ItemShift of Wind Needed Before Pinafore Sails. "HMS Pinafore" by Gilbert and Sullivan. Carl Rosa Company. Her Majesty's Theatre [review](The Australian, 2004-11-08) Bramwell, Murray RossThe Carl Rosa Opera Company occupied a distinguished part of English operatic history from its establishment in 1873 through to the late 1950s. It presented the first English productions of Carmen, Lohengrin and Aida and would have staged the works of Gilbert and Sullivan had the D’Oyly Carte company not got their hands on them first. Now, 131 years later, under artistic director Peter Mulloy, a new Carl Rosa Company is staging Gilbert and Sullivan with an attention to authenticity that is Gilbertian in its detail - even using sets, props and costumes once owned by D’Oyly Carte. ItemThe Power of Two Funny Men. "The Pleasure of Their Company" by Shaun Micallef and Glynn Nicholas. The Arts Theatre [review](The Adelaide Review, 2005-04-01) Bramwell, Murray RossThere have been plenty of comedy double acts in recent times - HG and Roy, John Clarke and Bryan Dawe, Mick Molloy and Tony Martin, to name just a few. But, on first glance, Glynn Nicholas and Shaun Micallef seem an unlikely combination. For a start, Nicholas has forged a very successful career as a solo comic with a memorable range of signature characters and impressive physical skills. Shaun Micallef, on the other hand, has for some time featured in television - in sketch comedy, the sitcom Welcher and Welcher and with a Tonight Show whose demise, many thought, had more to do with ratings panic than any lack of merit. ItemVictim of Digressions. "Frozen" by Bryony Lavery. State Theatre Company of South Australia. Space Theatre [review](The Adelaide Review, 2005-07-22) Bramwell, Murray RossWhenever we wonder about the nature of human nature we invariably turn to criminal behaviour, especially that of predatory serial killers, for speculation and explanation. Are such crimes, especially against children, proof of the existence of evil, or are they manifestations of derangement and illness ? And how do our judicial processes - and our personal moral reckonings - deal with such events ? In the face of such horrors can we - or should we - forgive ? This is the perilous territory of Bryony Lavery’s "Frozen". ItemA Last Hurrah. "Nixon's Nixon" by Russell Lees. P&S Productions in association with Arts Projects Australia. Dunstan Playhouse [review](The Adelaide Review, 2003-03) Bramwell, Murray RossPlaywright Russell Lees is at pains to point out that Nixon’s Nixon is a fiction, a speculation of what might have transpired in a lengthy meeting between the President and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger on the night before Nixon announced his resignation and was air lifted to ignominy in California. ItemRepressed Memory. "Back to My Roots and Other Suckers" by Barry Humphries. Her Majesty's Theatre [review](The Adelaide Review, 2003-07) Bramwell, Murray RossBack to the roots for Humphries, and much of his audience, means back to suburban memory- of brand names, street names and the sounds and mnemonic smells of Times Past. These times, when they constituted the Present for Barry Humphries as a young and impatient bohemian, signified a stultifying world of trivia and small-minded gentility. It was the world of his parents and part of the dreary trade-off for post-war prosperity. Here was the original version of Relaxed and Comfortable - Edna, Sandy and the Herald waiting on the front lawn. ItemVoices in an Awkward Pitch. "Projections 1" by Peter Finlay, "Blowing It" by Stephen Papps and Stephen Sinclair, and "Festival of One" Bakehouse Theatre. [review](The Adelaide Review, 2004-08) Bramwell, Murray RossThe Festival of One monodrama series has been a fixture at the Bakehouse for a number of years now. Previously, it ran in November but artistic director, Peter Green has, this year, divided it into three seasons in May, July and September. Series Two brings back actor Peter Finlay, well-known to State Theatre and Red Shed audiences, and New Zealand actor, Stephen Papps, returning with a show previously performed in the 2000 Adelaide Fringe. ItemSons of the Father. "The Duck Shooter" by Marty Denniss. Brink Productions and the State Theatre Company South Australia [review](The Adelaide Review, 2004-08-15) Bramwell, Murray RossBrink Productions did a good thing encouraging Marty Denniss to revise for the stage his script of the Australian feature film "Erskineville Kings". Cinema’s gain has also been the theatre’s and the result is "The Duck Shooter". In this, often harsh play, Denniss follows the fortunes, or otherwise, of a group of young men. ItemA New Director and A New Direction. "Adam Cook, State Theatre Company's Artistic Director for 2005, Removes the Veil".(The Adelaide Review, 2004-11-12) Bramwell, Murray RossIt is midday on a Friday and the crowd is gathered in the Dunstan Playhouse for the launch of the State Theatre Company’s 2005 season. There’s the usual mix of subscribers, sponsors, arts heavies and media, as well as actors, techs, artisans, luvvies and hopefuls, all with plenty say about what should happen next for State Theatre, Adelaide and, of course, themselves. And this year, all eyes are on new Artistic Director, Adam Cook. ItemBeat the Bourgeoisie. "Drums in the Night" by Bertolt Brecht. Brink Productions and State Theatre Company of South Australia [review](The Australian, 2005-04-06) Bramwell, Murray RossUsing a cabaret setting, director Chris Drummond, designer Gaelle Mellis and a fine cast give us essence of Weimar but with a convincingly contemporary style and a text that captures current vernacular without drowning in it. Brecht’s scathing satire of the beastly bourgeois is hilariously evident when Balicke the war profiteer (Michael Habib) sounds off at dinner to his wife (Jacqy Phillips) and son-in-law to be, Murk (William Allert) - the complacent exchanges rendered incomprehensible as they stuff their mouths with food. It is like a George Gross cartoon and as familiar as South Park. ItemA Case of Mistaken Identity. "The Government Inspector" by Nikolai Gogol. State Theatre South Australia [review](The Adelaide Review, 2005-03-17) Bramwell, Murray RossFor State Theatre’s contribution to Come Out and as a spritzy opening to the 2005 season, newly arrived Artistic Director Adam Cook has assembled a talented cast to stage an energetic revival of a European classic. The Government Inspector, Gogol’s tangled tale of mistaken identity and civic corruption offers plenty of chances for funny business and Cook makes the most of his opportunities. ItemBack From the Dead. "Drums in the Night" by Bertolt Brecht. Brink Productions and State Theatre Company South Australia [review](The Adelaide Review, 2005-04-14) Bramwell, Murray Ross"Drums in the Night", written in the early 1920s when the playwright himself was only just out of his teens, has many of the elements of the later, more famous works. Featuring a simple, fable-like plot, satiric comment on corrupt power and served with a mix of music, songs and comic banter, this turbulent drama tells the story of Andreas Kragler, a soldier in the First World War, who comes back from the dead to find Anna, his betrothed, is about to marry Murk (William Allert), an opportunist young cad who is keenly currying favour with her father, Herr Balicke, (Michael Habib) a war profiteer and all-round class villain. ItemUntiring Courage. "Weary" by Alan Hopgood. Dunstan Playhouse [review](The Adelaide Review, 2005-04-29) Bramwell, Murray RossSir Edward “Weary” Dunlop waited more than forty years before he turned the scattered notes of his wartime diaries into publishable form. Recorded in dreadful circumstances while he was a prisoner of the Japanese, first in camps in Java and then along the Burma-Thailand Railway, they now stand as one of the most remarkable documents of World War II. In "Weary", playwright Alan Hopgood has astutely recognised the intrinsic drama of Dunlop’s own narrative and in so doing, served his subject well. ItemStepping Up at the Bakehouse. "One Small Step" by Heather Nimmo. Bakehouse Theatre [review](Adelaide Review, 2005-05-13) Bramwell, Murray Ross"One Small Step" has been developed from "Boots", a short play for workplaces developed for the redoubtable Junction Theatre Company. In its present form it has had seasons in Perth for the Western Australian Theatre Company and, in this Bakehouse production (lightly directed by Catherine Fitzgerald with discreetly apt sound and lighting by Lauren Pittwood and Christian Donoghue) the solo performer is Petra Schulenburg, who gives us a zesty Regina, banging her head against the world, sometimes her own worst enemy but, most often, resourceful, resilient and strong spirited. Schulenburg also brings at least a dozen other characters as Nimmo’s text populates the stage with the significant others in her sometimes insignificant life. It is a staunch performance but the shifts of mood (and voice) are a big ask and at times I worried for the safety of the actor’s vocal cords. ItemA Night of Crime and Punishment. "Shakespeare's Villains" by Steven Berkoff. Festival Theatre [review](Adelaide Review, 2005-03-04) Bramwell, Murray RossIn the polite world of English theatre Steven Berkoff has always been the bad boy, and, even at sixty eight, he is still a bit of a lad. We owe much to him - for the turbulent rough magic of "East", for the curdled wit of his play Decadence, for the outrageousness of his "Salome" and the camp guignol he has brought to a posse of Hollywood baddies. But this time around, with his solo investigation into "Shakespeare’s Villains", Steven Berkoff trades innovation for self-indulgence and instead of illuminating such scheming subjects as Iago and Macbeth, he mires them in flippancy and flappy pantomime. ItemRunning on Empty. "Sweet Road" by Debra Oswald. State Theatre South Australia and Playbox [review](Adelaide Review, 2000-10) Bramwell, Murray RossLife, as everyone from your aromatherapist to your personal trainer will tell you, is a journey. We are all out there, pounding away on the four lane black top. That is, when we are not cruising the information superhighway or moping about the road not taken. In popular culture the open vista has beckoned everyone from Jack Kerouac to Toad of Toad Hall, Hopper and Fonda to Thelma and Louise. In every second Australian film for the past twenty five years someone has cranked up the HJ and headed off through the bulldust. They have travelled with estranged parents, psychopaths, country singers and wind-jammering transvestites. Mel Gibson tried it three times, Harvey Keitel less successfully once. Motoring the wide brown land- essential, of course, if you want to get from A to B, let alone Perth or Darwin- has become one of the well-worn tropes of Australian narrative. Which brings us to Debra Oswald’s "Sweet Road", a gridlock of stories of flight and arrival, of lives stalled and then, strike me lucky, set in motion again by the RAA of fate and the jumper leads of destiny. ItemA Play in Inverted Commas. "The Taming of the Shrew" by William Shakespeare. State Theatre South Australia [review](Adelaide Review, 2000-12) Bramwell, Murray RossThere is nothing else in all of Shakespeare that has caused the sort of qualms that "The Taming of the Shrew" has over the past twenty years or so. The subduing of the fiery Katherina by her mocking suitor Petruchio and the proofs of her obedience in the final scene have not been welcome spectacles in a time when equality between the sexes and recognition of the entitlement of women has been a central issue in both the private and the public sphere. The fact that the last high profile presentation of the text was in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1967 film with those well-known marital neanderthals Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor playing the leads, only proved the point that this is a play better left out of sight. Look elsewhere for lively women - Rosalind in "As You Like It", Beatrice in "Much Ado", Viola in "Twelfth Night". Let them be cross-dressed, let them be assertive, let them marry if they must. But never let them obey. ItemEnd of Seasoning. "Salt" by Peta Murray. State Theatre Company [review](Adelaide Review, 2002-12)The State Theatre slogan for 2003 promises to spice up our lives. In fact the culinary metaphor already applies. For their final production this year the company has chosen "Salt", a work by Peta Murray about mothers, daughters, and food, food and more food. ItemThe Cost of Living. "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller. State Theatre Company [review](Adelaide Review, 2004-09) Bramwell, Murray RossWhen Arthur Miller wrote "Death of a Salesman" in a six week rush in the spring of 1948 his ambition was to write a play about the tragic fall of an ordinary man. He called his protagonist ‘Loman’ just to underline the point. But his play - subtitled "Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem" - reads as more than a quibble with Aristotle’s definition of the genre. In the fifty- something years since the play first astonished New York audiences, "Death of a Salesman" has only grown in stature as the forces Miller describes have become more apparent and the tribulations of the Loman family more painfully recognisable. ItemCombat Zone. "Third World Blues" by David Williamson. State Theatre Company [review](Adelaide Review, 2001-03) Bramwell, Murray RossFor an artist to return to a finished work and then revise it, is rarely a simple matter. So when, in 1997, David Williamson went back to his 1972 script "Jugglers Three" and reworked it, he again raised interesting questions about the creative process. In negotiation with Sydney Theatre Company director Wayne Harrison, Williamson not only overhauled the text of "Jugglers Three" he even re-instated its original, somewhat cryptic title, "Third World Blues". ItemMontana of the Mind. "A Lie of the Mind" by Sam Shepherd. Brink Productions [review](The Australian, 2001-11-30) Bramwell, Murray RossBrink have brought us a strong production -all three hours of it. Shepard’s play is a saga of individuals struggling to understand themselves in the mirror of those they have spent their lives with. They are also searching other terrain - the Montana of their own minds, and the impediments they have created there.