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.
Written by Robert
Stigwood assisted by Bill Oates, featuring songs by The Bee Gees and others, produced
by StageArt Chapel
off Chapel, until Feb 28, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Feb 13 Stars:***1/2 NB The writer's credit (above-Stigwood) is taken from the program for this production. It does not match the credits for the original stage production. KH
Mike Snell as Tony Manero
Fever celebrates infectious, hip-thrusting 1970s disco music but also reveals a
grim underworld that lies beneath the shiny nightlife of disenfranchised youth
in Brooklyn, New York in 1979.
directed by Robbie Carmellotti, is based on the West End revival (2013-14) that
incorporates dialogue and songs from the 1977 John Travolta movie of the same
name, simplifies the set design and features the dancers playing instruments.
great strengths of this production are Luke Alleva’s sweltering, disco
choreography, The Bee Gees unbeatable disco hits and the thrilling harmonies and rousing
chorus arrangements by musical director, Tony
repertoire include Gibb brothers’ tunes, Jive Talkin’, Stayin’ Alive, You
Should Be Dancing, Night Fever, More Than a Woman, but also the pulsating Disco Inferno (The
Trammps) and Boogie Shoes (K.C. and The Sunshine Band).
Tony Manero (Mike Snell), Italian
stallion heartthrob and disco dance king at Brooklyn’s 2001
Odyssey Nightclub, is obsessed by winning the club’s disco dance competition to cement his
reputation as Brooklyn’s best dancer and prove to his parents and himself that
he is not a bad-boy ‘loser’.
Snell is an accomplished dancer with
a tuneful, upper register that suits the peppy, disco style and he captures Tony’s
audacity and vulnerability, although he lacks the smooth sensuality and
machismo of Travolta’s Tony.
THEATRE By Duncan Macmillan, Melbourne Theatre
Company At Fairfax
Studio, Art Centre Melbourne, until March 19, 2016
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Feb 11, 2016 Stars:****
Kate Atkinson, Bert LaBonté, Pic Jeff Busby
couples can be sufficiently fraught even without the added stress of making
decisions about the wisdom or ethical considerations of bringing a child into
an over-populated and polluted world.
Duncan Macmillan’s play, Lungs, we witness an apparently secure,
loving couple (Kate Atkinson, Bert LaBonté) confronting their various hopes and
fears about conceiving and bearing, let alone raising a child.
When the man (LaBonté) tentatively raises the idea of a baby, his
partner (Atkinson) firstly questions the appropriateness of starting this
conversation in IKEA, then pours out her suppressed anxieties and ethical
dilemmas about putting more children on the planet.
As this smart, modern, hipster couple, Atkinson and
LaBonté (two of my favourite Australian actors) are simultaneously adorable and
annoying, hilarious and tragic, believable and impassioned.
They deliver Macmillan’s whip-smart, rapid-fire dialogue with
impeccable comic and dramatic timing, commitment and an intense connection and collaboration
as the couple.
As the highly educated, nervy and maddening woman, Atkinson
vibrates with electric energy as she yammers anxiously and unremittingly,
leaving LaBonté’s quieter, more circumspect, slower-reacting partner unable to
interject, make his point or even think straight while she rants.
By Penelope Skinner, by Red
Stitch Actors’ Theatre Red
Stitch Actors’ Theatre, until March 5, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Feb 7 Stars: **1/2
Ella Caldwell & Matt Dyktynski Photo Jodie Hutchinson
The title of The Village Bike does refer to a bicycle
for getting around an English village, but you’d be right in thinking it also refers
to a woman who spreads her sexual favours around town.
Playwright, Penelope Skinner, may be called a ‘leading,
young, feminist writer’ in the UK, but this play seems to celebrate much that is
the antithesis of feminism.
Caldwell) is a young, newly pregnant schoolteacher living in an English
village with her annoyingly doting husband John (Richard Davies) who, to Becky’s increasing and hormone-fuelled
frustration, now avoids sex with his wife in case it harms the baby – or Becky.
When John repels her advances, Becky first assuages
her physical desires by watching pornography then starts to look longingly at
Mike (Syd Brisbane), the daggy plumber, and Oliver (Matt Dyktynski), the bloke who arrives to sell her a bicycle.
As her sexual needs take over, she becomes reckless
and dives headlong into – well – let’s call it ‘bike riding’.
The production, directed by Red Stitch ensemble
member, Ngaire Dawn Fair, has a frenetic
energy that overwhelms the dialogue, characters and even the messages about the
battle between individualism and fidelity, conformity and freedom.
Parts of the second half of
the show are less frantic as Becky indulges her desires, seduces a couple of
the locals and seems happier at home with her husband – for a while.
Although Skinner gives them some funny dialogue and
interactions riddled with expletives, her characters are two-dimensional and
dislikable and, while she deals explicitly and graphically with issues of
sexuality, her exploration of desire, love and freedom lacks depth and subtlety.
Caldwell immerses herself in the fraught world of Becky but
she plays her with a relentless, disturbing and, ultimately, distracting edge
of desperation that blocks any sympathy or understanding of her psychological
Book & Lyrics by Bruce Joel Rubin, Music & Lyrics by
Dave Stewart & Glen Ballard
Based on the 1990 movie, Ghost, by Bruce Joel Rubin Regent
Theatre, Melbourne, until March 13, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ****
Rob Mills & Jemma Rix
a spectacular display of technical wizardry, tear-jerking songs and tragic
romance, Ghost The Musical exploded onto the stage at the Regent Theatre last
night to an enthusiastic, opening night crowd.
Joel Rubin’s book is a theatrical re-imagining of his Oscar-winning screenplay
for the 1990 movie, Ghost, but it is Matthew Warchus’ inventive direction that
makes this production remarkable by bringing together comic and tragic narrative
threads, characters, original songs and startling illusions.
fantasy romance set in New York City, explores the powerful emotional
connection that links lovers, Sam Wheat (Rob Mills), a banker, and Molly Jensen
(Jemma Rix), a sculptor, even after Sam’s death.
a romantic dinner, Sam and Molly are mugged and Sam dies of his injuries but he
remains caught in the netherworld between life and afterlife trying to
communicate the truth about his murder to the grieving Molly.
Stewart (of Eurythmics’ fame) and Glen Ballard’s songs reveal the characters’
inner worlds in a repertoire of styles ranging from power ballads to pop and
rock, blues, soul and gospel, all played by a tight, seven-piece band.
Molly is a sincere, sympathetic character and Rix’s expressive voice, bright
timbre and impressive control and vocal range bring emotional depth to the
heart-wrenching song, With You, and to Suspend My Disbelief and Nothing Stops
voice blends enchantingly with Mills’ warm tones in memorable love duets
including Here Right Now, Three Little Words and their final reprise of Unchained
Melody (by Hy Zaret, Alex North), the song that featured in the movie’s famous
pottery wheel scene.
Adapted by Carolyn Burns from screenplay
by Ernest Lehman (film by Alfred Hitchcock) Produced by Andrew Kay &
Liz McLean State
Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, until Feb 13, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Mon Feb 1 Stars: ****
Matt Day & Amber McMahon
Hitchcock’s North By Northwest is a witty chase movie blended with aspy thriller and a naughty romance and this stage
adaptation successfully captures its tone and style.
Burns’ clever script adaptation and Simon Phillips inventive direction create a
deliciously entertaining and often goofy production that is a shrewd merging of
cinematic and theatrical techniques.
production is exciting, funny, imaginative and seamlessly directed by Phillips
and is staged on a flexible, abstract set of stark, metal scaffolding (Simon
Phillips, Nick Schlieper) that provides multiple locations when combined with
cinematic rear projections.
a case of mistaken identity, Roger O. Thornhill (Matt
innocent but rakish advertising executive, is wrongly accused of murder and flees
New York pursued by a ruthless spy, Phillip Vandamm (Matt Hetherington), who is
smuggling government secrets out of the country.
script balances the saucy suggestiveness of Hitchock’s style with original
screenwriter Ernest Lehman’s acerbic dialogue, wry and playful humour and more
privileged and smug Thornhill echoes but does not imitate Cary Grant as he wryly
delivers the abundant smart-alec quips, and he embodies some of Grant’s easy
elegance, sense of entitlement and safe
sensuality that is more cheeky than provocative.