Reviews - 2004

Current - 2004 - 2003 - Pre-2003

Our reviewers are the peers of Adelaide Theatre. They are fellow audience members, directors, actors, committee members, etc, with experience in journalism.
Like other audience members, their reviews/opinions are given on overall enjoyment and value for money so that you may make a more informed choice.

Shows: Adelaide Festival 2004
Jan - Jun 2004 ... Jul - Dec 2004

Adelaide Festival 2004 ... Adelaide Fringe 2004 ... Weimar Cabaret Fringe 2004

12 Angry Men
100 The Imaginary Body
And On The Thousandth Night…
Body Dreaming
First Night
I Bought A Spade At Ikea To Dig My Own Grave
Night Lettters
Rocket & Roxy's Stunt Show
The Big, Big Top Show
The Blue Show
The Overcoat

State Theatre Company of South Australia
The Queen's Theatre

Review by Nikki Gaertner

State Theatre has brought an outstanding piece to the Adelaide Festival this year with a production that is nothing short of breathtaking and awe inspiring. Based on a novel by Robert Dessaix and written by Susan Rogers, Night Letters tells the story of an Australian man diagnosed with an incurable disease who travels to Europe to gather meaning in his life and writes nightly letters to his love back home.

The story is presented over three and a half hours in three acts and weaves together three stories spanning three centuries. Some may imagine it a challenge to concentrate on and enjoy a show of this duration, but the time certainly flew by as the audience hung on every word uttered on stage. The set too, was absolutely enchanting, presenting an atmosphere of a haunted Venice, with impressive arches looming over a paved square and a watery moat at the forefront.

To single out any one performer from this talented cast is almost impossible, as each demonstrated great strength and versatility across a wide range of characters. From Alison Whyte's vivacious and anguished Antonietta to Paul Blackwell's light hearted professor; from Patrick Dickson's dual roles of the emotionally lost Peter and the tormented Stolte to Robert Morgan's callous characters of Lorenzo and Harry - there was not a weak link amongst them.

A special mention must go to Paula Arundell whose portrayal of the innocent and playful courtesan, Camilla, tugged at the heartstrings throughout the show. But my favourite performance of the night is by far that of Humphrey Bower in the pivotal role of Robert. Every line he spoke was driven with feeling and superbly natural - his entire performance was flawless. And it was refreshing to hear an Australian accent that didn't grind or sound harsh against the many others throughout the show.

Chris Drummond should be commended for directing this exceptional show and establishing a stellar cast and brilliant production team. Set, costumes, actors and orchestra, each added to the magical experience presented to the audience.

To say I'd highly recommend Night Letters would be an understatement. Five stars seems hardly enough to do it justice, but unfortunately I can't give it any more.

5 stars out of 5

Top of Page


Forced Entertainment
Royalty Theatre

Review by Andy Ahrens

Make no mistake, And on the Thousandth Night… is workshop theatre. Seven actors sat on seven chairs and improvised the telling of stories within a set framework of rules. A story was never finished, lasted anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes and had to link to the previous story in some way.

Many may have experienced theatre games of this type, but not one that lasts for six hours. Those who left the performance early could be forgiven for asking where this fits into the realm of art. Those who acknowledged its value gave the show a standing ovation.

The cast's incredible imagination and wit needs to be commended. They held exceptional focus and concentration for the duration. If focus was lost, the rules of the game would bring it back. When the improvisation became too comic causing an actor to laugh, another actor would quickly begin a new story, usually concerning a serious topic, to regain control over the improvisation.

After three hours the actors' defenses were down, their brains scrambled as they struggled to think straight. What came out - just came out, and we saw glimpses of the real and personal as the stories began to involve the actors' themselves. Approaching the six hour mark, the actors were working in a delirious state and the audience became as much a part of the journey as the actors themselves.

This is theatre in the 'raw' focussing on the process rather than the product. It offers exceptional value to drama and improvisation enthusiasts but little entertainment value to the traditional theatregoer still wanting a beginning, middle and an end.

Top of Page


Forced Entertainment
Royalty Theatre

Review by Theresa Dolman

You know you are in for a night of it when you are directed to seats in the dress circle with a commanding view of the sound bloke's head. Seven people with tickets for seats in front of us found that their seats had been removed entirely.

As the lights went down we were able to move into a couple of seats further along the row, from which we could see the stage. This was not necessarily a good move.

First Night looks like vaudeville. The cast of five men and three women emerge one at a time and make their way to the front of the stage. They grin uncomfortably at the audience from behind their blue eye shadow and rosy cheeks, lit by footlights at the front of the stage. Then nothing happens.

The show presents perhaps half a dozen different scenes over two hours. Many of the ideas show promise at the start, but every scene turns into an endurance test for the audience. The cast come out from behind the curtains wearing blindfolds, and have clairvoyant visions about members of the audience. It is amusing at first, but wears thin after what seems like half an hour.

There are a few good moments, but most of the show is just tedious, and apparently deliberately so.

Forced? Certainly. Entertainment? Definitely not. Perhaps it is art. The show would have been quite good as a set of photographs. You could look at the surreal images, then go home.

Some people seemed to like it. I wasn't one of them.

1 star out of 5

Top of Page


David Gulpilil
Dunstan Playhouse - Festival Centre

Review by Sue Oldknow

It is a unique experience to share a little of what it is like to be David Gulpilil.

As he expresses it, he is a man with a foot in each world, the world of his traditional aboriginal upbringing and the consumerist world of predominantly white Australia.

As a child he became a household name in such movies as "Walkabout" and "Storm Boy" and you would think that he would be a wealthy man today.

But between the exploitation of Western society and the expectations of his Aboriginal culture he has nothing much left in the way of possessions. He is, however, rich in stories.

And his stories are what he shares with his audience, funny, sad, bittersweet and ironic stories told with a great deal of charm and skill that makes it all seem so intimate, even in a crowded theatre.

It takes a lot of concentration to tune into the language and winding journey of the piece, but there is enough light and shade, variety within the performance and glimpses at old movies to keep your attention for the 2 hours of performance.

This is a masterful one man show, with an honesty that is sometimes painful but made palatable and entertaining by the humour and spirit of this great performer.

Five stars.

Top of Page


La Carniceria Teatro
Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre

Review by Rod Lewis

Creator/Director Rodrigo Garcia offers a piece that is more Theatre of the Insane than the Absurd.

It's a consumer's nightmare as Patricia Lamas, Juan Loriente, Ruben Escamilla and Anna Maria Hidalgo stick the proverbial finger up all things commercial. From food stuff to the marketing of the famous - each gets a nod.

This play is not for the queasy. It contains very strong language, nudity, an exploding turkey, and food being shoved into crevices that are not normally seen in public.

It is also extremely funny. Through the shock of it all, the explicit surtitles translate most of the witty dialogue, adding to the visual mayhem that will put you off lasagne for life.

The company's name - La Carnicería Teatro - means "the butchery of theatre" and this performance lives up to that claim! Everything is butchered, nothing is sacred.

Don't eat before you see it!

4 stars out of 5

Top of Page


Circus Oz
Cnr. Botanic Road and Dequetteville Terrace.

Review by Wendy Mildren

This show is billed as being "awesome, intimate, crazy and beautiful - cunning, cocky and totally out of control". It's all of that and more.

Every member of Circus Oz appears to be multi-skilled and involved in every aspect of the show, from the loud voice of the front of house manager (who also doubled as an usher) to the wildly dressed and tutu-ed male ushers (who also doubled as stage hands).

The Circus had the audience in their hands from the opening fiery spectacular and never let go to the last bow. The action was fast paced and high on energy. The acts were brilliant - three standouts were the "human fly" routine performed by Tim Coldwell (aka Happy) where he walked upside down on a platform on the roof of the big top, the hilarious flying trapeze act performed by sulphur crested cockatoos, and finally the incredible contortions of Sosina Wogayehu (aka Sosi).

Looking around the huge big top, which by the way was beautifully airconditioned, it brought a whole new meaning to the phrase "for all ages", as the audience consisted of people from babes in arms to geriatrics. Only a few of the babies went to sleep the rest of us were sweaty palmed watching some of the incredibly death defying feats.

I would thoroughly recommend this show to everyone.

5 stars.

Top of Page


Windmill Performing Arts
Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre

Review by Rod Lewis

Although aimed at the young, this beautiful and comic piece by Scott Rankin is a satisfying ghost story for any age group.

Beautifully realised by Richard Roberts and inspired by the paintings of Riverland artist Ian Abdulla, RiverlanD is one of the most visually satisfying works you're likely to see this Festival.

The story tells of three generations of a city-slicking Aboriginal family who return to the grandmother's land laden down with portable TV, esky, laptop and a longing for McDonalds.

The grandmother had grown up in these parts at the time of the 1956 floods and the spirit of the river runs deep, haunting her to pass her heritage onto the grandchildren.

Lillian Crombie is central to the action as grandmother Gracie who refuses to remember the past. Pauline Whyman is suitably corporate as the mother taking a studious approach to her past, while Ursula Yovich and Luke Carroll are wonderful as the rebellious children.

Rod Smith gives the most versatile performance as Paulie, the mysterious stranger who is both dangerous and loving.

A number of children portray pelicans, spirits and the like to add to the fun of Wesley Enoch's direction.

Superb use of a scrim gives a haunting feel to the more supernatural aspects of this play, with Matt Scott's lighting design balancing the eerie and the comical.

One of Windmill's best.

4½ stars out of 5

Top of Page


Arts Projects Australia
Scott Theatre

Review by Andy Ahrens

Who says comedians can't play it straight? These 12 comedians have laid aside their comic wit for the sake of justice in the classic play, 12 Angry Men, which questions justice and the jury system itself.

A young man has been accused of murder and the 12 men of the jury must decide his fate by unanimous vote. This is easier said than done, and we are shown how personal prejudices, emotions and hurts affect our rational thinking.

The group dynamics in this jury room is especially gripping, and the process of reaching a verdict becomes as important as the verdict itself.

The drama tends to be more entertaining than compelling (comedians still can't help themselves) but the crucial theme, that one should be allowed to have an opinion without being persecuted for doing so, is carried well by the cast.

Strong performances are given all round, with several characters aided by alterations to the script. The tension is retained throughout with the effective decision to run the play without interval.

If you have ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in a jury room, this is the play for you.

4 stars out of 5

Top of Page


Daredevil Opera Company
Universal Playground

Review by Theresa Dolman

If you enjoy explosions then you'll love Rocket and Roxy's Stunt Show.

On a balmy night in Adelaide, in the perfect outdoor setting at the Universal Playground, the audience was greeted by two members of the Danger Be Damned Orchestra belting out circus themes from their shared electronic calliope. Then BANG! Before the show has even started, untamed lunatic Tom Comet has blown up one of the stars, Roxanne Rolls. A new Roxy had to be found. Fortunately, there is a woman in the front row of the audience who will fit into Roxy's skimpy costume and jet-propelled roller skates.

While the new Roxy is being prepared, Johnny Rocket enters. He is so handsome that he has to wear a mask, to protect the ladies. Rocket explains that as a child his mother had tried too hard to keep him out of danger. But now---danger be damned! He tells us of his plan to pogo stick his way to the moon, providing he isn't first blown up by Tom Comet.

Rocket starts the show by fighting the flammable three-headed Hound from Hades. It is like watching a cartoon, played by real people.

Next, the volunteer Roxy shoots across the stage looking a bit like Olive Oyl on skates.

The show is fast-paced, with fire, explosions, chainsaws, more fire, juggling, stilt-walking, a straight-jacket escaped (on stilts!), unicycling, more explosions, a western scene with guns, bombs, exploding fruit, a unique kazoo solo, a flaming electric slack wire, the motorised pogo-stick and still more fire and explosions.

Not your run-of-the-mill opera. Four-and-a-half stars (that's my rating, not the final body count).

Top of Page


Adelaide Festival Theatre

Review by Hayley Horton

Not quite dance, yet certainly fluid with movement and expression, Canstage are a welcome addition to the Adelaide Festival program with their delightful production.

The production is a wordless tale of an ordinary man, isolated from his family, work colleagues and the world around him. All of this changes when he commissions a tailor to make him a snazzy new overcoat. However, this is a tale of misfortune and the need to face the consequences of vanity and materialism.

Underscored by Dmitry Shostakovich's sometimes haunting, sometimes joyful music, the performers move with clarity and emotion allowing the message to ring true to any audience member of any background.

The only criticism of this production is the lack of a live orchestra to play the stunning music, which fits so perfectly with the stage craft. The sets are stunning, yet understated and each performer has a place, with unique characters and movements.

Peter Anderson as "The Man" is particularly well cast, with the look of the "every day man" and a performance ability to showcase the full range of emotions to a packed theatre.

This is a unique production, which Adelaide cannot afford to let slip by - book now as many productions are filling up!

5 stars

Top of Page


Circus Oz
Universal Playground

Review by Nick Setchell

This show has so much to praise. Circus Oz have delivered the perfect balance of energy, strength, grace, athleticism and fabulously matched music. All form part of a foundation that underpins a great nights entertainment.

Raw strength is refined by effortless grace. Clever staging matches acrobatic and musical talent in duets that satisfy many senses. The multi faceted talent of the company richly rewards the audience.

The musical component of the performance spans cool jazz, gypsy rhythms, soulful blues, Gaelic themes and haunting classics. All are perfectly matched to contrast and compliment the physical performances.

Variety is the spice of circus performance and this show has plenty. Both the trapeze acts were spectacular. Astonishing strength presented with effortless grace. The same is true of the giant wheel performance.

Forget the traditional unicycle, this performance had a brilliant dancing BMX. The juggler started slowly, but spurred on by the company built to 7 balls inverted while negotiating stairs.

The director chair stack was clever, gymnastic elegance on a stack of 7 chairs while singing love ballads - amazing stuff. Comedy was provided by hilariously offensive mechanical talking dog. Tap dancing was thrown is for good measure.

This production is so refreshing. Forget the traditional tools of circus. "The Blue Show" re-defines the boundaries of circus performance and raises the bar on multi talented multi faceted entertainment.


Top of Page


Amphitheatre, Adelaide Festival Centre

Review by Fran Edwards

Although we were let into the Amphitheatre on time, we had to wait for sunset before the performance began. It was worth the wait. The performance was complimented by visuals on a large screen behind the dancers, which were provided by an unobtrusive cameraman who selected differing aspects to highlight during the production.

Two groups of differently dressed men entered the performance space lead by a woman. The first group carrying spears dressed in red nargas (like a loincloth), the second, carrying what looked like clubs dressed in green nargas. The performers, from the Yirritja and Dhuwa moieties from Arnhem Land, were introduced by Banduk Marika, a visual artist and Co-creative Director of this enterprise. After a brief explanation of the two Moieties, she handed over to the other Co-creative Director, Djakapurra Munyarryun who explained a little of the body painting we were observing.

All of this was accompanied by singing, sticks and didgeridoo playing. This in itself was interesting, but the dancing was fascinating. The dancers came forward, sometimes all, sometimes just a few, and performed many different dances. A few were obviously connected to aggression or battle, very ritualised; others were based on recognisable native animals. The kangaroo was my personal favourite delightfully rendered by two of the best dancers.

The smoke created atmosphere, the red dust, which rose in clouds around them in the more energetic numbers, provided a perfect dance floor and the darkening sky was the best backdrop. For me the only thing missing was an explanation of the significance of each dance. I know that there are things which people outside the tribes cannot be told, but the appreciation of the history and cultural significance would be enhanced by a commentary which gives insight to the origins and importance. The evening was a glimpse into another lifetime.

4.5 stars out of 5

Top of Page


Arts Projects Australia
Scott Theatre

Review by Theresa Dolman

Imagine you are about to die, and you are given a limited time---the time it takes to count to 100---to choose one, and only one, memory to take with you into eternity. All other memories will be lost, forever.

The Guide (Pip Donaghy) presents this dilemma to four new arrivals, mail courier Alex (David Rubin), his wife Nia (Claire Porter), successful young executive Sophie (Amanda Drew), and jungle tribe philosopher Ketu (Faz Singhateh).

Using just 5 bamboo poles and an orange, the five-person ensemble takes you back into each of their lives to find those magic moments they want to relive forever. We watch as each person's life is torn apart, and their relationships tested, trying to find that one memory.

The cast showed incredible versatility, not only in their depictions of the various characters, but also in their miming and in the sounds they produced to enhance the atmosphere and transport the audience into their different worlds.

Whilst the subject of death may sound macabre, the play expertly balances the heart-wrenching moments with moments of humour. Brilliantly directed by Christopher Heimann, with subtle lighting on an empty stage, the cast recreates scenarios from Christmas parties to jungle expeditions.

What happens if the memory you chose is not approved.? And what happens if you can't choose just one?

100 is a thought-provoking journey into the next world. See it before you die.

5 stars out of 5

Top of Page


For more reviews, please visit the Messenger Newspaper website by clicking here

Adelaide Theatre Guide
Est. 1996     © 1996 Rod Lewis
Website design by Rod Lewis

Please read the copyright and disclaimerinformation