Di and Viv and Rose

Well, MTC’s production of Di and Viv and Rose deals with what seems to be almost  the full range of issues that three women can have – then nearly at the end, when you think it’s coming to an end, there’s a “but wait, there’s more” moment!

It seems that the play is structured to serve the issues up and “deal” with them.  The Herald-Sun review referred to the “unsatisfying plot development”, which resonated with me.  It’s as though the issues drive the play, that it’s just there as a vehicle to hang the issues on, rather than the other way around.    Just the same, the Herald-Sun review liked the acting (agreed), and on this basis, the play was definitely worth seeing.

However,  this comes with a plea to MTC -we struggled sometimes to hear parts of the dialogue.  Yes, I know, we’re old and our hearing isn’t as acute as it may have been in our younger days, but it’s not too bad and is certainly still fine for day-to-day purposes.   And, dear MTC, we’re rather typical of your audience!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

What wonderful entertainment:  adventure, eccentric characters, enterprising children, baddies, a little romance and a car that swims and flies!    It’s all in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Babirra’s production with a total cast of 37 plus a few dogs as well as 14 in the orchestra delivered in spades.

It’s based on a book by Ian Fleming that was subsequently made into a movie.  The car of course has James Bond-like features!

All the cast gave strong performances, and while it’s a bit unfair to single out Michelle Eddington as Truly Scrumptious (because the part itself invites admiration!), I was amazed to read in the program that apart from school productions (and a life long love for music),  this appears to have been her first major role!    And everything else came together, too:   the movement of the car (enhanced by the bold use of projection), the choreography, the costumes, the sets and a polished finale.

 

Macbeth

Of course, there are layers and layers of interpretations and deeper meanings in  Shakespeare’s text, but it’s been so long since I last saw Macbeth (bearing in mind that the first time I encountered Macbeth was at school), I had to re-absorb MTC’s production at a fairly superficial level.    Hence I sometimes missed the more subtle twists and turns in this rather blood-thirsty production, but even so, the big picture is clear enough!

The fascination of watching people do something that they know to be wrong, seeing them come unstuck, with the added spice of unlikely premonitions, is a theme that can be applied across the ages, and here the sets, props and costumes are very contemporary.

I thought it worked quite well for the most part, although I’m still wondering about the opening scene of the witches meeting in a Scottish style bus shelter!    On the other hand, there are lines that are familiar;  who can ever forget “Double, double toil and trouble;   Fire burn and caldron bubble”?

However, the Fairfax review struggled with aspects of the production, especially the cuts in the dialogue to achieve a running time of just under two hours (imagine, a Shakespeare play with no interval!).   The News Corp review   made some interesting points, too.

 Just the same, Shakespeare’s dialogue, the strength of the themes and the quality of the acting made this a fascinating evening (and an improvement on MTC’s Queen Lear a few years ago).

Godspell

We went to Nova Music Theatre’s production of Godspell.  A 17-member cast gave an impressive performance.  Interestingly, I see that the usual cast size is 10, but of course a non-professional company has more flexibility in this regard in that they can “afford”  a larger cast!

It’s a rock musical, so the orchestra consists of keyboards, guitars and percussion.

For some reason, I’ve never previously seen Godspell, so its approach was new to me.   It’s basically a sequence of Biblical parables, mostly from Matthew, but three from Luke.  I can certainly understand how it is that its treatment of the Passion of Christ, which after all is at the core of the Christian belief, is controversial, especially in that there is no obvious Resurrection present.   This of course is only one of the numerous departures from the Biblical “script”.  The costumes (traditionally “hippie garb”), too, have apparently been the subject of comment.

I didn’t allow these issues to interfere with my enjoyment of the show, but I wouldn’t want anyone to think that it represents what Christianity is all about. Continue reading “Godspell”

Minnie & Liraz

There are a couple of “messages” in there, but basically MTC’s Minnie & Liraz is a light-hearted night out.    The story revolves around two bridge-playing grandmothers in a care facility who engage in some match-making between their respective grandchildren.   The capacity audience at the Fairfax appreciated the numerous one-liners, and the “tensions” between the characters maintained our interest.  However, I do admit that at interval we asked what possible “twist” could occur in the second half, but in due course we were rewarded with a couple of  unexpected turns in events.

I agree with this review that there’s a bit of “clutter” in the script, along with what seemed to me to be an over-use of the revolving stage (for example, perhaps the spectators at the bridge competition could have sat on the other side of the stage, rather than in a separate scene?), but these weren’t serious concerns for me.

Maigret sets a trap

I really like Georges Simenon’s writing.  Now Channel 2 have started a series of Maigret detective shows.

“Mr Bean” (Rowan Atkinson) plays Maigret!    Somehow, I would never have connected Mr Bean with Maigret, so this aspect felt a little odd, but I got used to it.   Nor would I have picked the location where the program was made as being Budapest (and Szentendrea, just out of Budapest), but it did seem to achieve the desired effect of giving the feel of Paris in the early 1950s.  I also had misgivings about the up-market English accents, but someone told me that, in French, the Parisian accent is rather “proper”, so in a way the use of an equivalent English accent wasn’t out of place.

As said above, I really like Simenon’s writing, especially the “mental” aspects of his stories, and although TV adaptions often don’t reflect the essence of the written works, I felt that this wasn’t an issue here and in fact this show captured Simenon’s writing very well.   The fact that the show lasted 90 minutes allowed adequate time for this to occur.

Unfortunately, from what I can see in the Wikipedia entry, there are only four episodes in the series.  I’ll be looking out for the remaining episodes.

 

Born Yesterday

The producers of MTC’s Born Yesterday must have found it hard to resist a a direct referent to Donald Trump, because there are certainly  resonances to today’s world  in it.    The scene is post World War 2 Washington DC and the theme is “getting the deal done”.   A tycoon moves to Washington DC to use his money to influence politics and politicians, accompanied by his “dumb blonde” mistress (Billie).  He thinks she needs to improve her mind, and arranges for this to occur.  However, the inevitable result is that she wakes up to him

img_0069It’s all light-hearted and entertaining.   A minor issue for me was that it took most of the first act to really get moving.   The second act moves along more satisfactorily.

The Age liked  Christie Whelan Browne as Billie but was a bit harsh on the rest of the cast, I thought.   This review was a bit kinder, and I think more in line with the production we saw..