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: Jul - Dec 2004
Jan - Jun 2004 ... Jul - Dec 2004

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

42nd Street (Return Season)
4.48 Psychosis
A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg
Afternoon Of The Elves
An Evening with Dennis Olsen
An Evening with Queen Victoria
A Toe In The Water
Bad Day At Black Frog Creek
Boston Marriage
Brilliant Lies
Caught In The Net
Daisy Pulls It Off
Daniel Deronda
Educating Rita
Eva Encore
Festival Of One - Blowing It
Five Women Wearing The Same Dress
Future Of The Species #1
Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)
Hay Fever
HMS Pinafore
Hobson's Choice
It Was A Dark And Stormy Night
Jazz Wrestling
La Bohème
Les Miserables
Lloyd George Knew My Father
Man Of La Mancha
Mega Drag
Motion Sickness
Mr Mcgee And The Biting Flea
Music Glorious Music
Natural Causes
Night of the Ding Dong
Night Must Fall
Night Watch
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Over The Rainbow
Pardon Me, Prime Minister
Pirates Of Penzance
Rachael Beck in Concert
Relatively Speaking
Robinson Crusoe
Romeo & Juliet + Macbeth (Shakespeare Double Bill)
Secret Men's Business
Shaolin Warriors
Sharon, Keep Ya Hair On
Sketch Comedy Extravaganza GSOH!
Stepping Out
Still Angela
Sunday In The Park With George
Take A Chance On Me
The Comedy Of Errors
The Getaway Bus
The Gondoliers
The Last Cab To Darwin
The Little Mermaid
The Maids
The Perfect Murder
The Siren's Kiss
The Sound Of Music
The Topp Twins
The Woman In Black
Trojan Women
Twelfth Night
Vanishing Point
Wyrd Sisters
You're A Good Man Charlie Brown

Vitalstatistix in association with inspace
Space Theatre
Until 27 November

Review by Simon Slade

This is a one-hander about a woman who entered a laboratory for a contracted period of seven years. At the end of that time, she will receive a quarter of a million dollars. In the meantime, she has her embryos harvested by multinational corporations for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.

Maude Davey stars in this vision of the world as it might become. Stark contrasts are drawn between the lives of people from different backgrounds and with different positions in life. The show is not concerned with creating realistic portrayals of what the future may actually be like, but rather with the effect that it has on one woman. In doing so it explores morals and ethics. Careers, motherhood, dependency and even cosmetic surgery are touched on in a text that has quite a bit of humour in it.

Davey holds the audience's attention as she snaps between different characters on the simple set, where the audience surrounds a circle of futuristic gravel. Geoff Cobham's design was simple in concept and yet showed attention to detail, both in terms of the set and the lighting, and shows the value of his experience in non-theatre venues.

Ingrid Voorendt has taken on the challenge of directing a work that is both written and performed by Davey. The quality of the finished product speaks volumes about how well they work together.

A soundtrack composed by DJ TR!P was a brilliant combination of sounds, songs and motifs that fitted the laboratory setting.

Vitalstatistix have once again produced a challenging and thought provoking show dealing with real issues. Having said that, the Kylie Minogue plastic surgery sausage is an image that will remain with me for a long time!

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Tea Tree Players
Tea Tree Players’ Theatre

Review by Nikki Gaertner

The Tea Tree Players generally finish off the year with a fun filled pantomime for the whole family. But while viewers will be used to seeing fairy tales such as Cinderella or Snow White in panto form, this latest choice should be a refreshing change.

Many will know the story of Robinson Crusoe, stranded alone (almost) on his desert island. But this story has been enhanced with the inclusion of many new characters to share Robinson’s adventure.

The romantic lead characters of Robinson and Polly are portrayed by Gabbie Brown and Stefanie Goodwin respectively. Add to these Karl Bull in a panto-dame role of Mrs Perkins, David Kinna and Paul Briske as comic sailor duo, Fore and Aft, Brian Godfrey as Robinson’s dazed brother Billy, and Robert Uyen as Captain Cutlass the pirate and you have a varied and colourful show indeed.

The kids will love this rendition, complete with tailored set, bright costumes and plenty of crowd interaction, so get them down to the Tea Tree Players’ Theatre for Robinson Crusoe before the end of the season.

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Adelaide Repertory Theatre
Arts Theatre, Angas Street, Adelaide

Review by Theresa Dolman

Michael Coombe has done an excellent job directing ‘Caught In The Net’, Ray Cooney’s hilarious sequel to his well-known ‘Run For Your Wife’.

In ‘Run For Your Wife’ we are introduced to John Smith, a taxi driver who manages to juggle his shifts and his two wives, Mary and Barbara. Due to an unfortunate accident the wives almost meet but with the help of his lodger, Stan, his secret is kept safe. ‘Caught In The Net’ continues the story 20 years later when his daughter Vicki, to wife Mary, and son Gavin, to wife Barbara, ‘meet’ over the net and decide they must meet in person to examine the coincidences they have found regarding their fathers.

Tony Busch is perfect as Stanley Gardner; his natural timing is what a farce director dreams for in his actors. Brian Knott was riotous as the bigamist John Smith, and the comedy flows rapidly both verbally and visually. They are ably supported by Adelaide Rep regulars Linda LeCornu and Julie Quick as the wives Mary and Barbara; their characterisations are perfect all the way through to the final twist.

George Banders and Melody Feder were brilliant as the teenagers Vicki and Gavin, both showing the natural arrogance and frustration of teenagers whilst extracting every ounce of humour from their situations. John Leigh Gray was a delight as Stanley’s dad, the senile old codger who thinks he is on holiday with his son.

The colourful set utilised every inch of the large Arts Theatre stage and was a credit to Stephen Dean and Linda Davey.

If you love farce you will love ‘Caught in the Net’, running until Saturday 27th November. Don’t get caught missing out on this one!

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Noarlunga Theatre Company
Arts Centre, 22 Gawler Street, Port Noarlunga

Review by Wendy Mildren

Noarlunga Theatre Company are staging a tribute to the great Richard Rogers as their last production for 2004. Opening night truly was an enchanted evening.

An extremely talented young cast of nine sing the glorious music from Sound of Music, Pal Joey, The Flowerdrum Song, South Pacific, and Oklahoma to name a few. The audience was seated in cabaret seating and was encouraged to join in the singing, which they did with much gusto.

The standout performances were Sally Davis' rendition of "Climb every mountain", Kirilie Blythman's version of "Love look away", Robert Tomkins' performance of "You'll never walk alone", and Cat Lever's rendition of "Honey bun" using a shanghaied member of the audience!

First-timer, Adam Timm showed great promise with his version of "Shall we dance" and Joanne Sutton's version of "I can't say no" was delivered with great personality. Mark Delanie provided the comic relief as well as a strong light baritone.

The singers were accompanied by Emma Knights on a keyboard. Laurie Bird had constructed a Grand Piano out of balsa wood which was a knockout.

The performances will be each Friday and Saturday until 4 December. This is a night out which will leave you feeling uplifted and humming the tunes well after you've left the building.

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The South Australian Light Opera Society Inc
Tower Arts Theatre
Until November 28

Review by Stephanie Johnson

Variety provides plenty of spice of life in the South Australian Light Opera Society’s Christmas show “Over the Rainbow”.

Songs from different genres, sing-alongs, skits and soloists all shine in this variety show.

Director and choreographer Pam Tucker and Musical Director Peter Potts are to be commended for the assortment of songs, colourful costumes, choreography, and entertainment value.

The night’s program is packed with solo and choral songs, as well as comedy skits and Christmas carols.

Such a heavy program, with so many costume and scene changes, could easily have become cumbersome but the pace is kept up well. Soloists perform at the front of the stage while scene changes carry on behind a backdrop curtain. The scene changes are mostly done swiftly and silently.

Song selections have been cleverly collated with themes such as “Flower Songs”, “Rainbow Songs”, “From the Movies”, “Songs of the Hearts” and, of course, many different Christmas carols and songs. These are interspersed with a few comic skits.

Multi-talented Peter Potts seems to be equally adept at music and comedy, Terry O’Donaghue is at home as an on-stage raconteur and Greg Mayman seems to enjoy his jokes as much as the audience. The men’s funny “Dance of the Swans” is a comedic highlight.

As with any variety song choice everyone will have his or her favourites, those songs that strike a personal chord.

Mine include Terry O’Donaghue’s heart-warming “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha”, Peter Pott’s entertaining “Easy as APC”, and Hamish Anear’s “Serenade” from “The Student Prince”.

Many merry moments shine in this celebratory show, but the star on the Christmas tree is Kathy Wardle with her standout performances of “No One Like You” and the beautiful “Perhaps Love” (with Hamish Anear).

If you are ready to enjoy a festive night of song in a cabaret setting in the lead-up to Christmas then this is the show.

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State Theatre Company
Dunstan Playhouse
Until 27 November 2004

Review by Simon Slade

Rosalba Clemente ends her time with State Theatre with a production that reflects much of what she has achieved in her time there. It is a new adaptation of Euripides' play, and it involves a chorus drawn from community choirs. It brings to life a 4000-year-old play and shows that the themes and morals of today are really little changed. War, with its associated atrocities has changed little. The effect on the families of the soldiers is the same.

For those of you used to seeing Greek tragedies performed without a large chorus, this show will be a revelation - a cast of 70 fills the stage! In addition, five musicians accompany the work with original compositions by Philip Griffin and Ross Daly. They use instruments of Eastern Mediterranean origin and some modern variations on them to create a moving soudscape.

Clemente has risen to the challenge of directing such a large group and created a piece that is visually and dramatically stunning. In doing so, she has not neglected the detail in the direction of the principals who give performances of exceptional depth within a somewhat stylised framework.

If there is a criticism of this production, it is that it fails to make a deep emotional connection with the audience early enough. For me, that really began as Gabriello White, as Astyanax, was carried away to the tower.

Dawn Langman, as Hecuba, conveys the emotional torture of a woman who has lost her whole family in one way or another, and is faced with the prospect of her own degradation. Her gut wrenching performance, in particular her interaction with Aliro Zavarce, as Talthybius, are outstanding.

Martha Lott, as Helen, is stunning. Whilst maintaining a statuesque presence on stage she manages to give us insight into the subtle nuances of her character and the emotional turmoil of the woman who is blamed for the war, by those on both sides.

The lighting design is excellent, Mark Shelton being a designer who clearly has an understanding of the importance of low levels of light, and of subtle and prolonged changes in level.

Bravo Rosalba and all her Trojan Women.

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8th Annual Feast Festival
Queens @ Fowler's Live
12 November only

Review by Rod Lewis

When it comes down to it, you simply know deep within you that only a drag queen can put the bar into cabaret.

Mega Drag was two hours of non-stop wig tossing, mincing beautiful ballads with hardcore rock and featuring a galaxy of overdone divas from Adelaide and interstate.

Regardless of talent - or lack of - no one could fault the fabulousness of the costumes, the expertise of the make up and the danger of high heels that were tall enough to qualify as stilts.

Such a showcase of music and mirth drew the best and worst of drag queens, from old stalwarts to up and coming glamour gals.

Rochelle and Fifi (two of the Mars Bar mainstays) proved that they do actually have talent as they belted out a number of tunes, including one of the show highlights, Twisted Sister's We're Not Going To Take It!

Victoria Square lip-synced a hysterically funny Janice Joplin routine, and Raven gave a heart-warming tribute to a dearly departed friend in what was, without a doubt, the best costume and performance of the night.

Melbourne's Kaye Sera hosted part of the evening with a biting tongue, quick wit and outrageous costume, introducing Shimmer Chernobyl, Krystal Brook, Misty Munday, Brenda Baklava, Desiree D'Orsay Lawrence, and many, many more.

Mega Drag is a one-night only extravaganza that has been a popular highlight of the Feast gay and lesbian cultural festival for several years now. It was surprising therefore to find a black backdrop to be the only decoration on the bare stage. For such a night, I would have expected a lot more glitz and glamour all round.

"Craig", on sound gave what someone in the audience deemed as "the worst performance in the history of theatre", with bad mixing, late cues and often having to be spoken to by the divas on stage. An appalling effort.

But despite both of these issues, the night was there to be laughed at and enjoyed. It was nice to see the blend of heterosexual and homosexual couples in the audience, and even for one such as myself who just doesn't understand cross-dressing, it was impossible not to be swept away by the mega-madness of Mega Drag.

Catch it again around this time next year!

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Venture Theatre Company
Christies Beach Primary School
Until November 20

Review by Simon Slade

Valerie Kelsey has written and directed this pantomime about Obelia, the mermaid who sets her sights on a handsome prince. Being a mermaid and unable to leave the sea might seem to be an insurmountable obstacle, until she visits Sequina the Squid for a magic spell.

Kelsey's writing is good, and her familiarity with the difficult space the cast is working in shows through, as she has directed the show to keep it moving along nicely. Her familiarity with the writing was an advantage for her on opening night, when she stepped in to the role of the King due to the illness of Correne Woolmer. She carried it off very well, and I would not have known that there was a change if I had not been told!

Teagan Coe as Obelia is everything you would expect of a beautiful and charming mermaid, and is paired well with the handsome and charming Craig Jeffery as Prince Al Larming. Grant Jeffery, as Sequina the Squid is hilarious, as is Laraine Ball, as the Royal Steward. Of the younger cast members, Jess Ramsay holds her own on the stage with her acting, and Jamie Keen, despite his youth, is confident, works well with the audience, and is clearly enjoying every minute of it.

Being a pantomime, audience involvement is a given, and Catherine Wallace, as Ollie the Octopus, works the crowd like a pro. Cherylene O'Brien as Bubble and Nicole Yardley as Squeak are the assistants to Sequina and both have a real talent for physical comedy. They work the crowd, too, and on the night I saw the show dealt really well with some unexpected responses from the audience.

Some lines were a bit rough, some of the singing needs some work, and some of the dancing did have the feel of an end of year dance concert, but this Company is all about getting kids involved in theatre both on stage and as audience members. And for less than the cost of a movie ticket!

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Spotlight Theatre Company
Covernton Hall Theatre, Strathmont Centre
Friday 12 November at 8pm

Review by Fran Edwards

Willy Russell writes good comedy. This is a two hander that relies heavily on the rapport between the actors. Thankfully Malcolm Coller and Hannah Wooller have that rapport. They support each other nicely and their timing is in step.

On a very well presented set, reminiscent of many English tutors rooms throughout the world, the play began strangely with a tableau of Rita and Frank as they are at the end. I don't know if this is in the script and if it is, I don't know why. Both actors exhibited a few opening night nerves at first, but these soon dissipated. Apart from minor technical hitches the rest of the night went well.

Coller's Frank is suitably crusty and jaded. He doesn't overplay the booze or the patronizing. The accent is integral to Rita and Wooller carries it off almost without a hitch. She also conveys the wonder and excitement of Rita in her first visit and contrasts nicely with the "know all" of the later scenes. The director, Jacqueline Kirkpatrick, makes good use of the space and allows her characters to move the action well, considering the restriction of such a set.

The most disappointing aspect of the night was the size of the audience. It was a wet and windy night and Strathmont Centre is not the easiest to find, but this production deserves a much larger audience. Make the trip, you will be rewarded with good theatre.

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St. Jude's Players
St Jude's Hall
Until November 13

Review by Andy Ahrens

St Jude's Players have excelled in their latest offering, 'Brilliant Lies', by Australia's premiere playwright David Williamson. Director Richard Lane has gone for a tight, disciplined staging and the cast have met his challenge in a gripping production.

'Brilliant Lies' tackles the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and Williamson has shown no fear in making strong statements about both men and women. Combine this with a lesbian, an alcoholic father, a born again Christian and a tarty socialite; you get a very entertaining night of theatre.

The cast on opening night were highly polished. It would be unfair to single people out. Narrah Luks, Richard Greig, Alicia Smith, Vicky Wray, Greg Janzow, Michael Papps and Brian Sexton all provided convincing performances in the spirit of ensemble.

The show would have benefited by a reduction in scene changes, but the work of the stage crew was up to the occasion. Without their efficiency, the play could have easily lost its pace.

Even with the omission of some vulgar language, deemed unsuitable for St Jude's audiences, 'Brilliant Lies' maintained its brutal honesty in depicting real characters twisted with conflict. The buzz after opening night was a sure sign that Lane and his cast have created a force to be reckoned with.

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Independent Theatre Company
Odeon Theatre, Norwood
Until November 20

Review by Rod Lewis

In a landscape setting reminiscent of Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, this light comedy passes through the tumultuous affections of impresario Chinchilla of the Ballet Russes in the early 1900s.

Robert David MacDonald's drawn out reflection on the life of Sergei Diaghilev (AKA Chinchilla) and his relationship with his dancers is exquisitely realised by director Rob Croser and an outstanding ensemble.

David Roach could not be better cast as the aging Russian whose foresight and passion led those he loved to triumph in the theatre, only to dismiss them just as quickly.

Amongst young, scantily clad waiters available for a price, Chinchilla's fixation with Nijinsky opens the play to the accompaniment of Debussy.

Paul Mawhinney has the physique of an Adonis but beauty is only skin deep and he struggles to present the light and shade of the dancer's angst-ridden existence.

As Chinchilla's muse, Pam O'Grady is a classy and expressive voice in his inner circle, while Luke Jacka's subtlety cuts like a knife playing secretary Fedya.

Dai Davison, Michael Baldwin, Tom Eastland, Allen Munn and Ilya Harpas are equally as good, and ably supported by the remaining cast.

The lighting design by Laraine Wheeler adds enormously to Croser's stylised direction, while the costumes by Giovina D'Angelo and hats by Sandra Davis are magnificent!

If the couture wasn't so much admired, I'd say hats off for such an outstanding production.

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Therry Dramatic Society
The Arts Theatre
Until 13 November 2004

Review by Hayley Horton

Protesters for a cause might be considered crack-pots by some, or passionate activists by others. This subtly witty play by William Douglas Home explores the concept of such protesters and the extent to which actions may be deemed reasonable.

Therry Dramatic Society and its talented production team, headed by Director Norman Caddick allows audiences into the lives of the Boothroyd family, where the matriarch, Lady Boothroyd deftly states that she will be committing suicide on Monday in protest of a new highway being built across her field.

This announcement is met with mixed reactions from her husband, son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter. How would we react to such an announcement, and would we take her seriously?

Joy Bishop is mischevious and straight-up as Lady Boothroyd, taking her audience along for the ride with a skilled ability to alternate between the heart-felt and the cheeky.

Well-coupled with Bishop is Martin Wright as her barmy, yet long suffering and understanding husband Sir William. Wright is absolutely hilarious in this role and often lifts the show when lines get fumbled or the pace slows. His nutty diatribes that are often repeated are hilarious and both Bishop and Wright often make a pair reminisent of the Odd Couple or Ma and Pa Kettle.

This pairing buoys along the supporting cast, who are varied in their performances. Gordon Poole as Robertson, the faithful servant is visually comedic although at times lacking the subtlty required for this form of comedy.

John Koch is suitably pompous as the politician son, Hubert and is contrasted by Joanne St Clair's over the top portrayal of his socialite wife, Maud. Victoria Morton, David Thring and David Lockwood also put in adept performances.

This play is fantastic for those who enjoy the sort of comedy that creeps up on you rather than slaps you in the face and will have you giggling for hours to come. As for the title… the appropriateness is suprisingly droll.

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Carl Rosa Company & International Concert Attractions
Her Majesty's Theatre

Review by Hayley Horton

The Gilbert and Sullivan Trilogy formula is well loved, steadfast and true. The expectations of a seasoned English cast (the birthplace of such performances) gracing our city with their experience and reputation were high.

HMS Pinafore follows the formula on a ship this time where star-crossed lovers of many kinds sing of love, twists of deception and general nonsense, with a big wedding to tie things up nicely.

Recent Gilbert & Sullivan productions in Adelaide have featured performers who are known by many, however none was more eagerly anticipated than that of Timothy West's appearance.

Just looking at his biography will announce to even the most ignorant audience member that this is a man who has had his fair share of accolades. Unfortunately audience members attending for this performance alone will be severely disappointed.

West's performance as the bumbling yet authoritative Sir Joseph Porter was uncomfortable to say the least with many a line lost or forgotten, singing without tone or pitch and quite often there was concern that he may falter completely to leave the otherwise attentive cast to pick up the pieces.

West's other role as director was equally lacking with quite uninspiring and often flat implementation from what would be expected to be a slick and quality production.

This said, the show is kept afloat (and saved with a great big metaphorical life preserver) by the outstanding performances of Steven Page as the hapless Captain Cocoran (bringing many, if not all the laughs) and Beverley Klein as the down-trodden Little Buttercup.

Also strong in the vocal department is David Curry, perfect as the love-struck Ralph Rackstraw (and with a fantastic voice that could melt any girl's heart) and Maeve Morris as the discerning Josephine.

The chorus of this production has plenty of energy and understands the frivolity of Gilbert & Sullivan, revelling in the non-sensical repetition of lines and trivial conundrums. Tighter diction and timing would enhance this performance to comprehension as well as musical enjoyment.

Overall, although an enjoyable night out for die-hard G&S fans, this production demonstrates the quality and competitiveness of the performers in our own back yard.

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Galleon Theatre Group
Marion Cultural Centre
Until 13 November

Review by Simon Slade

Eric Chappell's Natural Causes is a black farce about Walter Brice who contracts Exodus, professional suicide merchants, to help his wife Celia commit suicide, something she has been threatening to do for some time.

Vincent, the man from Exodus, almost administers poison to everyone but the intended victim, and Walter's favourite rubber plant suffers the consequences through the course of the play.

The talented Andrew Clark takes on the role of husband Walter and holds his character throughout the show. Carolyn Conroy, as his wife Celia, comes into her own in Act II, when she seems to find a solution for her depression. The other cast members cope less well with their roles and their lines. As Exodus representative Vincent, Jerry Zimmer is a little uneven with an accent that wavers too often. Sophie Yelland, as Angie, and Gene Prigent, as Withers, seem to suffer from a lack of direction in their roles and therefore fail to get some of the laughs that they should.

The direction fails to make the most of the comedy, and needs to focus more on pace and comic timing. As a result, some moments in the show which should bring the house down, come off as merely mildly amusing, and the whole thing seems to drag.

The stage set, designed by Bruce Mildren, is the book-lined study of Walter's house, with the progressively dying plant placed prominently upstage centre. This is well suited to the stage at the Marion Cultural Centre.

A few more performances should see the pace improve, but on opening night it was slow going.

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Burnside Players
The Promethean Theatre, Grote Street, Adelaide
Until November 13

Review by Stephanie Johnson

Burnside Players "The Woman in Black A Ghost Story" is something a little out of the ordinary.

It is an eerie ghost story told by two actors - Peter Davies and Brendan Clare - in a supernatural English setting.

The plot involves a man with a haunted past after he visits a decrepit and isolated mansion surrounded by marshes. The man is haunted by his ghostly memories and needs to tell his story.

Director Michael Pole has done an excellent job with this disturbing yarn, making the most of the actors and stage in the intimate Promethean Theatre.

Set designer Avylon Madigan suitably sets the scene without going over the top. The team of Tim Allan and Miriam Lyon has enhanced the setting and plot with their considerable lighting skills. Special accolades go to Brad Martin for spine tingling sound effects.

The two actors - Peter Davies and Brendan Clare - really shine in this production. Davies plays Arthur Kipps, a man with a sad and unnatural tale to tell. He skillfully dons several different caps as his tale unfolds.

Brendan Clare plays "the actor" who needs to convey the terror and grief of a man haunted by his past.

Both actors' skills are tested in this demanding production and they rise to the occasion.

A top class supernatural story needs to build suspense right from the beginning. The opening night production was a little slow to start but soon picked up pace.

It was captivating throughout the second half thanks to the skills of first-rate actors and a fine crew.

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International Concert Attractions
Dunstan Playhouse
Until 3 November

Review by Simon Slade

Prunella Scales is no stranger to the role of Queen Victoria. This particular show was written at her request, and she has also performed the role for television and radio in both dramatic and documentary offerings.

Those of you more familiar with her work as Sybil Fawlty would already appreciate her considerable comic talent, but she is an actor of great emotional range as well, and this is evident in this production. She brings the role to life as takes us on a journey through Victoria's life.

The show is based on the journals and letters of Queen Victoria herself, and provides an insight into the character of England's longest reigning monarch. Combined with musical selections performed by Richard Burnett on piano, Ian Partridge, the tenor, a mood is created for the show that evokes the time and the manners of the period. Both Burnett and Partridge are excellent.

Of course, the time and manners of the period were slower and more formal than those of today, and this means that the show follows suit, being quite slow paced.

At the risk of developing a reputation as a sound Nazi, here was yet another show where the problems with radio microphones let down the cast. Rather than use a microphone in the hairline, Ms Scales had been provided with a microphone attached to the collar of her dress. In Act I, this meant that whenever she delivered lines to her right, the microphone was not picking them up properly. In Act II, where she was wearing a choker, this meant we were treated to rustling noises whenever she moved her head!

Audiences deserve better, particularly in what is essentially a one-woman spoken word show.

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Brink Productions & Budgie Lung
Queen's Theatre
Until October 31

Review by Simon Slade

Playwright Sarah Kane suffered from a mental illness, and wrote only five plays. 4.48 Psychosis was the last play she wrote, finishing it in January 1999. A month later, she was in hospital following a suicide attempt, when she hanged herself with her shoelaces. She never saw this play staged.

David Greig writes in his introduction to her collected plays that 4.48 Psychosis is "perhaps uniquely painful in that it appears to have been written in the almost certain knowledge that it would be performed posthumously". It is one of the bravest and most distressing plays I have ever seen. No characters are named, and even their number is unspecified. It could be a journey through one person's mind, or an interview between a doctor and his patient.

Textually heavy and dramatically intense, the play takes us inside the mind. The audience surrounds the square of sand in which the actors perform. A grid of lights points straight down on them. From jets set just under the lights, water streams down onto the cast throughout the entire show. This is a far more effective way of staging this show than the clinical approach favoured by some other directors.

Rather than playing particular characters, the cast performs twenty-four different scenes, opening a window to the thoughts and feelings of a psychotic mind. They play scenes in which three actors represent two characters, and all four actors represent the one character.

The four actors, Cameron Goodall, Lizzy Falkland, Ksenja Logos, and Michaela Cantwell, give intense performances and each brings something different to the expressions of madness.

Director, Geordie Brookman, has drawn on his experience in directing film and television, as actors play to each other or across each other in a setting that is completely surrounded by the audience.

Behind all of this is a soundscape and score designed by Mark Harding, which combines sound effects and electronic and acoustic instruments.

The Queen's Theatre, with its expanse of decay is the ideal setting for this show.

This is raw and challenging theatre - to be thought about and talked about.

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The Stirling Players
Stirling Community Theatre

Review By Stephanie Johnson

Sometimes an actor shines in a play or a film, giving such an outstanding performance that the rest of the production almost becomes a supporting act.

This is the case in the Stirling Players' "Hobson Choice" when Tim Williams takes to the stage as the working class Lancashire boot maker William Mossop.

Williams' comic characterization of the humble boot maker and his rise through the classes is the highlight of an enjoyable evening. He is simultaneously funny, pathetic and engaging, always the focus of attention when on stage. He received an ovation in the middle of the production on opening night.

This is not to detract from excellent performances from other actors, most notably John Murray as Henry Hobson, Mandy Quinn as Maggie Hobson and Fred Guilhaus as Dr McFarlane.

Murray gives a fine performance as the proprietor of Hobson's boot shop and father of three "uppish" girls, all of marrying age. Hobson is a chauvinist tyrant of Victorian proportions and yet Murray makes him seem like a lovable rogue as he tries to dominate his three daughters.

He is a great foil to Mandy Quinn's indomitable Maggie, the eldest Hobson daughter. Quinn's Maggie adroitly takes over control from a tyrannical father and subsequently orchestrates her own and her sister's lives. She is central to the plot and carries a heavy workload. Therefore she can perhaps be forgiven for dropping some of her lines on opening night.

Fred Guilhaus enters the story in the last act, but he makes an impact as the feisty Scottish doctor and Peter Smith is a strong supporting role as Tubby Wadlow.

This is a Victorian Lancashire comedy, written by Harold Brighouse in 1914 and yet its entertainment values have spanned the decades.

Director Patty Atherton's choice of play is a welcome one. The set and the costumes are fitting replicas of Victorian England, ably supporting the colourful and likable characters.

The only shortcomings are the inconsistencies in the Lancashire accents and the hefty scene change before the last act.

Otherwise this is a Lancashire comedy that will warm your hearts.

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XSpace, Adelaide Centre for the Arts
Until October 30

Review by Nikki Gaertner

Expectations would be that after spending three years of studying dramatic arts, the offering of the graduating class at the Adelaide Centre for the Arts would be something special. Disappointingly, this isn't the case with The Siren's Kiss.

The script (written by Queensland playwright, Sven Swenson), can be likened to movies such as Dick Tracy and Roger Rabbit, with a gangster-type feel interlaced with a who-dunnit. The story centres around detective Julius Marlowe (Sean-Michael Kerins) investigating one, two and then three murders. In his travels he meets several clichéd characters, such as gossip columnist Trixie Traduce (Lori Farmer), rich and snobby Flavia Flood (Sarah Hunt), man-obsessed and squeaky voiced Rita Roots (Ptiika Owen-Shaw) and the sexy "Jessica Rabbit"-like Tellulah Tempest (Ebony Sciberras).

The show is a musical and features a large number of songs sung by the majority of key players in the cast. However, the music isn't particularly catchy, and this combined with the fact that the majority of singers had less than remarkable voices and seemed to tense up every time they needed to sing, resulted in the numbers not making as much of an impression as they could have. The one number that did show some flair was characterised rather than sung by Owen-Shaw.

The set had no area for the performers to "hide" for their costume changes and to generally wait for their next stage cue. Performers changing and sitting around in full view of the audience is a distraction at best. Further, it is a general rule of theatre that performers should not emerge, buy refreshments and mingle during intermission as it ruins the illusion and continuity of the show.

On the other hand, the acting was quite good, with Kerins nailing the gangster accent of Marlowe perfectly, and Sciberras very much the sexy love interest. Owen-Shaw also gained a lot of laughs with her ditzy character of Rita Roots.

The script tended towards the humorous edge with many a tongue in cheek line, and all of these were delivered very well.

In the end, considering the acting talent seemed high, it seems that a musical was an odd choice for this final delivery by the ARTS students.

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The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of South Australia
Arts Theatre
Until October 30

Review by Nikki Gaertner

Clean cut and polished are two words to describe the Gilbert & Sullivan Society's latest rendition of one of the most famous G&S shows - Pirates of Penzance. Despite probably only having two days of rehearsals at the theatre, the cast and crew delivered the show almost without a hitch on Tuesday night.

Entry into the theatre was somewhat confusing with the stage being cluttered and cast and crew seemingly still constructing the set. But all was explained with the program outlining the director's chosen 'road-show' spin and the cast and crew assembling another impressive G&S set before the eyes of the audience to the sound of the overture music.

The Pirates' storyline is typical of this genre - lower class boy meets upper class girl, sprinkled with some humorous and some operatic songs.

Michael Denholm and Heather Brooks play the love struck pair of Frederic and Mabel in this instance. Denholm has been well cast in this role and delivers both his dialogue and songs with a pleasant nature. Opposite him, Brooks is the perfect operatic female lead with a voice that could easily leap tall buildings - and then some!

Unfortunately the roles of The Pirate King (John Greene) and Sergeant of Police (David Rapkin) were a little undersold in this rendition and didn't make as much of an impression as they could have. But there were some memorable moments from the female cast, with some hammed up performances from Major-General Stanley's daughters (Alexandra Gard, Emma Häll, Alexandra Stubberfield, Gemma Gibson, Annie Slade, Lucy Doyle and Melissa Bergland).

The show was certainly stolen by Dennis Olsen as the Major-General himself, who delighted the crowd with his comic timing and facial expressions, not to mention a perfect delivery of the tongue twisting "I am the model of a modern Major-General".

Musically speaking, the orchestra sounded fantastic. It was a pity though, that more choreography wasn't worked into the show. A number such as "With cat-like tread" should have been a stand-out, but was sadly underdone with only some movement and sword showing, rather than all out choreography.

But Pirates certainly pleases, and is one of this season's better offerings in musical theatre.

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Northern Light Theatre Company
Shedley Theatre
To November 6

Review by Simon Slade

Copacabana premiered in London in 1994, but its plot will be familiar to anyone who loves the musicals of the 1940s and 1950s. A smalltown girl comes to the big city with her sights set on being a star. Rejected at auditions, she is helped by a struggling songwriter to become a showgirl at the famous Copacabana nightclub. And so begins the whirlwind story of stardom, abduction and rescue that is at the heart of this show.

Colour and movement keep this show moving. Choreographer Kerreanne Sarti has managed to create routines that dazzle, whilst taking into account the varying talents of the cast. The chorus works very hard to achieve a polished result. The costuming is astounding in its variety.

On opening night, we were treated to a fire alarm about five minutes before the curtain was due to go up! I'm not sure if this affected the cast, but it did seem that a couple of numbers in Act I, although well executed, lacked a little of the punch that they needed.

Kerri Hutton, as Lola, has an absolute ball in this show, combining her singing, dancing and acting talents very well. So too Rodney Hutton, in the dual roles as Tony and Stephen, although he was plagued by a problem with his microphone in Act I, largely solved by Act II. There were other glitches such as microphones left on backstage.

The more that modern musicals tend towards amplified sound, and therefore microphones, the more there is a need for not just a sound technician, but a microphone technician as well. The actual sound mix was fine. I was a little surprised that more lighting effects were not used in some of the showgirls' numbers, because when they were, they were done quite well.

Tighter set changes and snappier lighting cues would help the pace too.

Ian Rigney delights with his comic work as Sam, nicely teamed with Sue Pole as Gladys. Ben Kempster, as Rico, and Rachel Spargo, as Conchita, also work well together.

The plot may be thin, but the audience left humming!

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Her Majesty's Theatre

Review by Andy Ahrens

It isn't the norm for country music and the theatre stage to cross paths, but the Topp Twins are as theatrically entertaining as any stage performance has to offer.

Beginning in the underground music scene in Auckland over twenty years ago, the twins of Jools and Lynda Topp have emerged as ambassadors for country music. You can only love them. Their performance is not only a feast of country music, but also a complete stage show with bells and whistles.

It's this sideshow, and all the antics that come with it, that make the Top Twins who they are. Costumed up, they were irresistible and hilarious. This daring venture combining country music and comedy is what makes the genre accessible to those not normally tuned into the country music scene. They don't just entertain the audience; they involve them, displaying an impeccable knack for good old-fashioned humour. There are more humourous skits and gags than music itself, but why worry? They had the audience in stitches in a highly polished performance that any stand-up comedian would envy.

After an evening of laughs, the Twins emerged for their final bracket without the costumes and antics, showing they are just as capable as stand alone country performers. Their vocals held a traditional country feel including some impressive yodelling. A highlight was their latest original work which closed the evening.

There was a noticeable absence of youth among the appreciative audience. It's a pity. With our youth hoodwinked into believing that 'Australian Idol' contestants are good performers and radio DJ's are funny - oh, what they could learn from a couple of no-fuss country singers from New Zealand.

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Daw Park Players Incorporated
Repatriation Hospital, Daw Park

Review by Stephanie Johnson

Daw Park Players provide an old-fashioned night of farcical fun with "Pardon Me, Prime Minister". Mayhem and mix-ups, doors opening and closing, women running around in underwear and mistaken identities are all part of the fun.

First produced in the 1970s "Pardon Me, Prime Minister" is a political farce written by Edward Taylor and John Graham. It is somewhat dated but still has some relevant political jibes.

Roger Green does a credible job as Prime Minister George Venables who is about to pass a very tough budget guaranteed to stamp out all immorality. Philip Lineton is his comrade in arms as the chancellor Hector Cramond. Together their insistence on taking the high moral ground sets the stage for all sorts of immoral shenanigans.

Making the most of their part in the mayhem are Mollie Birch as the Prime Minister's wife, Sybil Venables and Peter Hoult as Rodney Campbell.

Nikki Francis also sparks up the stage in her transition from drab mouse secretary to sex siren in the role of Miss Frobisher.

Director Glen Christie has made the most of this dated farce. As one patron commented in the interval "this group doesn't try to be anything more than it is". It is a night of old-fashioned fun in a large hall with free tea and biscuits in the interval and a supper following. If this is your cup of tea then be prepared for old-fashion fun. If you are a modern day feminist you would do best to avoid this one.

Reviewers note: The Daw Park Players obviously have a regular crowd who know their way through the twisting hospital corridors. Some signs pointing the way would help wayward newcomers, particularly late at night after the show.

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State Theatre Company
The Space
Until November 6

Review by Stephanie Johnson

"Boston Marriage" is drawing room humour at its best with the cut and thrust of riposte reminiscent of the wit of Oscar Wilde.

David Mamet's script is intellectual genius and has been utilized to maximum benefit by director Catherine Fitzgerald.

The play is staged in a drawing room inhabited by "two women of fashion" in the late Victorian period. A "Boston Marriage" is a term that describes two women living together, a popular arrangement in Victorian Boston.

Anna, played by Victoria Longley, has become mistress to a rich man. Her lover appeals to her because of his ability to supply her with jewels and a regular income. She plans to feather her nest for her true love Clare (Rachel Szalay), but Clare is infatuated with a younger woman. A drama of tangled emotions evolves with a sassy maid (Amber McMahon) popping in and out.

Longley is brilliant as the vulnerable and manipulative Anna and Szalay shines as her lover insensitive in her obsession with a younger woman. However, Amber McMahon as the cheeky maid is the true star of this production. Her comic timing is perfect as she ekes out the humour of her role and is at times hilarious in her antics. She makes the most of a set that brilliantly supports her humorous role.

The pace of this drama is fast and furious with words cleverly bandied about. All three actors have excellent timing and make the most of the spoken word, but their use of facial expression to convey meaning is also skillful and often hilarious. The innuendoes and wit are constant from beginning to end. Not much is held sacred in this sophisticated comedy. It's definitely one to be savoured.

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Adelaide University Theatre Guild
Little Theatre

Review by Theresa Dolman

"Joe Egg", by Peter Nichols, is a compassionate and thought-provoking look at how schoolteacher Bri (David Adams) and his wife Sheila (Ann Weaver) cope with being the parents of a severely disabled daughter, Joe.

During the play, Bri and Sheila frequently step out of the action to confide with the audience, and to "act out" flashbacks to explain to the audience how they got into their current situation (the complications at the birth, Joe's, subsequent fits, the inability of the doctors to diagnose the problems with Joe, and the inability of the clergy to explain why it had happened).

Adams gives a strong portrayal of the increasingly manic Bri, and is balanced nicely by Weaver as the more pragmatic Sheila.

Act I finishes with Sheila heading off to her drama group, leaving Bri to put Joe to bed and amuse himself with his art. In Act II, Sheila returns with her socialist friend Freddy (Justin Nicholas) and his socialite wife Pam (Maxine Harding). Freddy and Pam have three perfectly normal children. They have never met Joe, but it is obvious to Freddy what she is doing to Bri and Sheila. With the best intentions, Freddy suggests that Joe be put in a home so that Bri and Sheila can get on with their lives. Nicholas suited the role of the well-meaning but clueless Freddy, and Harding was wonderful as the snobbish Pam. (In her perfectly ghastly outfit, against the 1960's psychedelic set, she reminded me of Ruth Bussy from "Laugh-In".)

The final character we meet is Bri's mother, Grace, played wonderfully by Lesley Reed. Grace has knitted yet another cardigan for Joe, and has brought it around for her grand daughter. She seems to be the only person that feels any sorrow for Joe.

Director Rosemary Nursey-Bray kept the pace flowing in this very funny but heart-wrenching production. The set, designed by Tiffany Tetlow, made good use of the wonderful working space of the Little Theatre.. The colour scheme again brought to mind a set from "Laugh-In", giving a bizarre view of this otherwise serious subject.

All in all, a good production worthy of a larger audience than turned up opening night.

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Unseen Theatre Company
Bakehouse Theatre

Review by Andy Ahrens

Unseen Theatre Company, who specialises in Terry Pratchett, was fortunate enough to be given the script for this play prior to being published. Subsequently, what an opportunity to see an Australian premiere from Pratchett, who Director Pamela Munt says is the world's best selling author alive today.

Love them or hate them, Pratchett plays have a lot going for them and Night Watch is no exception. Night watch is a fun explosive play, full of wit. The clever script along with Munt's direction makes the play fast paced and easy to follow. Without being exceptional, Unseen has given the play sound beginnings and any cult-following Pratchett fan shouldn't be disappointed.

The star of the show without doubt was Steven Parker playing the leading role of Commander Samuel Vimes. With his no-nonsense approach to the role, masterful timing and excellent voice control, Parker glided through the mishaps and adventures of Commander Vimes. I think he's a natural. He made the very demanding role look easy and he could have a big future on stage ahead of him. Parker was supported by an ensemble of energetic players who all showed the ability to capture an audience. Some players were weaker than others, but Unseen holds no regrets in nurturing and providing experience for their young actors.

This style of theatre is what world renowned director Peter Brook calls 'rough' theatre. It's dingy, it's raw, the floor creaks but it encompasses all the magic that any theatrical production has to offer. We see the theatre itself transformed into the set, and with minimal furniture you are naturally drawn into the imagination of the world. A good example was a box, a chair and a flag used to represent a barricade - Les Misérables eat your heart out! Why this theatre works so well is, as Unseen have done, given it all they've got with no punches spared. And you have to admire that.

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Matt Byrne Media
Mayfair Theatre
Until October 30

Review by Simon Slade

Having followed the album, film, and musical versions over the years, but not having seen the musical produced, I was eager to take my place at the South Australian premiere of Tommy.

Rarely have I seen such a fine cast and orchestra let down so badly by technical work of the lowest standard. Keystoned and poorly aimed video projection (which at one stage showed a view of the software running the show), follow-spots that wander the stage in search of their target, and lighting cues that seem to run early or late most of the time were just the beginning. The lights are both poorly aimed and focussed - or the director has not explained the blocking to the designer.

And all of that is before we even start on the sound! Radio microphones that cut in and out at random, mics left on backstage, howling feedback, and a mix that makes some of the finest singers in Adelaide sound like they are in a 1950's radio at the bottom of a well. This meant that most of the audience thought that the vocal effects used in the court scene were yet another error!

As a seasoned musical theatre performer said to me outside the theatre, "I feel sorry for the cast, they are giving their all"

Ben Schultz stands out as Tommy. He is in fine voice and brings more innocence than anger to the role, in keeping with the revised plot of this 1993 version. This also suits him physically and the choice of his costuming reflects that. Ria Loof as the Acid Queen has real energy and edge, and Sam Francis and Michael Williams as Tommy's parents are both in fine voice. They also have a great understanding of the subtleties of their roles.

The performers bring a power and dynamic edge that is so important to this show. Zac Isemonger and Callum Pyper also deserve a special mention for their work as Tommy aged 4 and 10 respectively.

Mike Pitmans band handles the score well, showing a polished and professional sound.

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Urban Myth Theatre of Youth
Odeon Theatre
To October 23

Review by Simon Slade

This show has developed from a project that Urban Myth Theatre of Youth has been developing for the past eighteen months or so. Often, these processes are a recipe for disaster - everyone is so close to the project that the big picture is overlooked.

Happily that is not the case here! Motion Sickness is a finely crafted ensemble piece.

The nine characters are well developed and portrayed. Gabriel Partington is a young man with a bright future in theatre. He gives a touching and tender performance as Al, the young man from a seemingly privileged background who is living on the street. As his radio moves between stations we hear a variety of news along with adverts for a lifestyle that those on the street can never achieve. Ry Johnstone, Sarah Dunn, and Alice Branch interact well as three sisters supporting each other. Brad Williams gives Sean, the budding journalist, a raw edge, teamed well with Lauren Beaty as his sister, Sam. Tom Christopherson, as their agoraphobic brother, Anthony, has one of the more difficult roles and carries it off well. Kate Ward, as Beth, the career driven doctor, is convincing in the conflict with her partner, Matthew, played brilliantly by Alex Rafalowicz.

As the show develops, we find that the characters have connections with each other that were not immediately apparent. These connections are revealed gradually and sometimes unexpectedly, in a way that shows the true talent of Michael Hill as a writer.

Heather Frahn has created music for the show that in places is like a motion picture soundtrack, combining underscoring and songs. The simple plywood set increases the audience's concentration on performance, and the lighting is extremely effective.

The action snaps from one scene to another, and the director Rachel Paterson has created some fine moments. The juxtaposing of street kid Al, reading a book by the light of a torch, with Matthew tapping away on a laptop is just one example of that.

Do not see this show because it has a worthy message and develops young talent - see it because it is damn good!

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The Metropolitan Musical Theatre Co of SA Inc
Arts Theatre
Until October 23

Review By Stephanie Johnson

The Metropolitan Musical Theatre Company's "The Sound of Music" is a delightful and conservative rendition of a much-loved musical.

Superb singing, time-honored costumes and scenes and excellent acting all create a wonderful show for fans of this well-known musical.

The "Sound of Music" is one of the world's best-loved musicals. Most would recall the 1965 film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, but the original stage play appeared on the Broadway stage in 1959.

There are few surprises in this version. It is a production for traditionalists.

The direction, settings and costumes, by set designer, costume coordinator and director Leonie Osborn, are all clearly reminiscent of the film.

The entire cast tunefully sings the well-known songs such as "The Lonely Goatherd", "Do-Re-Mi", "So Long, Farewell" and other favourites.

The children are all impressive. Madeleine Otto as the somewhat shy and insightful Brigitta and Simon Gale as Kurt stand out, but only just. Leanne Marsland as Liesl (hardly a child), John Francis as Friedrich, Emily Morris as Louisa, Nadia Porter as Marta and Tahlia Fantone as Gretl are all delightful in their acting, dancing and singing roles.

Mark De Laide draws many a laugh as the rather foppish Max Detweiler and Lorraine Armstrong follows in his footsteps making the most of her role as the housekeeper Frau Schmidt.

Tricia Spence is an endearing Maria, but she seems too old for the role. It is a testament to her skills that she is convincing, more so depicting the motherly and wise qualities of Maria rather than the exuberant youthfulness.

The linchpin to this production's array of characters is Greg Hart as Captain Georg Von Trapp. Hart strikes just the right chord eliciting understanding for the strict Captain, who is gradually changed through his love and respect for his children's governess.

His finale of "Edelweiss" is one of the many highlights of the evening.

This production does have flaws - such as a lack of continuity with Austrian accents - but it seems churlish to pick out the flaws in such an enjoyable recreation of "The Sound of Music".

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Golden Grove Arts Centre

Review by Simon Slade

The word "Opera" often evokes images of huge sets, lavish costumes and a full orchestra ready for when the fat lady sings - and of course it is all in Italian.

Well, nothing could be further from the truth as this production by OzOpera has a cast of 12, an orchestra of 13, a set where the only moving part is a rotating wall - and it is sung in English.

It is done like this because OzOpera has toured this show to some of the remotest places in Australia - in Borden, WA (population 50) they played to 600 people in a corrugated iron hayshed! In a coup for the Golden Grove Arts Centre, this was their only stop in South Australia, after having toured the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

La Bohème is stripped back to the essentials, and it works well. Inventive use of props keeps much of the essential business going in Act I, and the limited use of the changes in scene allows us to concentrate on the performances rather than spectacle.

Some of the more delicate intricacies of character seem to be lost and there were some points where the singing was difficult to hear over the orchestra, but generally this production worked very well. Particularly impressive were Francesco Fabris (Marcello) and Sharon Prero (Musetta). Both seemed to capture a raw essence that suited this production, and would have been even more apparent in some of the more rustic venues that the show has been to.

Some of the audience were opera lovers, others virgins, but they all enjoyed this production immensely.

And not a fat lady to be seen!

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Opus Performing Arts
Noarlunga College Theatre

Review by Theresa Dolman

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" examines life in a mental asylum in the late 1950s. The clinical routine is disrupted by the arrival of R.P. McMurphy (Adam Morgan), who has been transferred to the asylum from jail. The headstrong, charismatic McMurphy brings life, excitement and even hope to the ward. For McMurphy, the asylum seems like an easier option than jail. But is it?

Dale Wasserman's script has plenty of potential, but this production falls flat. The cast are obviously talented and give some excellent performances and characterisations, but the show lacks pace.

The production also falls short in depicting the highs and lows of life on the ward. Nurse Ratched (Dael McCarthy) is calm and in control throughout, but never angry or icy. The stuttering Billy Bibbit (Jarrod Chave) had you wanting to give him a hug and tell him everything was going to be alright, though when he confronts Nurse Ratched for the first time in his life, there is not enough contrast between his new-found courage and his sudden descent back into depression when Nurse Ratched threatens to tell his mother. Some of the accents are inconsistent, and are really unnecessary.

The angular, cartoon-stye set did a good job depicting the stark but mis-shapen world of the asylum. The lighting and live music were also good. But the use of video flashbacks of children in a school yard singing the nursery rhyme "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", though well done, did nothing to enhance the production.

Overall, it's a wonderful script performed by some talented actors, but the production is let down by the slow pace.

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Porkchop Productions
Dunstan Playhouse

Review by Fran Edwards

Funny, touching, confronting, topical, Last Cab to Darwin is all this with a touch of the absurd thrown in. Reg Cribbs has captured the quintessential Australian soul in this play about a man's journey from Broken Hill to Darwin and back.

It begins at the end with a surprise appearance by the central character, Max, played with understated dignity by Barry Otto, and seamlessly meanders from place to place and character to character. All the cast except Barry play a multitude of roles (including several dogs). They change hats, expressions and accents without the performance skipping a beat. Whilst some characters endear themselves, such as Max's neighbour Polly (played by Justine Saunders), some make you cringe, for example the outback customer service nightmare played by Jacki Weaver, but they all remind you of someone.

They should remind you of someone as all the characters are based on real people and are expertly presented by this sterling cast. Andrew McDonnell and Michael Tahuine give good performances, I especially like the three legged dog! Great support is also provided by Kirsty Hillhouse, Alan Dukes and Sean Taylor as a selection of backpackers, politicians and locals.

Jeremy Sim's direction is exceptional and this production flows like a well-oiled machine. If there is a grumble, it would be that the second act is a little long, especially on the increasingly uncomfortable seats of the Dunstan Playhouse. That aside, this production made me laugh, it made me think, and it made me cry. What more could you ask for?

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Patch Theatre Company
Odeon Theatre, Norwood
Until October 9

Review By Stephanie Johnson

"Sharon, Keep Ya Hair On" is not new fare for Patch Theatre Company. The modern, funky trilogy of story poems has been brought to life on Adelaide stages before.

Now there is a return season - a new opportunity for Adelaide audiences to enjoy this feast of story telling.

These stories, by Gillian Rubenstein and David Mackintosh, manage to delight both adult and child audiences.

Patch's energetic team begins the hour-long program with the title story "Sharon, Keep Ya Hair on". Next comes "Hooray for Kafe Karaoke!" and "Prue Theroux the Cool Librarian."

All three stories are fast-paced and funky. These are modern stories for modern children, emphasised by a contemporary set design, by Gaelle Mellis and Geoff Cobham, complete with an animated big screen backdrop.

Music, singing, digital photography, monkey business and audience participation are all thrown into the entertaining mix.

The rhyme and meter of some of the stories lend themselves well to music, particularly to the rap beat in "Prue Theroux". Plenty of audience participation requires that some children and adults need to be comfortable in sharing the limelight with the talented actors.

Astrid Pill, Libby O'Donovan and Catherine Oates have the necessary energy and animation to keep the child audience enthralled. Their talents as musicians and singers are considerable.

Catherine Oates is particularly impressive as the stern, loveable and irreplaceable librarian Prue Theroux.

Parents, keep ya hair on. Here is a chance to enjoy an hour with your children at the theatre!

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Chopt Logic Theatre Co
Grey Floor Theatre, Saltram Estate, Angaston

Review by Simon Slade

French playwright Jean Genet was keen to observe and study the struggle of the underclass against its oppressors. The Maids is the first play that Genet wrote, and it centres on that struggle. The play is now a literary classic.

The Maids is the tale of two sisters, envious maids to the wealthy, self-centred and imperious Madame. In her absence they plunder her coveted wardrobe and act out the rituals of dominance and submission.

This production's strength is the clarity with which it charts the maids' shifting interactions as they slip between pretending games and brutal reality in David Rudkin's highly stylised translation. It also returns to the original all-female casting, avoiding the common trap of casting men and risking not only poorly executed camp but also a blurring of the play's preoccupation with power.

Director James Winter has also avoided making the production as sexual or violent as others have done, and this works very well, allowing Tina Mitchell, as Solange, and Tahli Corin, as Claire, to project more intense characters to the audience. As each drifts back and forth between sanity and insanity, we wonder where they will go from here. Both manage to impress with their emotional range.

Madame, played beautifully by Carmel Johnson, returns to the house wailing with self pity over her husband's imprisonment and vowing to wear more beautiful gowns in tribute to him.

This was a difficult venue to work in, however, particularly when it came to lighting. With minimal equipment and facilities, actors were sometimes not finding their light. In a fully equipped theatre it would be easier! The set design worked well, with the use of white curtains upstage and a selection of furniture to create Madame's room.

This show shatters illusions about love, hate and humanity. Cruelty, sexual jealousy, lies and self-hatred are evident in nearly every line. The sisters' desperation, horror and desire twist their lives into a tortured spiral toward freedom at any cost, paid for in guilt and degradation.

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Marie Clark Musical Theatre
The Arts Theatre
Until October 9, 2004

Review by Wendy Mildren

Geoff Brittain's direction of the well known and loved musical offering, Man of La Mancha showed imagination and ingenuity, however, the impact of the show was let down by the quality of the singing and the orchestra.

The set was imaginative and sufficiently gloomy to set the prison scene, however, the lighting ensured that the scene remained gloomy, and the sound effects, whilst effective, were over-loud.

Having said that, the quality of the acting was good, and the costuming was first class. Allison Bourke as Aldonza played her part with great verve and intensity and performed her difficult songs well.

Ian Brown as Don Quixote looked and acted the part but unfortunately his voice was not up to the demanding role. Brad Hill as the Padre/Paco produced quite a pleasant voice, and Katrina Packer (Antonia) and Anne Pattison (Housekeeper) blended beautifully to render "I'm only thinking of him".

Bill Ramsay (Sancho) acted well, but didn't have a singing voice. Njal Venning played the dual role of Anseimo and the barber and had one of the best voices in the production, but unfortunately only had the opportunity to sing one verse of the Barber's song.

The production had some highlights, but overall was disappointing.

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MS Society
Her Majesty's Theatre

Review by Fran Edwards

There is no doubt that this is a good production of a great musical, despite a few glitches on opening night. Shane Davidson should know this production very well by now so anything less would be disappointing. The design was evocative and the simple sets worked well. The lighting was effective and the choreography uncluttered and well executed. All the aspects came together to make a very satisfying production.

Normie Rowe made a wonderful return to the role of Jean Valjean and, while his voice may have been a little tentative in places, his experience and talent showed through in his performance. It was obvious that he was not as well rehearsed as the rest of the cast, but there is no doubt that he coped very well with opening night mishaps.

Rowe was more than adequately supported by an excellent cast who gave their all and at times were let down by technical mishaps. The worst example of these being the unbalanced sound. Some performers were drowned out in parts by the very good but very loud orchestra. "Lovely Ladies" looked just right, and the song has great lyrics but they couldn't be heard. I'm sure it can be fixed, but why not before opening night?

There were some great highs that the gremlins couldn't spoil. Michelle Pearson brought tears to the eyes with her portrayal of Eponine. Jonathon Webb and Catherine Cambell were disgustingly wonderful as the Thenardiers. Joshua Penley and Jessica Dean made delightful lovebirds as Marius and Cosette. Lucy Carey made a lovely job of Little Cosette's song and Gavroche (Will Traeger) was cheekily wonderful.

Matthew Randell gave a chilling performance as Javert, and I could go on to name more if space permitted, but it was the chorus who stole the show with their enthusiasm and passion.

Mr Rowe was the headliner and his performance was great, but he was supported by a wonderful cast to deliver a worthwhile performance of a show that never seems to fade.

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Tea Tree Players Inc
Tea Tree Players Theatre
Until October 2

Review by Simon Slade

Gerald has decided to take a break from running his business and has booked in to a health farm to "take the treatment." Looking forward to some peace and relaxation, he is somewhat surprised to see his secretary in the swimming pool. He is even more surprised at what his secretary reveals to him, and the fun and games begin.

The casting is good, and under the experienced direction of Brian Godfrey there are some hilarious moments. Some lines needed to be tighter, particularly towards the end of Act I when there is a very difficult scene in which two couples play separate scenes at once on different parts of the stage.

Gary Brownlie, as Gerald, is well suited to the role. Here is a man who is not quite sure what is going on around him, but very sure that it should not be, and he captures that confusion well. Cheryl Douglas, as Linda, combines innocence and cunning very well. Jonathon Neary, as Linda's boyfriend Rodney, will probably never live down that dressing gown or that suit! His wry smile and the glint in his eye when he looks at Linda, really make his character.

Chris Galipo, as Marion, is enormous fun, particularly in the scenes where she has her sights set on Rodney. Gabbie Brown, as Sandra, never fails to make her intentions clear, and Mike Phillips, as Potter, was the harried worried moral manager to a tee. He had some difficult dialogue that he delivered perfectly, although he had a little trouble early on with some simpler lines. This will probably disappear during the run.

A great set, where the audience is in the swimming pool - right down to the tiles on the front of the stage. The stage itself is divided into a couple of areas and one of those is used as different rooms. All done without needing a blackout - now that is good set design.

Ignore the "theatre snobs" who look down their noses at farce - have a laugh instead.

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Hills Musical Company
Stirling Community Theatre
Until October 9

Review by Simon Slade

Follow the lives of eight students at a tap dancing school as they learn about themselves and each other. Anyone who has been part of a group brought together by a common interest and working towards a common goal will recognise the dynamics in this play.

Gradually, we get to know the characters. Mavis, the dance teacher (Shelley Crooks) who has a past, but also a secret in her future. Lynne (Jasmine Bates) the nurse who bites her nails but begins to show us why the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Dorothy (Bec Vallen) with her allergies and her worries about her bicycle and swans. Maxine (Di Mason) the ex-Mousketeer with more front than Myers - or has she? Andy (Reagan Brown) - nervous but well-meaning, she spends so much time looking after others that she forgets her own emotional needs. Geoffrey (Max Rayner) - the only man in the class. Sylvia (Georgia Dodd) and Rose (Jenny Bowen) both rough but kind hearted.

Highlights in the cast include Barry Hill as the temperamental pianist with the acid tongue, and Robyn Woolvet, as the new arrival, Vera. Seemingly well bred, she is preoccupied with cleaning everything including the toilets, and never misses the opportunity to deliver a backhanded compliment to her classmates. Woolvet gets the chance to show off her considerable comic talent, along with a dazzling array of dancewear.

The scenes in Act I take place at monthly intervals, with the pupils improving at varying rates, and learning more about one another. Then comes a big announcement from Mavis adding to the stress levels for all.

The show leaves many questions unanswered or only half answered, but that is the script rather than any criticism of this production.

Linda Lawson directs and choreographs the show. Some more attention needs to be paid to some of the very delicate timing and delivery of certain lines to obtain the maximum dramatic or comic impact. However, the choreography convinces us that the performers cannot dance - a difficult thing to achieve.

When is a box set not a box set? See this show and find out!

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Blackwood Players Inc
Tower Arts Centre
Until October 9

Review by Stephanie Johnson

Starting out after a divorce or the death of a spouse is a difficult journey fraught with an excess of emotional and practical challenges.

'Take A Chance on Me' has tackled this difficult journey as six people of varying ages start again after the end of their marriages. The first half is heavy going as the six main characters describe their misery and loneliness. The second half lifts with much humour and more of the joy of discovery.

The play relies heavily on a revue style, requiring scores of scene changes and a quick pace. Introduction agencies, personal advertisements, internet chatrooms, Thai brides and Dinner For Six provide plenty of grist for the mill.

Unfortunately the heavy-handed set changes slow down the pace of the play to the point of being cumbersome. A simple set that requires few scene changes would greatly enhance the production.

Despite these setbacks, all six actors have ably captured the pain and the courage of their characters.

Martin Strange encapsulates the gentle nature of widower Dan, who is bewildered without the company and support of his dependable wife.

Gay Lewis is delightful as the whimsical Lorraine. One finds it difficult to imagine that this loveable and dotty character was once married to a career army officer.

Janet Fletcher maintains a fine balance portraying the weak and whimpering schoolteacher Rebecca in an affectionate light.

Damien White is painfully real as the insensitive and womanising Brian and Stephen Aitchison elicits sympathy as the "dull and boring" Tim.

Bronwyn Ruciak shines as the hard-nosed lawyer Gail. Ruciak is outstanding as she portrays the transformation of Gail from an insensitive snob to a vulnerable woman seeking love and companionship.

While the six main characters tell their story of love and loss, two others act as narrators and fill in the extra roles.

Matthew Braid and Colleen McComish play parts ranging from belligerent young children to latter day Lotharios and Thai brides. They are brilliant and provide much of the humour that lightens the topic of this clever play.

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State Theatre Company
The Space, Adelaide Festival Centre

Review by Andy Ahrens

The State Theatre Company's latest offering is the award winning play Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by Canadian playwright Ann-Marie Macdonald. Macdonald has cleverly integrated the modern and the renaissance when Constance Ledbelly's engulfing love for Shakespeare ultimately leads her to a transformation back in time and into the world of Shakespeare itself.

Sally Cooper plays Constance to a charm. Her tender pitched voice portrays the fear and excitement of her sudden entrapment amidst some of Shakespeare's most loved characters. In her adventure she meets Othello, Desdemona and the two star-crossed lovers themselves, Romeo and Juliet.

Director Kim Durban has successfully found a balance between the worlds and languages of the periods. You see a nice contrast between the modern and the past as Constance searches for a way home without interfering with history (too much).

The play had slow beginnings before Constance's transformation, but thereafter the on-going mismatch of character, plot and time, was quite enthralling in Shakespearean tradition. Act two maintained the pace but the farce, with a bit of pantomime thrown in, ironically struggled to build the momentum to a climax. This was no slight on the players as the small and tight cast of five were highly polished on opening night and had no difficulties taking on a number of different characters between them, including Desdemona, Othello, Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, Mercutio and of course, a ghost.

With Durban's direction, the cast showed impeccable timing in their gestures and movements, owning the space, and they were well supported by Fight Coordinator, Robert MacPherson who assisted with some soft shoe duelling. Original music by Stuart Day was a most welcome addition to an enjoyable theatre experience.

There is plenty of wit and drama in this play to ensure that those who don't normally view Shakespeare will be easily carried along by the journey. The State Theatre Company, hosting talent from near and afar, continue to flourish with quality theatre suitable for wide audiences.

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Bell Shakespeare
Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
Until September 25

Review by Nikki Gaertner

William Shakespeare's 'The Comedy of Errors', is certainly just that, and the clever and witty script combined with John Bell's direction and a talented cast made for a very entertained audience on Friday night.

The majority of the action takes place in a market square, and strange "minion-like" market vendors greet viewers and mingle with them on entry into the theatre. Impressive tricks performed by an accomplished magician lead in to the play itself, and are continued throughout adding some glamour to the scene changes. The colourful and eye-catching set and costumes complement the feel of the show, along with the mystic remixes of popular tunes playing in the background.

The play is delivered in a single act, which works well, as the confusion on stage and audience connection is never broken.

As the title suggests, the story is based on several "errors", mainly based on mistaken identity, and as these build, so too does the humour. Two sets of twins, one set bearing the name Antipholus, and the other named Dromio are separated at a young age and grow up unaware of the existence of the other. Confusion arises when Antipholus and his servant Dromio (both of Syracuse) decide to visit Ephesus (where their brothers reside), and each set of twins is mistaken for the other.

While the entire cast is superb, there are some standout performances throughout the duration of the show. Paul Eastway and Darren Gilshenan have a lot of fun with their Dromio characters and each has a natural flair for comedy. Likewise, Blazey Best pushes her presentation of Adriana (wife of Antiphous of Ephesus) to the limits with a pleasing, over the top interpretation of the character. Sean O'Shea and Christopher Stollery (both as Antipholus), contrast nicely as their more serious characters who are more and more bewildered as the show progresses.

The Comedy of Errors is comic Shakespeare at its best, and this rendition should not be missed. Get in quick - the season is short!

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Main Theatre Adelaide Centre for the Performing Arts
Until September 21

Review by Stephanie Johnson

Three hours of dramatic tragedy may not be everybody's cup of tea, but the Arts' double bill is a feast for true Shakespeare buffs.

Star-struck lovers launch the evening of the bard's work in an abridged version of "Romeo and Juliet".

Director Peter Dunn's 1950s setting for this romantic tragedy starts in an upbeat fashion more reminiscent of a "Grease" musical than a Shakespearean play.

The set's unusual Tupperware accessories took the 50s theme a little too far. Nevertheless the quirky approach works with a John Travolta style Romeo wooing a Sandra Dee like Juliet.

Ebony Sciberras shone as a whimsical, charming and intense Romeo. He was ably supported by a cheeky Ptiika Owen Shaw as Benvolio and a witty Christopher Nash as Mercutio. This trio's scenes provide some of the highlights of the evening.

Jo-Anne Dunstan delivers her lines strongly but somehow fails to capture the fey qualities of a young Juliet.

Nurse Lori Farmer often steals the lime light. It is a testimony to young Farmer's comic genius that she is able to elicit laughs despite sometimes mumbling her lines.

The second half of the double bill is the tragedy "Macbeth". Greed, ambition and betrayal are just some of the sinister qualities portrayed in this famous play.

The Arts 3rd Year acting, technical production and design students have pulled off a tour de force with this production.

The set is stunning, the costumes are simple and effective and the direction powerful, however it is the main characters who steal the show.

From the moment that she steps on to the stage Claire Dunn is chillingly convincing as the ruthlessly ambitious Lady Macbeth.

Jonothan Wood also powerfully portrays the transition of Macbeth from a weak but worthy thane to an equally weak but evil King.

Ptiika Own-Shaw as Lady Macduff and Mia Mason in her array of characters, particularly Macbeth's servant are also standout performances.

The three witches' rap rendition of their sooth-saying verse provides a bedazzling moment in the midst of serious tragedy. All in all this is not a light evening, but it is a worthwhile one.

The plays can be seen together or separately.

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Adelaide Repertory Theatre
The Arts Theatre

Review by Wendy Mildren

Noel Coward is remembered for his brittle humour, devastating chic with a touch of outrage. Hay Fever is about an obnoxious, ego-centric, dysfunctional family and yet Coward makes the audience believe the family is amusing.

The Adelaide Repertory's production of this Coward classic looks great with a lavish set and stylishly authentic looking costumes, however, some of the diction lacked the crispness and clarity which is essential for the dialogue.

The standout performance was by Rosemary Hambledon who played the aging actress, Judith Bliss. Hambledon captured the ego-centrisity of the character, and yet made her appealing. Gavin Schultz as Sandy Tyrell and Bianca Kostic-London as Jackie Coryton were excellent and maintained their characterisations. Karal Zimmermann as the somewhat obnoxious Myra Arundel was over the top but entertaining.

John Hambledon as David Bliss and Richard Gruca as Richard Greatham delivered their lines with great pomp but were not likeable. Nicholas Ely as Simon Bliss was suitably obnoxious but lacked clarity of dialogue.

Stella Koukouvitakis as Sorel Bliss played her part with great energy, and looked the part. Lindy LeCornu as Clara made the most of a small part.

Kerry Hailstone, the Director of this production, is to be congratulated with the overall look and blocking of the show. The season will run from 17 to 25 September.

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Mixed Salad Productions
The Promethean Theatre

Review by Theresa Dolman

Five Women... examines the lives of five bridesmaids at a large American wedding. The action is set in the bedroom of the bride's younger sister. Brought together in this unusual scenario, unsure of why they are the chosen ones, the women share their worries and their woes, and inevitably form a close bond that renews their will to survive.

Written by Alan Ball, author of American Beauty and Six Feet Under, this poignant comedy examines the strengths and weaknesses of the female sex. The play is brilliantly directed by Sally Putnam and Dave Simms to bring out the highs and lows, causing the audience to shriek with laughter one minute and be shocked into silence the next.

The first shock is the set---I hope they had a 'Spotlight' discount card! The entire room is covered with rose print material---the walls, the quilt cover, the flounce, the cushions, the lot. Team this up with a lolly-pink bedside unit, and you get a good idea of the sort of family the bride is coming from.

Maggie O'Grady's delightful portrayal of Frances, the true, innocent Christian, challenged the audience to question some of their own beliefs and values. The bride's younger, tormented, sister Meredith was beautifully brought to life by Bonnie-Fay Madigan. Trisha (Bernadette Bycroft) comes across as the stronger, worldly surviver, but when the only male in the play, Tripp, played by the gorgeous and talented Ben Passehl enters the female domain.... well, you will have to see it to find out.

Nicole Rutty was simply brilliant as the depressed Georgeanne. She gets more and more sloshed as the day progresses, and delivers some of the best lines in the play. The final bridesmaid, Mindy (Mellisa Clark), was one of the most intriguing characters---the lesbian sister of the groom, who is naturally bitter because the bride will not acknowledge her long standing partner.

All five females delivered a truly professional performance.

Running until October 2nd at the Promethean Theatre on Grote Street, this is a "must see" production.

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The Weimar Room

Review by Simon Slade

Since jazz often involves a degree of improvisation, it is perhaps surprising that no one had thought to combine jazz with theatresports - until now.

Two teams of musicians compete in a ring with a referee in a parody of an old wrestling match, complete with drop down microphone! There are eleven different rounds, and the teams play for about three minutes each per round.

With help from the audience to choose songs, and the styles in which they are to be played, the teams play their way through each round with the result decided by the audience.

So far, so good.

As with any game, it is important that the referee is familiar with the rules, and this is where the show almost began to fall apart at about Round Five. It is fine to allow the audience to choose songs and styles, provided that it is done in a structured format. At times it seemed as though the rules were changing mid-round!

The musicians on both teams rose to each challenge, however, and the standard of playing was particularly high. Some of the solo work was outstanding, and the duelling bass players in Round Four (Ben Fuller and Lyndon Gray) were a real highlight.

This was a one-off show and it is something that deserves to be done again. Comedian Hew Parham is very amusing in the character of the referee but needs to keep tighter control of proceedings. That is something that will come when this concept is done more often.

The audience of mostly jazz lovers were familiar with the material being performed, but even those of us who were not, found a lot to enjoy in the music.

Once again, the Weimar Room has presented a concept that is entertaining and different. With some work on scripting and the rules of the game, Jazz Wrestling could become a more regular feature.

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South Australian Light Opera Society Incorporated
Tower Arts Centre
Until September 12, 2004

Review by Stephanie Johnson

Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Gondoliers" sails the seas of romantic love as well as making a few waves with satirical barbs lampooning snobbery and socialism.

Combine this with comedy, melodic music and colourful characters and it is little wonder that its popularity has continued for more than one hundred years.

The South Australian Light Opera Society has made an apt choice and made the most of the intricacies of the story as well as the pleasing music.

"The Gondoliers", first performed in 1889, tells a tangled tale of two Venetian gondoliers who marry their sweethearts only to discover that they may not be Gondoliers after all. One of them may be the King of Barataria already betrothed at birth.

The scene is set for an entertaining evening under the deft hand of Director Pam Tucker and Musical Director Daphne Harris.

The set, the costumes and the music are all imminently suitable for the colourful setting of Venice, Italy.

The characters are also well handled by the cast.

Hamish Anear (Marco) and Andrew Trestrail (Giuseppe) are aptly humorous and quixotic as the two Gondoliers. Anear gives a show-stopping rendition of "Take a pair of sparkling eyes".

Pantalooned Peter Bleby gives the Duke of Plaza-Toro just the right dose of buffoonery while Daphne Harris gives a commanding performance as the dowager duchess. Both Bleby and Harris provide just the right elements to make the most of the lampooning lyrics and script.

Roslyn Fleming as Casilda, Kathy Wardle as Gianetta and Myfanwy Tilley as Tessa all provide the right touch of romance as the main love interests.

"The Gondoliers" is a fun-filled and colourful blend of humour, dancing and singing with plenty of movement and vitality.

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Ingle Night and Bakehouse Theatre Company
Bakehouse Theatre

Review by Theresa Dolman

Written and performed by Ingle Knight, 'The Getaway Bus' explores the life of Thomas Carew.

The story opens with Thomas waking up. He is on a bus, and has just missed his stop. He tells us his story. He emigrated with his parents from England to the most isolated capital city in the world---Perth. He never really fit in at his new school, so one day he decided to just stay on the bus. Since then he has spent most of his waking life on the bus, traveling the endless loop from Mirabooka to Mundaring Weir.

Thomas has a mundane existance, until one day, on the bus, he meets the Welsh girl Moffy. Moffy encourages Thomas to join a local acting school, run by the British thesbian Frank. His life becomes less and less mundane.

Wonderfully directed by Alan Becher, Knight brings his story, full of humour and pathos, to life. He slips effortlessly from one character to the next, with larger-than-life facial expressions and gestures. The subtle lighting enhances the overall visuals of this one man performance, keeping the audience enthralled from being to the climatic end.

Another great "Festival of One" production at the Bakehouse Theatre.

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MS Society
Helen Reid Hall, Walford College

Review by Andy Ahrens

Directors David Lampard and Joshua Penley have understood the comic strip sense of this rarely seen 'cutesy' musical and provided a very entertaining production.

If you loved 'Peanuts' you'll love the familiar characters of the comic strip as they come to life in fun, colourful and moving extracts.

Lampard also plays a sympathetic Charlie Brown and he is supported by a solid cast who threw themselves into the scenes willingly.

Clair Bowman is a sensation as wannabe Lucy, whilst Dannii Zappia's highlight of the evening was her 'Philosophy' song in her role of Sally.

True to the comic, there were good character performances from Derek Robinson as Schroeder and Rod Schultz as Linus. Thumb sucking and towel obsessed Schultz also provided some nifty dancing. The choreography overall though could have been further developed to enhance the entertainment.

Penley stole the show as Snoopy in his rendition of 'Supper Time', performed with expert showmanship. Yet the cast immediately backed up Penley's triumph with a very touching finale, 'Happiness', leaving the audience wanting more. All of a sudden the search for these characters and the comic strips made sense.

The technical aspects of the show need improvement in most areas and a there were moments where voices lost their way. Apart from these minor niggles, 'You're a Good Man Charlie Brown', with its small and tight cast is a delight. Opening appropriately at 7:30pm and finishing at 9:30pm it is well suited for family audiences.

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Windmill Performing Arts
Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre

Review by Nikki Gaertner

Windmill Performing Arts has achieved critical acclaim for productions staged during the company's short (but outstanding) history over the past two years. Afternoon of the Elves is no exception. Geared to send a message to a young audience, but equally suitable for those of any age, the show explores the pressures of fitting in and belonging to a popular crowd, and how some people don't have life as easy as the rest of us.

This show was presented with the utmost polish - faultless lighting and sound, and an impressive and effective rotating set enabling seamless scene changes. It was a pity, however, that the Lenox house front and screen doors were curiously hinged at opposite sides, causing entry and exit through the doorway to appear somewhat clumsy.

A small cast presented the story of Hillary Lenox (Emily Hunt), new to the area and trying hard to fit in with her two "popular" friends Alison (Katherine Fyffe) and Jane (Ursula Yovich). As the story progresses she also slowly befriends the girl living in the run down house next door, Sarah-Kate Connolly (Amber McMahon). Sarah-Kate is convinced that elves have established themselves in her backyard, and this is the catalyst for her inviting Hillary to "come and see".

All of the girls perform well, and are very convincing as school students. McMahon in particular stands out with the off-beat nature of her character, swinging through many emotional highs and lows. Likewise Hunt deals well with the struggle Hillary faces between popularity and wanting to be friends with her unpopular and seemingly strange neighbour. Margot Fenley and Rory Walker also add some nice scenes to the play as Hillary's concerned mother, and garden-obsessed father.

Director Linda Hartzell should be proud of her achievement in delivering a touching and powerful production that will be loved by young and old alike.

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Therry Dramatic Society
The Arts Theatre

Review By Wendy Mildren

The Therry Dramatic Society's latest offering "Night Must Fall" opened to a packed audience. This darkly atmospheric play by Emlyn Williams was a not very remarkable 1937 film by MGM. However, this version, directed by Kerrin White, had far more appeal.

The play is set in the 1930s in a house isolated deep in a forest owned by an imperious allegedly crippled woman, Mrs. Bramson, played convincingly by Debra Millikan. She rules the house with a rod of iron and takes delight in tormenting her neice who is forced by circumstances to work for her, and her staff.

There are some very nice characterisations played by Roman Turkiewicz, as Hubert Laurie, Elizabeth Slee as the irrepressible housekeeper, Alicia Smith as the neice, and Myfanwy May as the nurse.

The standout performance is by David Thring as the manic charmer "Dan". He was quite chilling to watch him charm and kill.

It was a pleasant change to see a stylised set rather than the traditional box set, and it worked very well establishing the atmosphere. The season continues until 28 August and is recommended viewing.

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Patch Theatre Company
Odeon Theatre

Review By Simon Slade

Patch Theatre Company continues its mission to bring theatre to young children with this production. Six of Pamela Allen's children's stories are brought to life in a show that is a combination of drama, puppetry, music and storytelling.

This is all achieved cleverly by the cast - Paul Blackwell, David Pidd, and Astrid Pill - and by the use of clever items of scenery and props. The lighting is very effective in highlighting some of the effects too.

The audience of children aged up to about six years was clearly captivated, and there was plenty to keep the parents laughing too. The creation of the route from The Domain to the Archibald fountain, along with a number of the landmarks along the way, out of seemingly random items is masterful, getting a huge round of applause. It also mirrors the way that children play, and that is one of Patch's assets.

It is often easy to think of theatre as being something for adults, and sometimes older children. This ignores that when young children play dress ups they are actors; when they build a fort out of two chairs and a blanket, they are set designers; when they make up stories they are authors. This show allows the children to use their imagination in the same way. As David Pidd and Astrid Pill performed as a cow, using a couple of blankets and a Viking's helmet, a little girl turned to her mother and asked, "Is that a real cow."

The children's interest is maintained because each of the stories is relatively short, with a change in pace to the next.

If you have children aged up to about six, you should definitely see this show. If you don't have children, borrow some. You'll love the show and they will love you for taking them.

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Star Theatre,145 Sir Donald Bradman Drive, Hilton

Review By Wendy Mildren

The Adelaide premiere season of "Still Angela" opened to a packed house. This offering is written and directed by Jenny Kemp, and has a cast of four and runs for one hour.

The cast consists of three women, portraying young, a slightly older Angela and a 40 year old Angela. It is a story of a woman exploring her options and where she fits into the grand scheme of things as she ages. It was a little confusing at first to see all three women on stage at the same time, but the dialogue quickly informs the audience. There is no set, as such, but the dialogue is heightened by the atmospheric lighting and innovative use of video and sound effects.

The three women are played by Natasha Herbert, Margaret Mills and Lucy Taylor. All playing their parts with verve and intensity. The only male in the piece is played by Simon Wilton, who also produced a pleasant singing voice.

This will not be everyone's cup of tea as there is some offensive language, however, if you have an hour to spare this might be a good way of using it.

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Tea Tree Players
Tea Tree Players Theatre

Review By Theresa Dolman

This unusual play is a clever mix of fact and fiction. The Beauchamp family live in their residence on Montefore Hill, here in Adelaide, in the 1870's. Colonel Charles Beauchamp (Brian Godfrey) commands the local army, who are ready to fend off invasion from the Russian menace that he believes is heading to Glenelg to raid the colonies. Marcus (David Kenna), totally unconvinced that invasion is imminent, has come to the house to ask if he may marry the Colonel's daughter, Louise (Sonja Hine).

Godfrey does a wonderful job as the tyranical but hapless Colonel, and has solid support from Kenna as the would-be suitor. Bluey Byrne gives a stirling performance as their son Thaddeus; he is also responsible for the wonderful scenic backdrop.

Marian Moore is perfectly cast as the Grandmother, and delivers some of the best lines in the play. New-comer Stefanie Goodwin is delightful as Thaddeus' girlfriend Annette. Rob Uyen shows off his talent for accents as the shonky builder Harry Kelp, commisioned to build Fort Glenelg. Terry Boswell has a good feel for the era as local newsman Godwin Smedley.

Jo Allenby shows her wonderful versatlity by playing the role of the long suffering wife and also designing (and probably making) the majority of the costumes necessary to make this play work. Director Syvia Bolingbroke has worked hard to capture the essence of the era. The set design is true to the time and, complemented by Robert Andrews' lighting, takes you back to a by-gone era.

Night of the Ding Dong is something different from Tea Tree Players, but produced with their usual flair, and a good night's entertainment.

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Gilbert & Sullivan Society
Her Majesty's Theatre

Review By Fran Edwards

The evening got underway with a couple of Noel Coward numbers, suitably irreverent and perfect mood setters. After a rendition of "Don't put your daughter on the Stage Mrs Worthington" (which would have rivalled Mr Coward's) as an opener Mr Olsen could do no wrong. He delighted the audience with snippets from some of his most memorable roles. Particular favourites were "The Nightmare Song" from Iolanthe and "Tit Willow" from the Mikado.

Heather Brooks gave us a beautiful version of "Poor Wandering One" and Deborah Caddy, Hazel Green, James Pratt and Lachlan Scott did a delightful "A regular Royal Queen" (from The Gondoliers) complete with choreography. They joined Dennis for various other numbers the best of which was "Here's a How-de-do" (the Mikado) which was energetically performed by Mr Olsen, Mr Pratt and Miss Brooks. We went to interval with a further two Coward songs book ending the act. "Mad dogs and Englishmen" making a nice Act finale.

After the interval we were given Trial by Jury directed by Richard Trevaskis with James Pratt taking up the baton to musically direct and conduct. Amongst some very good performances Dennis Olsen stood out, as expected. Brian Gilbertson(The Defendant), Peter Hopkins(Counsel for the Plaintiff) and Keith Hampton(Usher) all gave fine performances and Deborah Caddy was resplendent as the jilted bride.

There was nice support from the bridesmaids and the jury, in fact the entire chorus was disciplined and sang beautifully. All was backed by a small tight orchestra that at no time overpowered the singers. In all it was a divertingly pleasant evening.

Dennis Olsen will star in the Gilbert & Sullivan Society's production of "Pirates of Penzance" as Major General Stanley opening in October.

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Adelaide University Theatre Guild
Little Theatre, Adelaide University Cloisters

Review By Fran Edwards

So many directors transport Shakespeare's plays to different times and places and the result is often less than satisfactory. This time it works, and works well. This is a delightful comedy with interweaving plots and it sits beautifully in the 1930's world of a Mediterranean holiday destination. It has a playful relaxed atmosphere which complements the script and allows the plot to develop.

Michael Baldwin's direction makes excellent use of the versatile Little Theatre, seldom have I seen the space so well used. The action flowed and the actors were positioned for maximum effect. The costuming was in tune with the rest of the production and was well thought out and executed. The lighting and music added to the overall picture created by Max Mastrosavas' simple but effective set. In particular the accordion of Matt Gilbertson enriched the scenes with atmosphere. The dancing added another dimension, with an expressive tango mimicking the courtship dance inherent in the script.

The casting was uniformly good with some real stand-outs and a few small niggles. Maxine Harding looked right and her characterisation of Maria was fine, but her diction slipped and her speed of delivery made it difficult to understand her at times. David Adams and Gary George were the perfect comic foils as Sir Andrew and Sir Toby. Tamara Lee made an unexpected and tuneful Feste extracting all the gentle humour that part has. Olivia was played with just the right amount of sensitivity and strength by Petra Schulenburg.

Adoni Fotopoulos and Aldo Longobardi gave solid performances as Sebastian and Antonio and all of the minor roles were played well. Wendy Bos as Viola was completely believable and showed all the nuances of the character. John Edge surpassed himself as Malvolio, ridiculous and dignified in perfect balance, while Peter Davies gave us the best Orsino I have seen for a while. Davies has a huge stage presence and he and Bos complement each other superbly. This is a must see for any Shakespeare fan, see it even if you're not - it might convert you!

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Venture Theatre Company
Christies Beach Primary School

Review By Rod Lewis

When word gets around that dastardly Muldoon and his gang are heading their way, the frightened townsfolk of Black Frog Creek decide to make a stand.

John Gardiner and Fiz Coleman's simplistic western romp is ideal for the youngsters it is aimed at and for the community spirit of Venture's latest offering. Studly Mathew Campbell is well cast as the strong, brave sheriff of Black Frog Creek, but Jess Ramsay underplays the sweet, naive heroine too much.

As prospector Filthy Frank, Cherylene O'Brien milks her character for all he's worth but is outdone by the show's shining light Lisa Aveyard, playing barmaid Yippee Brown. The loveable evil-doers bumble their way into town and gain the upper hand by fate rather than skill.

Teagan Coe and Grant Jeffrey relish their roles as the quirky offsiders, led by a delightful Craig Jeffrey as the frustrated and hapless gang leader.

Karena Viant's choreography is quite good given the unsophisticated score by Andrew Parr, with the Red Indian dance being particularly notable.

The live band - a rarity for this company - is excellent. Gemma Benton, Bonnie Kennedy and Kim Bastian underscore the handful of numbers and provide some sound effects for the action.

Larraine Ball's direction suffers from a few masking problems on the cramped stage, but is filled with plenty of good visual gags.

As with most of Venture's plays however, tighter entrances and more work on lines would do the play wonders. The painted wood panel set of the town's bar is one of the best the company has had in its current venue.

Running at only 90 minutes with interval, Black Frog hops along nicely to the merry sound of laughter.

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Noarlunga Theatre Company
The Arts Centre, Port Noarlunga

Review By Simon Slade

Pam and Deidree are off to visit Diedree's mum in Queensland. Pam's husband, Sid, and Deidree's husband, Eddy, waste no time in arranging a little "secret men's business" and finding a couple of girls for the night. Of course, Sid's fondness for the bottle, and the fact that Eddy is a bit slow on the uptake mean that things are going to go wrong.

When the boys answer the door, expecting to find the girls, but instead it is Deidree's mother, Grace, from Queensland, mistakenly believing that she was meant to be visiting her daughter. Grace is there long enough for us to realise that she is losing her marbles, before the girls arrive!

Not only that, but the wives have missed their flight and returned home!

Written and directed by Terry Griffin, this show has some nice comic moments and manic scenes, but would have benefited from some editing of some of the flat spots in the script. At times it seemed that this was pure farce and at others that it was a subtler comedy, but the two did not always mix well.

Debbie Kellaway, as Pam, is a highlight of the show, showing a real feel for comedy. Wendy Mildren has the chance to shine too, as Grace. Playing a senile mother could easily come off as a poor imitation of Ruth Cracknell in "Mother and Son" but, to Mildren's credit, she makes this role her own. Martin Eastwood, as Sid, and Toni Proctor, as Crystal, also bring out some of the best in their roles.

The aim of this show is purely to entertain, and the audience was certainly appreciative.

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Kate Fuller
The Weimar Room

Review By Stephanie Johnson

Adelaide's own Kate Fuller is a songbird well equipped to take on a tribute to the late Eva Cassidy.

Cassidy was acclaimed as a "woman who brought beauty to the eyes, ears and hearts of everyone she encountered." Kate Fuller is well on her way to receiving the same accolades.

Kate's one-woman show, "Eva", was hailed as the highlight of this year's Weimar Cabaret Fringe. Her return show, "Eva Encore" proves why.

Kate's mellifluous voice is mesmerizing as she captures the magic of Eva Cassidy classics.

The first half of her surprising tribute includes well-known favourites such as "Heaven", "Autumn Leaves" and "Fields of Gold". The second half includes jazz highlights such as "Blue Skies" "Songbird" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore".

The Bruce Hancock trio accompanies her with style and well deserves its own accolades.

Kate's voice is her strength. She also intersperses her songs with snippets of information about Cassidy, but she could perhaps go into a little more detail about Eva's personal and professional story. Eva's tale is a touching and powerful one and not everyone who is familiar with the songs, necessarily knows the full story.

Another suggestion would be that Kate start with a couple of up tempo numbers to engage her cabaret style audience before launching into the more haunting renditions such as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

Nevertheless this sweet and talented young singer is a startling discovery and deserves to receive national, even international support, with this homage to the equally astounding talent of Eva Cassidy.

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4Bux Progressive Arts
Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre

Review By Theresa Dolman

84 is a work in progress, inspired by George Orwell's science fiction classic '1984'.

With the use of spy technology, live audio and visual effects, 4Bux have produced an interesting and thought provoking look at life under the watchful eye or Orwell's Big Brother. They have turned the Festival Centre's Artspace into a viewing centre from which you can observe life inside of a 'modern' 1950's household, complete with wringer washing machine and rounded refrigerator.

The audience looks into the house through a gauze scrim. Inside, the incredibly talented Stephen Sheehan portrays a half-crazed individual caught up in a perverse world where his every move is monitored, and his freedom of thought is subdued by constant advertising.

After the performance, which goes for approximately 20 minutes, the audience is introduced to the team behind 4Bux and invited to comment and discuss what they thought about the entertainment format. Anyone interested in theatre and live entertainment will find this of interest.

During the day you can see 4Bux working on the set and exploring new ideas. Evening shows are just $5 a ticket, and well worth seeing.

But be warned---there are no seats, so you need to be prepared to stand for while.

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Arts Project Australia
Her Majesty's Theatre

Review By Theresa Dolman

Philippe Genty, with help from various actors, technicians and manipulators, transports the audience into a surreal world somewhere between dream and fantasy.

With amazing use of sound, lighting and illusion, the audience were mesmerised as the actors journeyed through time and space. The action flows smoothly as actors slide effortlessly along a flat, unmoving stage, or float helplessly in space. There is certainly no time to be bored.

With incredible illusions, characters ranging from tiny to huge are brought to life: the 'person' in red (who seems to die more often than Kenny in South Park), the over-sized eater of heads, the cigarette-smoking head of someone's Grandfather (kept in a small bird size cage, of course) and a dog-person coughing up question marks.

The technicians and un-seen manipulators work diligently and silently, with as much business going on backstage as on stage. The space itself appears to rise and fall as each effect is manipulated. Huge objects appear from nowhere, and disappear just as mysteriously.

This remarkable presentation was enjoyed by a diverse audience, from young to old. This production is well worth seeing. But hurry, with only a three day season, playing at Her Majesty Theatre until Saturday 7 August, Vanishing Point is vanishing fast!

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St Jude's Players
St Jude's Hall

Review By Theresa Dolman

This very clever and witty play revolves around Ginny (Allison Scharber). Ginny decides to end a relationship she has been having with Philip (Peter Smith), an older, married man. She heads off to see Philip on a Sunday morning, when she thinks Philip's wife Sheila (Myra Waddell) will be at church. She tells her new lover, Greg (Fahad Farooque), that she is going to visit her parents.

The fun begins when Greg decides he should go and meet Ginny's parents and ask for her hand in marriage. Meanwhile, Sheila skips church because she does not like the replacement vicar they have every third Sunday after Lent.

St Jude make good use of their limited space. The scene change between Ginny's apartment and Philip and Sheila's garden was a little long on opening night, but this should improve with practice. Robert Aust's garden set was well designed, and has some wonderful art work by Janet Ralph.

Farooque gave a most enjoyable performance. His opening scene, with his 'Sabu' sheet attire, was very natural. Scharber also gives a solid, believable performance as the young woman with more than one man in her life.

This is apparently Smith's first comic role; I doubt it will be his last, as his timing and reactions were wonderful. Waddell was in her element as the slightly confused but accommodating wife, her facial expressions had the audience in fits.

Well directed by Norm Craddick, this Alan Ayckbourn comedy is well worth seeing.

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Independent Theatre
Odeon Theatre, Norwood

Review By Stephanie Johnson

Set in the 19th century George Elliot's novel "Daniel Deronda" portrays a rich array of characters attempting to find purpose in a society beset with rules and prejudices. The personal choices and subsequent life journeys of the main characters are the essence of this novel.

As such it is not such an unusual choice of production for the Independent Theatre Company. The novel has the potential to translate well on to the stage.

Writer and director Rob Croser chose to tackle the challenge with gusto. A brave move given that comparisons by Elliot aficionados are bound to arise.

The novel and play intertwine several stories, focussing on the search for purpose and meaning of a maturing hero and the challenges of a naïve and selfish heroine.

Croser has transported Elliot's English and European setting, detailing the growth of Zionism in the 19th century to Germany and the rise of Nazism.

Shifting the setting to Nazi Germany is the main flaw in this production. The politics of Judaism vs Nazism tends to override the characterization and the cultural background. There are some beautiful scenes that celebrate the Jewish faith, but there are also a couple of really jarring Gestapo images.

Fortunately Dai Davison gives a remarkable performance as the central character Deronda. He is a linchpin for the play interweaving a role of narrator and actor brilliantly.

The characterization of Gwyndolyn is not as effective. Alexandra Ruffin struggles with dialogue that fails to portray the egoism of a spoiled young woman and her increasing awareness of conscience through suffering.

On the contrary the role of Mirah has been expanded giving Hannah Moore the scope to portray much of the richness of her character, as well as that of the Jewish faith.

Other characters that shine in this production are David Roath as Deronda's benevolent benefactor Count Hugo, Darren Paul as the chillingly calculating Heinrich Grunberg and Nick Bennett as the Jewish mystic Mordecai. (Note that many of the names in the novel have been Germanised).

Despite its politically heavy-handed approach, Independent's "Daniel Deronda" is a satisfying theatrical experience, providing plenty of food for thought and discussion.

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Hills Musical Company
Stirling Community Theatre

Review by Fran Edwards

42nd Street returned to the Stirling Community Theatre and it was welcomed with open arms. The very appreciative audience enjoyed every moment and demanded an extra encore! This was hardly surprising given the undisputed success of the show first time around. There were only very minor cast changes and all the principals returned for more.

Once again Peta Long shone as, Peggy Sawyer, the chorus girl destined to become a star. Peta has all the energy and pizzazz that this role needs. Her performance is complemented beautifully by the wonderful strong support given by the excellent Chris Buhagiar as Julian Marsh, the producer, and the exuberant Chris Eaton as Billy Lawler, her leading man. Jenny Scarce-Tolley sang the role of Dorothy Brooks as a diva should. The writers were played by Jenny Bowen and Greg Beer who gave solid interpretations of the characters, possibly even better than first time around.

There was some great tapping from the trio of Linda Lawson, Georgia Dodd and Shelley Crooks, as Peggy's friends and the minor roles were given depth by Angus Smith, Malcolm Walton and Marcus Roberts who danced his heart out as Andy, the dance captain. All this was underscored by the exceptional chorus which this time included Choreographer, Sue Pole and dance captain, Rebecca Vallen.

From the well designed and simple, effective sets to the nicely understated costumes this show was slick and energetic, lovely to listen to, beautiful to watch. Max Rayner put together a wonderful show and it managed not to look stale on the replay. Leith Pederick had the small orchestra well under control and sounding good.

There were a few nerves showing on the first night of the second run, but nothing to really detract and the lack of a costume change for Miss Brook in the early scenes is still baffling, but if those are its only faults you would have to concur - it's a very good show!

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State Opera Young Artist Studio Program
The Opera Studio - Netley

Review by Simon Slade

Sunday in the Park with George is based on the Georges Seurat painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." It explores the parallels between the artist's life and his work, and explores musically the Pointillist style of painting pioneered by Seurat.

Both Seurat and his great-grandson in the second act have a similar trouble of connecting (in particular with their lovers), unable to find the balance between their loves and their work.

Producer and director, Patrick Lim, demonstrates his love for this show, and his understanding of the complexities of the work. As well as producing and directing, he stars as Georges, and the modern day George. This is no mean feat, as there is hardly a moment that he is not on stage. Sometimes he seemed to struggle a little with range and breathing, something unusual for a performer of his experience, but then this is a difficult role.

At the same age as the artist at the time of the painting, Lim performs the role with a gentler touch than most, which works well for him, particularly in "We do not Belong Together." He also shows a comic flair, bringing out the best in the conversation between the dogs.

Eleanor Blythman, as Dot, also made the most of some of her comic moments, but was difficult to hear at times over the orchestra.

The music was a delight, musical director Anthony Hunt controlling his musicians well. This is not an easy score, and he is working in less than ideal conditions with the orchestra to the side of the stage. This does wonders for the clarity, but less so for volume levels.

An ensemble piece, with no chorus in the traditional sense, and the performers are generally very strong. Vocally there is little to criticise, however, with a Sondheim show, many roles call for a strong actor as well as strong singers.

I hope we don't have to wait another 20 years to see this show again.

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Unley Youth Project
Walford Anglican School for Girls

Review by Nikki Gaertner

Unley Youth Project has put together its current production, 'Party!', in an effort to illustrate some of the issues that are faced by today's youth through popular numbers from Broadway productions. Over two acts, topics such as 'Dreams', 'Jealousy', 'Freedom', 'Education' and 'Passions' are presented to the audience through song and dance.

The night started a little late due to some technical difficulties, and some solo performers were unfortunately the victims of nerves during the first act. This was a pity, as their talent was obvious, despite some stumbles over notes and lyrics.

However, after the first few numbers allowed everyone to accustom themselves to the onlooking audience, the cast's energy and enthusiasm for performing shone through. The number of smiles on stage increased during the first act, and the entire second act took another step up with some great numbers to get the crowd swaying and humming along.

Highlights of the evening were ensemble numbers 'Time Warp' (complete with strange and psychedelic costumes), 'Stepping Out' and 'Sing, Sing, Sing!'. Individual and group performances of 'Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag', 'New Math', 'I Enjoy Being A Girl', 'On a Wonderful Day Like Today' and 'Mr Bojangles' also stood out as crowd pleasers.

The majority of costumes were colourful and effective (aside from a few that may be considered "too old" for the wearers), and the changeover between numbers was relatively seamless.

All in all, 'Party!' showcased a large number of keen performers (ranging between ages 10 and 25), who were all given a chance to show their potential during the toe tapping numbers delivered over the night.

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Burnside Players Inc
Burnside Ballroom

Review by Stephanie Johnson

"Daisy Pulls It Off" is a frightfully good girls own adventure story set in an English boarding school.

Burnside Players has done a topping job of tackling the schoolgirl shenanigans.

"Daisy Pulls It Off", by playwright Denise Deegan, is a West End hit that captures 1920s schoolgirl novels written by the likes of Enid Blyton. It tells the story of scholarship girl Daisy Meredith as she struggles to overcome the snobbery of the upper class Grangewood School for Girls.

The story has all of the ingredients needed for a spiffing good schoolgirl tale including hunting for missing treasure and a midnight feast that ends in drama.

Director Megan Dansie, and her cast and crew, successfully capture the antics of English girls boarding schools in this fun-filled comedy.

The simple set, designed by Avylon Madigan, makes the most of the auditorium-like Burnside Ballroom and the costumes are unfussy and effective.

Some scenes are particularly enjoyable such as a slow motion hockey match and a hot water bottle fight in a dormitory. However, it is the girls themselves who shine in this simply "scrummy" stage play.

Burnside Players' has wisely chosen young girls to play the schoolgirls. The ages range from 13 to 20 and this works wonderfully!

Candice Moll is "capital" as Daisy Meredith, the young girl who wins a scholarship to a school where inkwells, order marks and Latin are the order of the day.

Siobhan Docherty plays Daisy's offsider Trixie Martin absolutely sublimely. The pair successfully lead a cast that is hard to separate.

Eleanor Standkiewicz is jolly good as stuck-up Sybil Burlington and Alicia Hovell does a spiffing job as her co-hort Monica Smithers.

Although the girls tend to steal the show Gerard Ryan is a standout as the teacher Mr Scoblowski and Jen Pope, as Miss Granville, is eerily reminiscent of bygone schoolmistresses.

All in all this show is a hoot. Hinc spes effulget! (Hence hope shines forth!)

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Unley Youth Project
Walford Anglican School for Girls

Review by Hayley Horton

Every theatre company in Adelaide (especially the non-profit ones) understands the need for support of live theatre. Unley Youth Project has taken this need one step further to include supporting youth initiatives, which is admirable.

Unley Youth Project's asset and patron is Rachael Beck, who obviously is passionate about keeping live theatre alive and nurturing young talent.

This was the premise for the one woman concert (with extras) performed at Walford for an intimate audience.

Rachael Beck is undoubtedly a talented woman, having proven so in productions such as "The Sound of Music", "Singing in the Rain" and most recently in Adelaide in "Cabaret - The Musical".

Following a preview of Unley Youth Project's production, "Party!" to open later in the week (full of energetic, young performers), Ms Beck graced the audience with a variety of numbers including everything from Judy Garland favourites to a snazzy combination of The Hills are Alive (from the Sound of Music - complete with habit) and Mein Herr (from Cabaret - complete with corset).

Ms Beck's talent spans more than just belting out a good tune, as it became exceedingly evident that her talents also lie with her great comic timing, and a great ability to communicate with her rapt audience, taking them on a journey through her career.

The not-so-one-woman show featured a bonus of Ms Beck's equally talented husband, Ian Stenlake, who gave the audience a sneak preview of the couple's upcoming show "Eureka" (opening in Melbourne in August), as well as performing along with the great jazz trio of Laurie Kennedy, Bruce Hancock and Les Miller.

This one night only concert was a thrill for all fans of musical theatre and a great treat for the young performers of the Unley Youth Project who hopefully have gleaned inspiration and knowledge from these strong Australian performers.

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The Weimar Room
July 10, 2004

Review by Nikki Gaertner

There was an interesting and mixed variety of routines performed at the opening of The Weimar Room's new regular show, Sketch Comedy Extravaganza GSOH! In the tradition of television shows such as "Skithouse" and "Comedy Inc", the comedians performed a number of scripted comic sketches over the duration of approximately two hours.

Sadly, the level of humour within the show didn't come close to that of its TV counterparts mentioned above, which is a pity as comedy generally is (and should be) more funny when performed live. Most of the skits severely missed that comic mark, not gaining many laughs from the sizeable and expectant audience. Stephan Sheehan's hosting also came across less than enthusiastic, so the evening didn't really head off to a good start.

The most humorous scene was Abbott and Costello's well-known "Who's on First" - but this was mostly due to the clever and famous script, rather than the delivery. A couple of other sketches showed potential, but still needed just a little more polish to truly be deemed winners. The rest left the audience either puzzled or flat.

However, the price is significantly low for this night of entertainment, at only $9 per head including the first drink. So those who want to give this sketch show a go can head to The Weimar Room on the 2nd Saturday of every month.

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Northern Light Theatre Company
Playford Civic Centre

Review by Hayley Horton

Terry Pratchett stories have a strong following, both on the stage and in the bookshops. Wyrd Sisters is certainly a favorite, giving a tongue-in-cheek look at theatre in the fantasy land called the Discworld.

With many an in-joke and references to a range of literary and cultural works, this play is great for Pratchett aficionados or new audiences alike.

Thorin Cupit heads up this production as Director with a mixed cast, including performers who have tread the boards more than they probably can count to those who have never stepped foot on a stage.

To find the balance in this mix is a directorial feat, which unfortunately is not achieved in this instance.

The trio of witches set on ensuring the rightful king is on the throne of their kingdom are the clinch-pin of this production, ably led by Theresa Dolman as Granny Weatherwax. Dolman is flawless in her performance, with excellent comic timing, characterization and on many occasions keeping the pace ticking.

Fran Edwards as Nanny Ogg is equally comfortable and endearing in her role, while Emily Armstrong as Magrat Garlick completes the trio with an awkwardness that is true to the original, although slightly unnerving for a two-hour performance period.

Other strong performances in this eclectic cast include Troy Brailsford as Tomjohn (particularly after only last minute rehearsals) and Bradley Martin as Duke Felmet (suitably creepy and insane).

While the stronger performances keep the witty script alive, the more inexperienced supporting cast need guidance in diction, projection and general characterizations if nothing else to diminish the awkward blocking and constant up-staging.

Without the vastness of the Shedley, the Playford Civic Centre offers cabaret seating and an open bar to further entertain the audience; however this does not compensate for the lacking production elements.

While the costuming by Ann Humphries and Fran Edwards is appropriate to the Discworld setting (except for the Fool's unexplained bare feet), the production lacks in set, set dressings and the underscoring music should be kept to the scene changes only.

Overall, Northern Light have had many new elements to deal with in this new venue, which is saved by a handful of outstanding performances and the ongoing laughs of this witty script and story.

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Tea Tree Players - Youth Group Production
Tea Tree Players Theatre

Review by Simon Slade

The Saltmarsh family - Ebeneezer, his cousins Arabella and Hepzibah, the mysterious Uncle Silas (the oldest living lunatic in Massachusetts), and their disturbed hired help Olive - inhabit 'Ye Olde Wayside Inn." They make Norman Bates and his mother look like model hotel managers!

Foul weather sends Ebenezer mad, and he lures young attractive nurses to the inn to get revenge for a past wrong. The storm forces several strangers to take shelter at the Inn, including a detective accompanied by a 'dancer', a couple of college students, a state trooper, and a woman selling make-up door to door. Of course not everyone is what he or she appears to be - and who is that skeleton in the wheelchair and why is it wearing a bridal veil?

Tim Kelly's play, a send up of the overly melodramatic comedy films of the 1920's and 1930's, is an ideal vehicle for this young and enthusiastic cast.

Lucy Catt, as Hepzibah, has a rare combination of emotional range, comic timing, and the ability to sustain a consistent accent. Jonathon Neary, as Ebeneezer, rises to his particularly challenging role, combining viciousness, madness, and physical comedy with a bizarre hair fetish! Olive the hired help (Ashleigh Clark) gets laughs on almost every entrance, and Uncle Silas (Bluey Byrne) manages to steal Scene 1 of Act 2 just by crawling and coughing!

For some of the less experienced actors, opening night nerves meant that lines were being delivered too fast and some of the cues and timing needed to be tighter. These things did tend to improve as the show went on and were minor points in a production that showcases some fine talent.

Special mention needs to be made of the very high standard of the technical aspects of the production. The sound design and execution is excellent. The set and particularly the scenic art by Bluey Byrne show both artistic flair and attention to detail.

Whilst certainly not perfect, this is the sort of show that gives community theatre a good name.

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International Concert Attractions and Michael Coppel
Festival Theatre

Review by Hayley Horton

After a sell-out season last year, the Shaolin Warriors are back in Adelaide, finishing off a busy Australian tour.

Dubbed as "more than a kung fu show", the warrior monks are a large team performing a range of martial arts in conjunction with Buddhist meditation.

These guys are extremely fit and their energy, athleticism and pure talent keeps the show together, prompting many an "ooh" and "aah" from the audience.

The stunts are amazing. The different elements are remarkable to watch especially the more death-defying acts such as "Lying on the nail bed" and "Five spears thrusting the body".

Highlights for those of us with a weaker stomach appreciate the "Drunken boxing" and the entire audience were particularly taken by the two young boy monks (who are very serious, determined and talented) as well as the audience participation segments.

While the action of this show is breathtaking, the production side lacks the professionalism audience members would expect with these ticket prices. Lighting and set design is very basic and the scripting/direction of the show can be confusing.

More information on the background of the kung fu story and Shaolin Monk history would enhance this production further (more so than the small blurbs in the program) enabling the audience to connect with the production as well as being in awe.

However, this said, the season is heavily booked once again and the pure action of this show appeals to audience members, both young and old.

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Bakehouse Theatre

Review by Rod Lewis

Co-written by performer Stephen Papps and director Stephen Sinclair, this dark comedy follows the degradation of narcotics cop Mike Fahey in his attempt to infiltrate the world of substance abusers and drug pedlars.

From the frenetic but loveable druggie Titch to Westie chick Cheryl, Papps exposes the quirky and sometimes dark side of each individual as his central character begins to identify more with the criminals he's targeting than with his own kin. Sinclair's creative direction brings each character to life without the aid of props or a set and yet the world he creates seems populated with both.

The awesome performance by Papps glides faultlessly between personalities, creating an ensemble of one actor but many characters, while multiple locations vividly appear in the mind's eye including a tavern, private homes, empty warehouses and outdoor settings.

With such an insightful script, the comedy rules the night without belittling the odd moment of harsh reality. Addictive entertainment!

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The Adelaide Repertory Theatre Inc
Arts Theatre

Review by Nikki Gaertner

Unfortunately The Rep's latest offering entirely missed the mark on opening night, as they delivered their shaky interpretation of Hugh Janes' "The Perfect Murder". After enduring the seemingly endless first act which 'set the scene', the audience was then subjected to the second, based mainly in a courtroom, with generally lifeless characters labouring through their dialogue.

Aside from the majority of performances being less than entertaining, the script itself didn't help the show, resembling a very mediocre episode of "A Touch of Frost" (or some similar television program). Brenton Whittle portrays John Hoskins who admits at the opening of the first scene to committing a murder. The story then follows John admitting this to his wife (Jean Walker), the investigation led by DI Simmons (Chris Strain), and the murder trial.

Along the way the audience is introduced to a world of accents (despite the characters all being of the same origin), including Whittle and Walkers interchanges between Londoners and Australians and Strain's Liverpool-based policeman crossed Scotsman. Further, in the role of Maria (the deceased's housekeeper) Jude Brennan introduces us to cockney, European and Australian interpretations of her character in her tedious interview scene.

On top of this, sound cues were missed and misinterpreted (including a television being turned off by touching the radio) and lines were forgotten (with a particularly agonising moment in Act II). Paul Menzies (Christopher Leech) also appears an entertained spectator in the first half of the courtroom scene, rather than an innocent accused about to be convicted of murder.

Despite everything, there were some saving grace performances, albeit in minor roles, by Najwa Basheer as the Judge and Greg Janzow as Dr Mallins. The lighting operators can also be commended on never missing a cue.

Hopefully The Rep's next show (to celebrate their 80th anniversary production) will do them more justice.

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