KING KONG, Regent Theatre, Melbourne, 15 June 2013. Photos: above Kong and esther Hannaford; right: Queenie van de Zandt.
Reviewed by Bryce Hallett
The culmination of five years' development by Australian producer Global Creatures, King Kong has been keenly anticipated amid tantalising glimpses of the hulking beast as it evolved in the workshop. When the production and its star, the 6m silverback gorilla combining animatronics and puppetry, was finally revealed in all its glory at Saturday's (June 15, 2013) world premiere it brought with it a level of innovation and ambition seldom witnessed on the Australian stage.
There are pools of brilliance in the director Daniel Kramer's feast for the senses. It unites the old and the new; the worlds of vaudeville, classic song and dance, puppetry, circus, animatronics and state-of-the-art screen technology. At times the worlds blur and collide, sometimes they falter and make little sense at all, and when they coalesce the result is magical, adventurous and thrilling. In its best moments, King Kong is luminous, transporting and heartfelt.
THE MAIDS, Sydney Theatre Company at Sydney Theatre, June 4-July 20, 2013. Photos by Lisa Tomasetti: Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert. Right: Elizabeth Debicki.
On opening night someone asked, "why would you stage this play now?" Aside from the most obvious answer: to give two great actresses a chance to stretch their legs and have a rare old gallop, there's another possibly even better reason: what it tells us about the secret life of France. Around the world the impetus towards marriage equality – aka giving gays equal rights – is all in one direction and with scarcely a murmur of dissent. Except in France – home of the chic, the sophisticated, the worldly, the debonair, the c'est la vie, nurturer of hetero-roues such as Roman Polanski and Dominique Strauss Kahn – where demonstrations against the legalisation of same sex marriage have been huge and extremely violent. Qu'est que ce?
CAVALIA, Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park to June 26, 2013.
BY CAROLINE BAUM
Twenty years ago I saw a show in Paris that burned itself into my memory as one of those unrepeatable experiences you treasure for a lifetime. Described pretentiously as an ‘equestrian opera’, it was a spectacle unlike any other: performed in a sawdust ring inside a replica Russian wooden church in a dodgy part of the city. Spectators were ushered inside by the solemn tolling of bells, as if to attend a service. There was something sacred and profane about what followed. An intoxicating dreamscape in which man and horse became centaurs, dancing to the ragged, swirling sounds of a band of Rajasthani gypsies who clashed cymbals and beat drums to make the blood race.
ANGELS IN AMERICA: a Gay Fantasia on National Themes; parts 1 and 2: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika; Upstairs Belvoir, June 1 2013. Photos by Heidrun Lohr: above DeObia Oparei, Paula Arundell and Luke Mullins; right: Robyn Nevin.
Blessings are upon us! The angels have arrived in Surry Hills and they are magnificent.
Tony Kushner won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with this epic fantasy and it was by then already the stuff of legend. Written (and performable) in two discrete parts that nevertheless overlap in time and characters, Angels is at once small stories of everyday life as well as a wide-ranging socio-political drama of late 20th century America. There are two main strands that link the characters, the places and the events, and they are piquantly opposed and linked. In Mormonism and AIDS, Kushner put his finger on two of the most alarming elements of American society of the time. And humans being the change-averse beings that we are, there's an awful familiarity about it all today.
THE REMOVALISTS, Tamarama Rock Surfers at Bondi Pavilion, May 22-June 15, 2013. Photos by Zak Kazcmarek: Sophie Hensser, right: Justin Stewart Cotta.
Written and first staged in Melbourne 1971, The Removalists was a huge and controversial success for David Williamson - and the young playwright's first really big hit. It held up an unforgiving mirror to a society in tumultuous transition and people were disturbed by what they saw. There are few things more disconcerting than laughing and then realising that what you're laughing at is not only not funny at all but also - the truth.
Seeing it again, at Bondi in 2013, in Leland Kean's sharp and beautifully staged production, it's a reminder of how good WIlliamson is when he puts his mind to it, and also that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Forty years on, the subjects explored in the play are all too familiar: police corruption - tick; police brutality - tick; domestic violence - tick; casual sexism - tick; dumb sexism - tick. And so on.
NOEL AND GERTIE, CDP Productions at Glen St Theatre, 21 May-1 June 2013, then touring NSW, Victoria and to Adelaide. Photos by Nicholas Higgins: Lucy Maunder and James Millar.
On the face of it Noel and Gertie is a simple confection of Coward wit and brilliance - light, bright and delicious. But Noel Coward was so much more than merely witty and brittle and in this new production, directed with finesse and sensitivity by Nancye Hayes, the depth of his "talent to amuse" is revealed - for those not familiar with him, and for those who are - the reminder is a delight.
As well as Hayes, the other ingredients are an exceptional musical director and accompanist in Vincent Colagiuri, and the casting of James Millar and Lucy Maunder as the Meryl Streep of her day. They guarantee that this effervescent souffle of a show is never in the slightest danger of collapse.
Luminous, transporting and heartfelt
It resonates with the onstage dynamics
All the pretty horses
There is so much to savour and to love about this production
A modern classic and a must-see production
STAGENOISE ON THE HIGH SEAS
Blessed silence for two weeks.
THE RISE AND RISE OF KING KONG
Broadway beckons. Spiderman watch out!
NEXT TO NORMAL: GONE
Why can't the producers get it right?
PHRYNE FISHER TO RETURN!
Terribly fashionable, unmistakably glamorous and handy with a pistol
MARGARET WHITLAM - 1919-2012
We will miss her
Robots Vs Art
June 21 - July 7 (NSW)
Sir David Attenborough- A Life on Earth
June 22 (VIC)
June 24 (NSW)
June 25 - 30 (NSW)
GO YOUR OWN WAY: The Story of Christine McVie
June 26 (NSW)
June 26 - 30 (QLD)
Disney on Ice: Princesses and Heroes
June 27 - 30 (QLD)