Thursday, 29 January 2015

LIttle Bird, 29 Jan, 2015 ***

By Nicki Bloom, Music by Cameron Goodall & Quentin Grant
by State Theatre Company SA
Playhouse, Arts Centre, Melbourne 
Jan 29 to Feb 4, 2015 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
 Review also published in Herald Sun online today, Fri 30 Jan 2015, and in print on Sun 1 Feb, 2015. KH

Paul Capsis in Little Bird

Paul Capsis is well known for blurring gender boundaries in his cabaret performances and continues to do so in Nicki Bloom’s one-man play, Little Bird.

Bloom’s grim fairytale explores the rites of passage of a boy maturing into a man and searching for his identity in a world that offers him no clear role models or life pathways.

A frail, birdlike child called Wren is mysteriously born to a childless couple, but his happy, family life eventually disintegrates when his mother leaves and his father falls into despair.

Wren departs on a long journey that sees this confused, young man first stumble into a marriage with a lonely girl in the forest, then escape to the city and into an equally unsatisfying relationship with Rocky, a brawny, dress-wearing woodcutter.

Alone on stage, Capsis self-narrates the entire story and plays all characters using his full, spoken, vocal range that shifts from a grumbling, dark bass – a tone that we rarely hear in his singing – to high-pitched, childlike tones. 

Loving Repeating, 28 Jan 2015 ****

A musical of Gertrude Stein
Music by Stephen Flaherty; lyrics by Gertrude Stein; adapted by Frank Galati, presented by Vic Theatre Company 
Chapel off Chapel, until Feb 8, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: **** 
Review also published in Herald Sun online Fri 30 Jan, 2015 and in print later. KH.
Deidre Rubenstein and cast in Loving Repeating

Look out! There’s a new musical theatre gang in town and they’re debut show is pretty damn good.

Jason Langley’s production of Loving Repeating, a musical adapted by Frank Galati from the writings of famous, US expatriate poet, Gertrude Stein (Deidre Rubenstein), is assured, sleek, entertaining and just a little bit challenging.

The eclectic, non-narrative style of the show corresponds to Stein’s own abstract, poetic writings while the title refers to her continuing love of the repetition of words, phrases and ideas in her work.

 “A rose is a rose is a rose,” probably her most famous line, is clearly the inspiration for the sensual, red rose motif in the set design (Nathan Weyers).

Although not linear in structure, the show provides a stylised chronology of Stein’s life, highlighting her Psychology studies at college, her burgeoning passion for women, her lifelong relationship with Alice B. Toklas (Gillian Cosgriff, Nicole Melloy) and her idiosyncratic writing style.

Rubenstein gleefully inhabits the formidable but engaging character of Stein and, perched in a pulpit-like box, provides narration based on Stein’s musings on diverse topics including language, love and relationships.

Friday, 2 January 2015

The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Jan 2, 2015 ****1/2

Book, Music & Lyrics by David Wood; adapted from Judith Kerr's book
Produced by KW &NB Ltd Company 
Arts Centre Melbourne, Jan 2 to 18, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also in Herald Sun online on Jan 5 then later in print. Sorry for delay in uploading here. I've been on hols at the beach! KH

What would you do if a gigantic Tiger appeared at your front door demanding tea?

If you’re a 4 or 5 year old, evidently you’d squeal excitedly, point, shout, sing, invite him in and then feed the hungry Tiger all of your yummy afternoon tea.

That menu includes bikkies, buns, sandwiches, an enormous cake and everything drinkable in the house, including Daddy’s beer.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea is an adorably cute musical play for children that is written and directed by David Wood and adapted from Judith Kerr's popular,  children’s picture book that was published in 1968.

This is a joyously playful show that tickles the funny bone of its target audience (3 years +), a group that has a sense of humour that is notoriously difficult to predict.

The children sing along with Sophie (Abby Norman), her Mummy (Jenanne Redman) and Daddy (Matthew Dudley), count the hours as time ticks by on the kitchen clock and scream, “He’s behind you!” when Tiger arrives at the door.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Wind in the Willows, 31 Dec 2014 ****

Adapted from Kenneth Grahame by Glenn Elston
Australian Shakespeare Company
Botanical Gardens, Gate F entry, until 24 Jan 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ****

Review also published in Herald Sun after Sun 4 Jan 2015. Sorry for delay in upload here but I've been away at the beach! 
My favourite line from this show was the kid yelling, "Get out of our picnic!" Gold. KH

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The Amazing Mr. Toad and his bonny, boisterous and belligerent pals are back in the Botanical Gardens to play The Wind in The Willows for littlies and biggies alike.

This summer’s season marks the 28th year of Glenn Elston’s outdoor production adapted from Kenneth Grahame’s original, very British book for children.

Veteran of the Willows cast, Roscoe Mathers, invests Head Chief Rabbit with his wry humour, musical skill and easy, engaging manner as MC and chief jokester.

Mathers’ Rabbit also blatantly snaffles snacks from picnic baskets causing one protective child to holler, “Get out of our picnic!”

The children giggle and howl at the characters’ mad antics, go on an adventure with Head Chief Rabbit, Ratty and Mole, then join a dangerous mission with the Rat Pack and Badger Patrol to rescue little, lost Portly the Otter from the Wild Wood.

They participate enthusiastically, calling out, “He’s behind you!” and singing lyrics such as, “Waggle your ears, wiggle your nose,” or the inimitable “Quack quack quackady-quack.”