to sketch
her memories of her past life with the man she no longer recognises as her
starts her story in 1980 then moves forward chronologically by increments to
2007, scribbling dates, notes and quotes, and sketching furniture that
identifies locations and conjures a black and white landscape of her murky
Roger Crane Produced by Triumph Entertainment Ltd (Paul Elliott & Duncan
C.Weldon), The Theatre Royal Haymarket and Karl Sydow; Tinderbox
Productions (Liza McLean) At Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, Sept 3 to 21, 2014 (then Sydney from Sept 24) Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **** Review also published in Herald Sun online today, Thurs Sept 4, 2014. Review will be in print on Sunday, Sept 7, 2014 in Sunday Herald Sun. KH
All photos on this blog by Joe Calleri.
David Suchet as Cardinal Giovanni Benelli; photo by Joe Calleri.
It makes one’s spirit soar to witness the consummate
performance of David Suchet and the distinguished cast of actors in Jonathan
Church’s sleek production of The Last Confession.
The play extrapolates on events in The Vatican
before and after the election and mysteriously sudden death of Pope John Paul I
in 1978, 33 days after he was elected Pope and before he could implement his radical,
liberal reforms of the Catholic Church.
Suchet plays Cardinal
Giovanni Benelli, a serious, businesslike, Catholic moderate who struggles with
doubts about his faith and challenges the intransigent
conservatism of the cardinals who dominate the Curia, the Vatican bureaucracy
that advises the Pope.
Suchet enlivens the role with the full force
of his resonant, dark-velvet voice and piercing gaze that we recognise from
screen performances such as the meticulous detective, Hercule Poirot, and the
villainous terrorist in Executive Decision.
Providing a narrative framework for Roger
Crane’s play is Benelli’s fictional
confession to The Confessor who is played with a slightly sinister, critical
edge by Philip Craig.
acts as a narration that tracks the trajectory of events from the last year of
Pope Paul VI (Donald Douglas), to the election of Albino Luciani (Richard
O’Callaghan) as Pope John Paul I, and the associated power struggles, reform
agendas and financial corruption of the Vatican Bank.