28 November 2012

November review previews

Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Desserts
Present Tense and Theatre Works
21 November 2012
Theatre Works 
to 1 December

The Margaret Fulton Cookbook was first published in 1968. I was born in 1968 and in her honour I ensure that I, at least, taste any cake, tart or treat offered to me. Well that's my excuse this week.

Yes, I'm meant to be writing an arty review about Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Desserts, a musical in St Kilda, but I'm reading recipes from her first famous book and want to make some almond cheese rounds or go to St Kilda for cake.

Based on Fulton's autobiography, I sang for my supper, writer Doug McLeod, composer Yuri Worontschak and directors Bryce Ives and Nathan Gilkes have been developing this musical for a few years. In this time they've crafted a story that embraces a fascinating woman who has as many flaws as the rest of us, filled it with nostalgia, told it with love, placed it firmly in the cultural context of now and told it through the emotion capturing magic of music.


It's a chocolate cake with sparklers week of theatre in Melbourne, but I've been hanging out with nonfiction writers at the NONICTIONOW conference at RMIT.

Today I'm going to a panel about literary criticism and listening to artists (like Alison Croggon and Robyn Archer) talk about their writing.

So reviews will be up early next week. So please read all the others, especially those that rave about
Margaret Futon: Queen of the Dessert at Theatre Works (which has already won My Favourite Musical of the year)  and Pompeii. LA at Malthouse  (Just go; I can't talk about it yet).

The exquisitely beautiful Wild Surmise is in its last week, so time to see is running out, while Midsummer has a couple more weeks, but don't risk missing this night of joy.

And the Short and Sweet festival is underway at Chapel Off Chapel and it's the last day of Week 3 of 5Pounds of Rep with Danny Delahuty's The Unnamed. So wish I could squeeze this in, but there isn't a free hour.

The full reviews are at AussieThearte.com and will be published here in a few days.

Wild Surmise
Malthouse Theatre
Beckett Theatre, Malthouse
15 November
to 2 December

Jane Montgomery Griffiths says her adaption of Dorothy Porter's 2004 verse novel Wild Surmise "is an enactment of the act of love that is reading". Until now, I hadn't read Dorothy Porter. I'm nervous of verse novels; I think they're a bit pretentious. How great to be so wrong. This Malthouse production celebrates Porter and compels a reading of the novel, while relishing being told on a stage. 


In a conventional narrative we hear conversations and imagine the unspoken; in verse we hear the unspoken and are left to imagine the awkward conversations that never share the emotional truth and poetry in their hearts and heads.

Montgomery Griffith and Bower speak verse like it's their only language and there's not a syllable uttered without understanding and intent. Their powerful and painfully truthful performances love the text but show what Alex and Daniel feel about each other beyond the words. They don't speak to each other, but are so aware of the other that they react when the other thinks or speaks about them. It's this detail that adds the heart that creates people we care about, even if their behaviour and thoughts are not what we'd chose.



And please read Chris Boyd's review

Red Stitch Actors Theatre
16 November
Red Stitch
to 15 December

It's a tale about 30-something angst with accents, so it has to be in the Red Stitch season – but Midsummer is as welcome and gorgeous as a warm turquoise day under a shady tree with a shamelessly expensive picnic basket with your best friends, and your favourite musician turns up with a guitar.

In 2008 UK writer David Greig composer Gordon Mcintyre created a play with songs that sells out every time it's produced. And, if the outpouring of love from opening night was anything to go by, Red Stitch's production will have to extend. Book now. Just do it. It's pure outrageous joy that will leave the most cynical and single of us a little less cynical.


Melbourne Theatre Company
14 November 2012
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne
to 22 December

Music's another play about middle-aged, wealthy middle class academics who think their lives are empty, so it has to be in the MTC program.

Jack (Richard Piper) is a retired 50- or 90-something academic who has weeks to live, his wife Margie (Janet Andreawartha) doesn't care and has a Schubert recital to prepare for, his doctor and friend Max (Paul English) is shagging Margie and asking Jack for feedback on his short stories, and Jack's brother Peter (Robert Menzies) is a miserable Catholic priest who hasn't seen Jack in three years. There's ranting about the dumbing down of the English department, affairs, grief over a child, the accidental description of the quilt from a lover's marital bed in the writing given to the cuckolded husband, and everyone decides that it's time to tell the truth about things that really don't matter when you or someone you sorta like has days to live.

As Billy Connolly describes dull folk as beige wearers, Music wears a beige elastic-waisted fleece pant with a matching cardi.


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