Doing the time warp, again: Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show

The Rocky Horror Show is a phenomenon bordering on a cult, which first sprang to life in 1973 in London, and the following year in Sydney. A mash-up of science-fiction and horror tropes, and gleefully set firmly within the tradition of the rock’n’roll musical, the Rocky Horror Show now rocks back into Sydney’s Lyric theatre in this 40th anniversary production. Despite the glitz and glamour with which it struts about the stage in its glittering stilettos, it feels tired, old, and more than a little bit more camp than it should be.


Slumdog millionaires: National Theatre’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers (NTLive)

Better known for his political plays, British playwright David Hare has turned to Katherine Boo’s account of life under a Mumbai flight path in Behind the Beautiful Forevers to create an epic piece of theatre, whose scale and integrity is clearly defined at the outset and maintained throughout. And while its story is compelling, it lacks the strong emotional pull which is so present in some of Hare’s other plays, the hook which would make us care more about the plight of these characters, these people.


Capital cabaret: STC’s Boys will be boys

Two years ago, Melissa Bubnic’s award-winning play Beached burst onto the Griffin theatre stage in a whirlwind of dreams, desires, and realities, and even though it was furiously entertaining it still made you pause for thought. Her latest play, Boys will be boys, has been produced by the Sydney Theatre Company, and like Beached, applies her trademark brand of theatrical blowtorch to the world of finance, brokers, and corporate manipulation. And it is quite a ride.


Blunt instruments: Arts Radar & Griffin Independent’s Five Properties of Chainmale

Nicholas Hope’s Five Properties of Chainmale is described as a “confronting, uncomfortable and comical” examination of “modern man [as he] grapples with his crumbling reflection.” Despite the clumsy title, you could be forgiven for expecting a provocative and thought-provoking piece of theatre. What we get instead is clumsy, rather blunt, and dramaturgically confused, and never quite works out what it is trying to say.


Young and restless: STC and MTC’s Jumpy

April de Angelis’ Jumpy is a strange play. At once about Hilary approaching fifty and the impending sense of a mid-life crisis that follows her around, it also follows Hilary’s relationship with her often-wayward fifteen-year-old daughter Tilly, and the accompanying dramas, struggles, and battles which seem to follow her around. Claimed to be “the funniest new play the West End has seen in ages” when it premiered in London in 2012, it comes across here as blunt, unsubtle, and coarse, and it makes for a rather long and tedious two-and-a-half hours of theatre.

Letters from the front: Ensemble’s The ANZAC Project

As the Western world bands together to commemorate the various centenaries of the First World War, there is any number of concerts, plays, books, films, television series and CDs to mark the occasion. To mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landing, the Ensemble theatre is staging The ANZAC Project, a double-bill of two new plays, which looks at the event and asks ‘what does it mean to us, now, here, today?’ Ensemble theatre is not alone in asking these questions, but perhaps we should all be taking a leaf out of these umpteen commemorations and asking ourselves ‘why is this military failure so celebrated?’
The ANZAC Project is comprised of two new plays – ‘Dear Mum and Dad’, by Geoffrey Atherden, in which a woman discovers a letter from her great-grandfather and learns of his experiences during World War I; and ‘Light Begins To Fade’, by Vanessa Bates, in which several stories intertwine, not least a group of television writers trying to find their way to tell the story of the Gallipoli landing, and the wider issues it opens up. While united in theme and idea, these plays work in very different ways and, ultimately, Bates’ is the more successful, the more theatrical.


STC's Endgame

Samuel Beckett is revered as an absurdist avant-garde writer and playwright whose works frequently break with the conventions of the time and forge new paths through the literary landscape. Perhaps most well-known for Waiting for Godot, his work offers a dismally bleak and darkly tragicomic outlook on life, but try as we might now to bring a freshness to these sixty-year-old plays, it feels like Beckett’s original relevance is now wearing thin and that these works are starting to show their age.
Premiered in 1957, Endgame famously stars Hamm (a man who is blind and cannot stand), his servant Clov (who is unable to sit), and his parents Nell and Nagg (who are both legless, and live in garbage bins). Bound as each of them are to their positions on stage, the play has a certain staticness to it, a caged-in-ness to it, whereby nobody can move, no one can leave, and the only way out is death. It is undeniably nihilistic in its view of the world, and it makes for gruelling viewing.