Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
By The Listies; devised & performed by Richard Higgins & Matthew Kelly Malthouse Theatre, Nov 27 to Dec 13, 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:***1/2 Full review also published in Herald Sun in print & online on Mon Nov 30, 2015.KH
Richard Higgins & Matthew Kelly
domain of children’s theatre, The Listies are masters of audience participation
that mainly involves kids and parents excitedly chucking stuff at these
relentlessly cheerful performers.
joyfully shambolic show for the Malthouse, The Listies Ruin Xmas, Richard
Higgins and Matthew Kelly scramble around their scruffy stage indulging in all manner
of madcap, pre-Christmas escapades.
best tradition of slapstick comedy duos, Higgins plays the obliging and
tolerant straight man to Kelly’s adorable goofball, but to the audience they
are simply Rich and Matt.
man-boys conjure the spirit of Christmas Eve with a spindly, plastic Christmas
tree, piles of colourfully wrapped presents, bikkies and milk for Santa,
twinkling strings of lights and their big bed smack in the middle of it all.
dialogue is littered with a trail of bad puns, goofy Christmas jokes, some
adult references and apologies for gags that don’t work.
physical, comic business is the highlight, starting with the present wrapping
that leaves Matt trapped in sticky-tape with gifts stuck to his hands.
dress in giant, green, Chrissie tree costumes (Marg Horwell) covered with
velcro so that, when the enthusiastic kids hurl puffy Christmas baubles at
them, they stick hilariously to their jolly targets.
and Kelly are charming and engaging, chatting directly with the crowd, crawling
across seats to get comments and hauling volunteers of all ages on stage to
participate in songs and stories.
wearing a shoddy, grey wig to play Rich’s Nan, the pair presents Karaoke by
Candlelight, teaching everyone the Aussie Seven Days of Christmas with three
child volunteers burping in unison to punctuate the chorus.
of ‘A partridge in a pear tree’, we sing, ‘Two mozzies biting and a roast when
it’s 40 degrees’, then the lyrics just get sillier and accompanying gestures
delight of the kids, there are enormous water guns, even bigger snow making devices
and a bubble machine.
Listies delight in poo and fart jokes and they simply annihilate a fairy tale,
renaming it Jack and The Beans Talk, a story that features a dad playing the
front half of a huge, green cow-dragon thingy.
Listies Ruin Xmas is rough and ready kids’ theatre that will tighten up as they
sort out the gags they like and elevate the chaos even further, but it’s sunny
entertainment from two chirpy and clever performers.
Jerry's Girls;concept by Larry Alford, Wayne Cilento & Jerry Herman; music & lyrics by Jerry Herman; produced by The Production Company Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne, Nov 21 to Dec 6, 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: *** Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Monday Nov 23, 2015 & later in print,KH
In his musicals, Jerry Herman wrote plenty of outstanding
roles for women – and for men dressed as women – and Jerry’s Girls is a glitzy
celebration of his greatest show tunes for gals.
a repertoire of over 30 Herman songs, Jerry’s
Girls is the perfect showcase for female talent and director, Dean Bryant, has
cast some of Australia’s musical theatre giants including veteran, Nancye Hayes, the inimitable Rhonda Burchmore and ever-graciousSilvie Paladino.
songs come from Herman’s renowned musicals that include Hello, Dolly! Mame,
Mack and Mabel, Parade and the cross-dressing La Cage aux Folles.
audacious highlight is Debora Krizak as the saggy, grotesque and aged stripper in
Take It All Off, singing the cruel but hilarious inversion of the title, Put It
Burchmore shines with If He Walked Into My Life, the poignant tune from Mame,while Paladino demonstrates her
impeccable tone and vocal control singing the hymn-like Milk and Honey.
Gay, known more for her television work than musicals, shows she can sing, act and
be funny when she cunningly plays both Mack and Mabel in I Won’t Send Roses.
shows her continuing versatility as a singer-dancer in Two-A-Day (Parade) and I
Was Beautiful (Dear World) while Kirby Burgess, a genuine triple-threat,
performs Showtune with a vivacious dance.
audience is champing at the bit by the time the glittering song and dance
chorus numbers finally arrive at the end of Acts One and Two.
Dolly! is a classic, classy display of 11 sassy gals wearing bold, scarlet frocks
(Owen Phillips) and singing their hearts out accompanied by a fine orchestra
led by Mathew Frank.
finale of Tap Your Troubles Away leaves us wanting more of its effervescent
chorus line of tap-dancing, singing all-stars wearing blacklamé and the obligatory, feathered headwear.
is no narrative in Jerry’s Girls because it is simply a parade of great show
tunes, but Bryant creates his own framework by setting the show in the
rehearsal room with the 11 women playing themselves and revealing real stories
about their lives in musical theatre.
Hill, another capable, musical performer, depicts the frazzled director who plays
rehearsal games, allocates songs, referees arguments and soothes nerves.
this theatrical device feels clumsy, often stalling the natural movement of songs
and interrupting the flow of the show.
dialogue feels manufactured and uncomfortable, and there are so many in-jokes
and self-referential banter about cast and choreographer, Andrew Hallsworth, that
anyone who doesn’t know the performers’ histories and characters won’t get the
the band plays and the songs are in full production mode, this show really
flies and reminds the audience of Herman’s splendid repertoire and that ‘there’s
just no tune as exciting as a show tune’.
Written by Terrence
McNally (1987) At fortyfivedownstairs,
until November 29, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Full review also published in Herald Sun online, Nov 13, 2015. It will appear later in print. KH
Richardson & Kate Kendall
two damaged and lonely characters in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune appear
to cram the first six months of their newborn relationship into a single,
fraught night of love and conflict.
Terrence McNally’s 1987 play, Frankie (Kate Kendall), a waitress, and Johnny (Damien
Richardson), a short-order cook at the same New York restaurant, stumble into
bed together only to find that their old, emotional wounds open when they try
to communicate genuinely.
The action takes place over
an uninterrupted night in Frankie’s dingy, Manhattan apartment that is
evocatively and realistically recreated in the dim, cellar-like environment of
fortyfivedownstairs (Design by Jacob Battista).
Director, Colette Mann,
focuses on the complex and conflicted inner worlds of these two dysfunctional
people as they navigate the bumpy ocean of new, mid-life love.
Richardson balances annoying
bluster with blokey charm as the nervy, persistent, garrulous Johnny who,
despite being a divorced ex-con estranged from his kids, remains naively
romantic, although a bit too hasty in his declarations of undying love.
Kendall brings a brittle,
suspicious edge to Frankie whose eagerness for Johnny to put on his clothes and
leave her apartment stems from a dysfunctional, past relationship that left her
fearful and emotionally damaged.
The harder Johnny pushes
her to accept that they are soul mates and should marry and have kids, the
faster Frankie backs away.
Richardson and Kendall effectively
explore the playfulness, drama and conflict in McNally’s snappy dialogue and flawed
Mann maintains a cracking
pace in the fierce, funny and audacious early scenes although some of the shouting
matches are too loud and overwhelming while the sudden emotional shifts are not
The final, sweet and
intimate scenes are the most touching when Frankie and Johnny finally find
their common rhythm in the pale, morning light and settle into an amiable,
Clair de Lune of the title refers to Debussy’s soothing, atmospheric music that
triggers a poignant moment when a late-night radio DJ answers Johnny’s request
for a romantic tune.
is a funny and moving performance by two talented, well-known and engaging
Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, until Sunday Nov 15,
2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **** Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Friday Nov 13 and in print. KH
theatre is tantalising, entertaining, ridiculous and often bewildering in the
best possible way. Mad little thing!
marvellously eccentric, charming and mischievous performer has created yet
another stylish, inventive and startling work called Piece For Person and Ghetto Blaster. Yes, the ghetto
blaster is the other actor in the show.
performance is a collision of stylised movement with vivid, direct-to-audience
then restarts a story about a woman who is running by the water in Ghent,
Belgium, when she witnesses a man throwing stones at a sitting duck – I mean, a
real duck sitting on the water.
between her observations and memories of this simple narrative are snatches of
philosophical musings about peace and conflict, violence, morality, goodness
and human nature in general.
There are diversions
into the fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot and his alter ego, David
Suchet, ironic comments about Gunn’s arty friends, acerbic allusions to a
famous, Yugoslavian performance artist and affectionate references to the doomed
lovers in the movie, Brief Encounter.
Gunn is in almost perpetual motion (Choreography by Jo Lloyd), the incongruity
of her movement often creating hilarity and moments of sharp irony or absurdity
as she writhes, cavorts or rages, her exertion making her slick with sweat.
her movement is Kelly Ryall’s evocative, subtle, electronic soundscape emitting
from the onstage, big, fat ghetto blaster.
point of view constantly, moving from the voice of the performer, Gunn, to the
anonymous woman (perhaps also Gunn?), to the stone-throwing man and his two,
She uses rhythmic transitions or
cunning shifts of tone and atmosphere to keep us bemused and amused.
She taunts the audience, tricks and
seduces us, lulls us into a sense of calm until her next outburst of rage about
good and bad or the unknown man and his contemptible stone throwing.
At one point she invades the audience,
climbing over us like a sassy cat, crawling on hands and knees over laps,
perching on seats, resting on people’s shoulders, pulsating and leaving a
Finally, in a mesmerising, technicolour
and unforgettable scene, Gunn inhabits the duck itself, with its cool, sensible,
simple view of the world as it sits quietly amidst an array of moving purple lights (Niklas
Pajanti) that take us into a hypnotic space.
surprises me and tickles my funny bone with every piece of theatre that she
Presented by Arts House and Ridiculusmus
Season: 18 – 22 November 2015
I wll be out of state for this season but it should be amazing. David Wood is unique and Ridiculusmus is one of my favourite companies - ever! See all three shows at Arts House. What a season! KH
David Wood & David Wood in a Box!
'In a kitchen, somewhere in West Wales, a war veteran called Zach has withdrawn
into a box. A friend called Ieuan arrives, offering recovery in the form of
dialogue and a capsule containing '3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. He’s
participated in trials for treating chronic PTSD with psychedelic drugs, and
says he’s cured. What follows soars into a psychoactive dream of
delirium, trauma and supermarket shopping as the two men are parachuted into
their own fractured pasts; their symptoms expressing the pathologies of a
disturbed world. Give Me Your Love is the second instalment of
'Ridiculusmus’s three-pronged investigation into innovative approaches to mental
health. Informed by the latest scientific research, it explores the healing potential
in altered states of consciousness.'
By Brian Lipson
Presented by Arts House and Antechamber Productions
Season: 10 – 22 November 2015
I may not see this but it should be terrific! Brian Lipson is unique. KH
From Media Release:
'EDMUND. THE BEGINNING is both an exercise in distorted biography and a
confessional torrent. Brian Lipson summons a disordered array of characters
from the impatient past and the murky present: some are familiar, some are
famous, some are known only to Lipson. None are comfortable. Fifteen
years ago Lipson’s acclaimed solo show, A Large Attendance in the Antechamber,
won two Green Room Awards before touring the world for the next seven years.
Brian is now considerably older and considerably less wise, but he can still
talk very fast. EDMUND. THE BEGINNING is even more complex than its
predecessor, and each of its many characters is both a real person and an
imaginary figure. But who imagines whom? Who is Whom? Who is Alive? Who is
Dead? And Why? In EDMUND. THE BEGINNING, literary giants, sirens,
reprobates and infants cavort in existential quadrille. A few you will
recognise, others you won’t. All will ring bells.'
By Nicola Gunn Arts House, Nov 11-15, 2015 Hope to see this on Wed Nov 11. K SEE MY REVIEW ON BLOG POSTED NOV 13. K
From Media Release: 'Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster is the story of a man, a woman and a duck. It is about the excruciating realms of human behaviour. It is an attempt to navigate the complexities of trying to become a better person. Preoccupied by how social conventions obstruct the possibility of personal liberation, Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster is a duet between physical action and spoken language, setting up a space for dialogue.
'Calling into question our capacity to make moral judgments and relate to others in an ethical way, the work faces a difficult conclusion: there’s little hope for the future, unless we confront our own responsibilities to make it better. So what if, all together in the auditorium, we create conflict? And what if we create conflict just so we can practice transformation? Commissioned by Mobile States, this riveting new show from subversive creator/performer Nicola Gunn tries to understand how we can all get along.'
Written by Jonathan Tollns Melbourne Theatre Company Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, Nov 5 to Dec 12, 2015I haven't seen this show yet, but it looks good. Ash Flanders is always good value. KH
From Media Release: 'A massive cult hit in New York that went
on to enjoy a sell-out US tour, Buyer and Cellar is a shopaholic’s delight and
an adoring fan letter to Barbra Streisand.' Cast Ash Flanders Director Gary Abrahams Set and Costume Designer Adam
Gardnir Lighting Designer Rachel Burke Composer & Sound Designer THE SWEATS Voice & Dialect Coach Suzanne Heywood
Music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by
David Zippel, book by Larry Gelbart By Life Like Company Playhouse,
Arts Centre Melbourne, until Nov 8, 2015 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars:**** Full review also published online in Herald Sun Arts, Mon Nov 6, 2015 & in print on Sun Nov 8. KH
Chelsea Plumley, Amanda Harrison CREDIT BEN FON
a 1940s, hardboiled detective story in the style of film noir then toss in cheeky
jazz tunes and you have a delicious recipe for the musical, City of Angels.
Cy Coleman wrote the music, Larry Gelbart the book and David Zippel the lyrics,
it’s no wonder this show won multiple Tony, Drama Desk and Olivier Awards after
it premiered on Broadway in 1989.
Martin Croft’s production for Life Like Company boasts a dream cast of
Australian musical theatre talent and, despite having only 2½ weeks to stage
it, the show is deftly directed, beautifully acted and sung.
the technicolour, real world, novelist turned screenwriter, Stine (Anton
Berezin), is adapting his popular, detective story into a movie script for the
interfering but very successful Hollywood producer, Buddy Fidler (Troy
a parallel, black and white, fictional world, Stine’s character, Stone (Kane
Alexander), a hapless private eye who speaks in glib witticisms and abrasive
voiceovers, is employed by manipulative, seductive Alaura Kingsley (Anne Wood)
to find her runaway stepdaughter, Mallory (Hannah Fredericksen).
search all goes wrong for Stone when he crosses his client, her family and the
cops but also for his creator, Stine, as he struggles to please his wife, Gabby
(Chelsea Plumley), the bullying Fidler and also to meet the demands of his
fictional alter ego, Stone.
has a touch of the Orson Welles in his assured performance as the jaded,
lovelorn gumshoe, Stone, and Berezin’s powerful voice brings passion to Stine,
the philandering, deceitful but talented writer.
and Berezin’s voices blend perfectly in their impassioned duet, You’re Nothing
Without Me, and its clever reprise, I’m Nothing Without You, that they sing
is a riot as Fidler, the perfect parody of the greedy, self-interested movie
producer that would sell his mother for a three-movie deal.
highlight is the magnetic Amanda Harrison, with her rich, remarkable voice,
singing You Can Always Count on Me in the duel roles of Oolie, the detective’s
devoted secretary, and Stine’s saucy, real world lover, Donna. Magic!
Bobbi the club singer, Plumley sings a sultry rendition of With Every Breath I
Take, and her duet with Harrison, What You Don’t Know About Women, is sassy and
of Angels stays witty and entertaining while taking a satisfying swipe at
Hollywood artifice and avarice.