Reviews

Mamma Mia!

Music & Lyrics; Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus. Additional songs by Stig Anderson. Book: Catherine Johnson. Empire Theatres Production. Director: James Shaw. Musical Director: Craig Renshaw. Choreographer: Tess Hill. Empire Theatre, Toowoomba, Qld, 5-15 Mar, 2020.

On the 20th anniversary of presenting pro-am productions of musicals in the refurbished Empire Theatre, it’s entirely appropriate the company should present Mamma Mia!, also celebrating its 20th anniversary. Ever since Judy Craymer originally conceived it, the show has been a licence to print money, having played to over 65 million people in 40 countries and grossing over $4 billion at the box office. The movie alone took $615 million worldwide.

Hamlet

By William Shakespeare. Bell Shakespeare. Sydney Opera House. February 29 – April 4, 2020.

Bell Shakespeare betters a run of disappointing shows with this conventional, touchingly domesticated telling of Hamlet

Screens of imposing snowclad forests surrounds the stage, interlaced in part with family videos of happier, nostalgic times for young Hamlet and his kin.

Spamalot

Book and lyrics by Eric Idle. Music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle. Directed by Richard Carroll. HOTA 5th-7th March, 2020. Touring Parramatta, Wyong, and Arts Centre Melbourne in 2020.

Let’s be honest, for committed lovers of musical theatre Spamalot is, perhaps, a steaming crock of Idle-ness (the Eric kind); whereas to true believers it is an homage to the ‘genius’ that is Monty Python and all things kitsch.

Don’t Hate the Player

Adelaide Fringe. Star Theatres, Adelaide. 5-8 March 2020

What’s the difference between actual and virtual realities? Not much, according to Laura McDonald’s play on being both trapped and liberated by technology.

Madeleine Osborne is Darcy, a young woman who spends much of her time living in a virtual reality headset, the game setting her challenges that distract her from the real world. Rhiannon Watson is, like, her ‘cool sister’, who has a job and a string of ex-boyfriends, reluctantly drawn into the game after her breakdown about her break-up.

Between Tiny Cities

Adelaide Festival. (Australia and Cambodia). Lion Arts Theatre. 28 February - 4 March, 2020

Between Tiny Cities is an exciting and thrilling hip-hop dance piece, created by Australian hip-hop choreographer Nick Power. It is the result of a wonderful collaboration over four years between hip-hop groups in Darwin and Cambodia.

Dimanche

By Julie Tenret, Sicaire Durieux and Sandrine Heyraud. Cie Chaliwate & Cie Focus (Belgium). Adelaide Festival. Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre. February 28 – March 7, 2020

Dimanche, presented by Cie Chaliwate & Cie Focus from Belgium is an extraordinary piece of ‘family theatre’, and is a welcomed addition to this year’s Adelaide Festival. We journey through inter-related sketches involving a small group of people facing apocalyptic change. Whilst never directly stated, this apocalypse is the result of severe climate change. Subsequently, whilst relatively harrowing and tragic, it is also extremely topical and relevant at this time.

The Winter’s Tale

By William Shakespeare. Presented as part of Asia Topia. Directed by Bob Pavlich. La Mama Courthouse 349 Drummond Street Carlton. 4-8 March, 2020.

This is an interesting and accomplished co-production between Hong Kong Shax Theatre Group and La Trobe Student Theatre that explores the plays themes well.

Enterprise

Adelaide Fringe. Black Box Theatre, Noel Lothian Hall, Adelaide. 3-15 March 2020

Four business colleagues try to save their company from the brink of collapse in this express comedy from American writer Brian Parks – and this corporate satire finds new laughs in familiar places.

Vivaldi’s Venice

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Artistic Director: Paul Dyer. Harp Soloist: Xavier de Maistre. ABO, Concert Hall, QPAC. 3 March 2020

At the completion of last night’s program, Xavier de Maistre quipped at how incongruous it was playing “Winter” in Summer as a reference to Brisbane’s currently sticky heat. But the piece, which comes from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”, was one of the highlights of Vivaldi’s Venice, a concert of baroque music by Venetian composers with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and guest artist French harp poster-boy Xavier de Maistre.

Dietrich: Natural Duty

Adelaide Fringe Festival 2020. Black Box Theatre – Adelaide Botanic Gardens March 3 – 15, 2020

Marlene Dietrich was one of the most glamorous leading ladies of the 1930s and 1940s. She will always be remembered for her smouldering sex appeal and distinctive voice. Her long career spanned from the 1910s to the 1980s and during this time she continually reinvented herself.