The Weekend Australian - Review - - Theatre -

Aus­tralia’s per­form­ing arts don’t pack up over the sum­mer, and some­times a cool, dark the­atre is the perfect es­cape from a beat­ing sun. Here are just a few of the many and var­ied the­atre, opera and dance works on across the coun­try.

Syd­ney the­atre­go­ers have the chance to see the vis­ceral Prize Fighter by Con­golese refugee Fu­ture D. Fidel, de­vel­oped at La Boite in Bris­bane, about a child sol­dier who flees to Aus­tralia and be­comes a pro­fes­sional boxer (Jan­uary 7-22 at Belvoir).

For those who like their Shake­speare with an edge, the Rus­sian-lan­guage Mea­sure for Mea­sure from Cheek by Jowl and Moscow’s Pushkin The­atre prom­ises a trip right out­side the com­fort zone (Jan­uary 7-11 at Ros Packer The­atre). Di­rected by De­clan Don­nel­lan, it was called “a shat­ter­ing por­trait of con­tem­po­rary Rus­sia” by No­vaya Gazeta.

By con­trast, Mel­bourne The­atre Com­pany’s Born Yes­ter­day (Jan­uary 19-Fe­bru­ary 25 at South­bank The­atre) prom­ises Broad­way glam­our by the oo­dle. In Gar­son Kanin’s 1946 com­edy, a thug­gish ty­coon hires a jour­nal­ist to give his girl­friend some gloss, hop­ing this will help him bribe a con­gress­man — big mis­take.

On the opera stage, the dou­ble bill of Pi­etro Mascagni’s Caval­le­ria Rus­ti­cana and Rug­gero Leon­cav­allo’s Pagli­acci is an emo­tional feast of for­bid­den love, jeal­ousy, honour and vi­o­lence, with at least two num­bers — the Easter Hymn and Vesti la giubba — guar­an­teed to bring goose­bumps. This Royal Opera House-Opera Aus­tralia co-pro­duc­tion (Jan­uary 12-Fe­bru­ary 4 at the Syd­ney Opera House, then at Arts Cen­tre Mel­bourne, May 10-20) in­ter­twines the two sto­ries set in an Ital­ian vil­lage in the 1980s.

On a more bib­li­cal scale, Bar­rie Kosky di­rects Han­del’s Saul — the epic or­a­to­rio about the king of Is­rael, his sour­ing re­la­tion­ship with David and his even­tual down­fall — in a Glynde- bourne Fes­ti­val Opera pro­duc­tion exclusive to Ade­laide (Fes­ti­val The­atre, March 3-9).

For pure en­chant­ment, Vic­to­rian Opera is putting on the rarely pro­duced Sleep­ing Beauty by Ot­torino Re­spighi, writ­ten in 1922. The pro­duc­tion will fea­ture emerg­ing vo­cal tal­ent and, true to the com­poser’s vi­sion, a cast of pup­pets, de­signed by Joe Blanck (March 11-18 at Arts Cen­tre Mel­bourne, later tour­ing to Ho­bart).

Dance over sum­mer is ask­ing a big ques­tion: why should paint­ings have all the fun? To ac- Clock­wise from left, Lucy Crowe in Han­del’s epic or­a­to­rio Saul; Mea­sure for

from Cheek by Jowl and Moscow’s Pushkin The­atre; Dan­cenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc’s At­trac­tor com­pany Nude: Art from the Tate Col­lec­tion at the Art Gallery of NSW, Syd­ney Dance Com­pany artis­tic di­rec­tor Rafael Bonachela has chore­ographed work for six dancers in re­sponse to the art­works, per­formed, nat­u­rally, au na­turel (Jan­uary 7-23; see cover story on Page 8).

West Aus­tralian Bal­let takes bal­let to the beach with its an­nual sum­mer sea­son at the Quarry Am­phithe­atre (Fe­bru­ary 3-25). Takuto: Bal­let at the Quarry con­sists of four short works, all Aus­tralian pre­mieres: In Tran­sit by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa; the tongue-in-cheek Bal­let

by Eric Gauthier; Takuto, in­spired by Ja­panese taiko drum­ming, also by Gauthier; and Christo­pher Hill’s The Clear­est Light in its world pre­miere.

The Asia Tri­en­nial of Per­form­ing Arts (Fe­bru­ary 13-March 6 in Mel­bourne) fea­tures nu­mer­ous dance works from all over the re­gion. China’s avant-garde Tao Dance The­atre per­forms two pieces from Tao Ye’s Straight Line Tril­ogy; in Eko Supriyanto’s Bal­a­bala, women com­bine dance with mar­tial arts while his Cry Jailolo is a paean to en­dan­gered na­ture; Ja­vanese mu­sic duo Senyawa to­gether with Dan­cenorth and Lucy Guerin Inc present At­trac­tor, a “trance-noise odyssey”; and in Danc­ing with Death, Thai chore­og­ra­pher Pichet Klunchun cre­ates a space be­tween life and af­ter­life in­spired by the Phi Ta Khon ghost fes­ti­val.

And back in the com­fort zone, Queens­land Bal­let brings back David McAl­lis­ter’s beau­ti­ful reimag­in­ing of Sleep­ing Beauty with sets and cos­tumes by Gabriela Tylesova (Fe­bru­ary 24March 4 at QPAC).


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