Wednesday 31 August 2022

Il Mago di Oz review

It's been over 120 years since the release of L. Frank Braum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which a young girl called Dorothy Gale is swept away by a tornado and carried to the Land of Oz. While many would have read the 1900 story and many more would have seen the 1939 film, it is the first time that Italian composer Pierangelo Valtinoni’s opera, Il Mago di Oz, is being performed in Australia. Presented by the Victorian Opera, the opera mostly sticks to the source material but manages to throw in a few contemporary references to  surprise audiences.

Soprano Georgia Wilkinson as Dorothy possesses great presence and charisma as the determined and brave Dorothy and an even more captivating voice that takes us on a vocal journey that matches the magic of the physical one that Dorothy takes us on. James Emerson, Stephen Marsh and Michael Dimovksi deliver distinct characterisations to The Cowardly Lion, The Tin Man and The Scarecrow, with their voices supporting each other but able to take the lead when required.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Iphis review

It's been a number of years since I've seen an opera by Lyric Opera and there is great anticipation as to not only what story they choose to tell with each production but also the innovation and the uniqueness in which they will present it, and Iphis is no exception.

Running at just 70 minutes, this is a short opera but there is much that is covered in Iphis, beginning with Telethusa going through labour (and what a memorable labour it is) as her husband, Lidgus, eagerly awaits the arrival of a son. However, Telethusa gives birth to a girl and in order to protect her child (and herself) from her husband's wrath, secretly raises Iphis as a boy. Fast forward a decade or two and Lidgus is preparing to marry Iphis off to Ianthe, which introduces various issues around gender, identity and relationships.

Saturday 27 August 2022

Heart Is A Wasteland review

In John Harvey’s Heart Is A Wasteland, a chance encounter at a pub leads two people on a road trip through the Australian Outback where they are forced to face the problems they’ve been long running away from. Directed by Rachel Maza, this First Nations storytelling and live music production tells a compelling and relatable tale of trying to find your place in the world.

Having seen the premiere production at Malthouse Theatre in 2017 starring Ursula Yovich and Aaron Pedersen, Maza’s decision to cast two leads considerably younger than Yovich and Pedersen is an interesting choice that pays off brilliantly. While Yovich and Pedersen delivered exceptional performances, Ari Maza Long and Monica Jasmine Karo bring a youthful energy to this production which makes for a fresh and alternative viewing experience for the audience as we see these two Indigenous people, at an age where naivety and jadedness begin to clash, deal with the wounds in their lives and also the wounds of their community and ancestors.

Saturday 20 August 2022

Scream Star review

Worlds collide in Speak Percussion's new collaborative performance, Scream Star, where three artists from around the globe have come together with three pieces of live music that intersect sound, the moving image and percussion. London-based Matthew Shlomowitz, German Johannes Kreidler and New Yorker Jessie Marino present unique compositions that investigate the playfulness and creativity of sound and music exploration.

The opener by Shlomowitz is an imagined variety show called Hey Hey It’s Tuesday. Archival footage of people lining up for shows, on stage, backstage and everything in between is projected onto a screen as the composers play with a number of percussion instruments including cymbals, drums and xylophones. Through this, we discover  ways of how the moving image can interact with new sounds and to appreciate new ways of hearing sound. The segment involving the Kiama Blowhole, the largest in the world, is a particular highlight.

Saturday 6 August 2022

Rebel review

Playwright Fleur Kilpatrick did not set out to write Rebel, but this serendipitous act has resulted in a warm-hearted play that shares the stories of senior climate and environmental activists. From Queensland to Western Australia and to New South Wales, Kilpatrick met and spoke with several "rebels" and discussed how and why they were doing what they were doing to protect the planet while also bringing up the idea of what makes someone a rebel.

Being familiar with Kilpatrick's writing and having met her a few times, you could mot have picked someone better than Ayesha Tansey to portray her - except if Kilpatrick herself had taken to the stage. Tansey convincingly displays Fleur's sensitivity to the world around her and her curiosity about people and community. She brings forth Fleur's caring nature and kindness as she explores the state of the planet and how hope is not completely lost.

Wednesday 3 August 2022

We Too Us Too Me Too Too Too review

There aren't many companies or performers that could promote a show as a dark satirical physical comedy about rape and murder and actually be able to deliver the goods. Fortunately, after years in the making, The Bouffonery have proven it is more than up for the challenge with We Too Us Too Me Too Too Too and its brutal takedown of the patriarchy through the art of bouffon.

Wearing beige hooded unitards with grotesquely exaggerated growths, the four bouffons (Kimberly Twiner, Ell Sachs, Lucy Kingsley and Nicholas O’Regan) move their way to the centre of the stage where they simulate a series of births that don't go exactly to plan, that is of course, until Jimmy is born. While exploring issues related to gendered violence and toxic masculinity with numerous sketches and scenes, Jimmy is used to ground the show and keep bringing us back to its main idea.