September Theatre Reviews

September is upon us & that means Sydney Fringe Festival season has begun. There’s a load of fantastic theatre in town, both in the Fringe program and independently.

The Bookbinder – Trick of the Light Theatre – Better Read Than Dead

This captivating fairy tale style story just charmed the pants of me. First of all you walk into the Better Read Than Dead bookstore, which is teeming with people all apparently browsing for night time book purchases. You then explore all the way to the very back of the store, and up two flights of stairs (which I can’t remember ever having been there before??), finally emerging in the tiny performance space. The entire story was told from table top, using the beautifully crafted pages of a pop up book, shadow puppets in a lamp, book binder tools and other paraphernalia to tell the tale. The story was fast paced, comical and magical, well told by the solo performer who carried several characters and the narration with ease. A very pleasant family oriented show, with a tight structure and lots of fun!

The show opens in Melbourne on Friday – don’t miss it!

The God of Hell – Sam Shepard – The Old Fitz

This production is truly chilling. Upon conclusion I heard a woman in front of us say “I feel sick”, and I have to agree with her. Written in the lead up to the 2004 US elections, this play is still very relevent and shows us that fear and reality has not changed much in the last ten years. This production really brings to life all the deeply chilling undertones that the text conveys. Bundled in with a beautiful set and fantastic casting and performances from the four actors, especially Vanessa Downing – who has always been a charismatic support recently but was excellent & shone in the  lead role. the show was intriguing, engrossing and…grossing.

Unfortunately the season concluded on Sunday.

Oedipus Rex – Adena Jacobs – Belvoir

Intellectuals will tell you this fantastic production is “profoundly moving”, “finely crafted” & “powerful, dangerous, beautiful”. The reviews have been very positive and  the season in Belvoir’s downstairs venue has been extended. The light, sound design and visual vignettes are striking and emotive. The lead performances are both captivating and intense. The scene is set during Oedipus’ old age, long after the adventures he had during the epic play with which most of us will be familiar. Unfortunately, not a great deal of exciting things happen to the elderly Oedipus, aside from some bitter banter with his daughter and a very long scene where the naked old man is bathed. A great watch if you’re into that kind of thing.

Runs until September 21st

Sun – Hofesh Shechter – Sydney Opera House

Wow. Just wow. This is contemporary dance at its best – funny, emotive, beautiful. This production really blew me away. The design was fun, and playful but also a kind of classy. Th choreography was exciting and dynamic, shifting from distorted folk dance to twisted contemporary to the kind of thing you might want to join in with. The choreographer is Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Hofesh Shechter and it was real pleasure to see his work tour to Australia. It was also really fantastic to see a well funded work that could afford a large ensemble dance company and all the impact that it can summon.  The design was full and lush and loud. You could really get lost in this rich production. Aside from a slightly hypocritical didactic undertone towards the end, the production is captivating from start to finish.

Unfortunately the season has concluded but highly recommended to anyone if it comes back for another season.

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