The Weekend Australian - Review - - Out & About - Stephen Romei DS Deb­o­rah Jones DJ

(M) “Mark my words, there’ll never be a more screwed-up time in Wash­ing­ton!” So says ec­cen­tric sci­en­tist Bill Randa (a splen­did John Good­man) as he jumps out of a cab on Capi­tol Hill. That may make some peo­ple chor­tle to­day, but it wasn’t as funny back in the early 1970s, the set­ting for Kong: Skull Is­land. This film is a re­boot of the King Kong cin­e­matic fran­chise, which is clos­ing in on a cen­tury. Un­like the ear­lier movies, this one un­folds in Kong’s home, Skull Is­land, where he is far from be­ing the only un­usual beast. He does not end up in New York to climb the Em­pire State Build­ing or the World Trade Cen­tre. It’s the in­clu­sion of his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences, and lit­er­ary ones, that make this film en­gag­ing, de­spite its faults, which in­clude a pedes­trian script. There is hu­mour too, though not al­ways where the film­mak­ers in­tend it to be. A Few Less Men (MA15 +) A woe­ful se­quel to Stephan El­liott’s un­even but mostly hi­lar­i­ous A Few Best Men (2011), with the same writer, Dean Craig, but a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tor, Mark Lam­prell. This starts where the ear­lier film con­cluded, but as the gorm­less groom (Xavier Samuel) and his ac­ci­dent-prone best men (Kris Mar­shall, Kevin Bishop) at­tempt to trans­port the corpse of their mate back to Bri­tain, the jour­ney is com­pli­cated by a plane crash and en­coun­ters with var­i­ous broadly con­ceived Aussie ec­centrics. A solid cast can’t do much with the lame jokes and re­liance on toi­let hu­mour.

Miss Sloane (M) Calamity Jones The high­fa­lutin way to de­scribe di­rec­tor Richard Car­roll’s Calamity Jane at Syd­ney’s Hayes Theatre Co is to say its abun­dant meta-the­atrics put a con­tem­po­rary, ironic frame around an old-fash­ioned mu­si­cal, re­veal­ing fresh in­sights. The perky sim­plic­ity of the 1953 Doris Day film that spawned the 1961 stage ver­sion gives way to a much more nu­anced 21st-cen­tury take on a mid-20th-cen­tury in­ter­pre­ta­tion of an un­con­ven­tional 19th-cen­tury woman. If that sounds deadly, fear not. The low-fa­lutin truth is that along with be­ing out­stand­ingly clever, Calamity Jane is gut-bustlingly funny and has an ex­traor­di­nar­ily gen­er­ous heart. Cru­cially, it is blessed with a cen­tral per­for­mance from Vir­ginia Gay (pic­tured) as fine as any seen on our mu­si­cal stages since, I don’t know, for­ever. Car­roll’s pro­duc­tion makes hav­ing a tiny bud­get look like a bril­liant artis­tic choice and adding to the gen­eral de­light is the truly gor­geous score by Sammy Fain (mu­sic) and Paul Fran­cis Web­ster (lyrics), bliss­fully heard un­am­pli­fied. The Hayes Theatre Co, 19 Green­knowe Av­enue, Potts Point. To­day, 1pm and 7.30pm. Tick­ets: $60-$75. Book­ings: (02) 8065 7337 or on­line. Du­ra­tion: 2hrs 30 mins, with in­ter­val. Un­til April 9. pro­duc­tion by Michael Gow is a beloved mod­ern clas­sic set dur­ing the Aus­tralian Christ­mas of 1967. Away is seen through the eyes of Tom, an as­pir­ing ac­tor, and is set against the back­drop of the Viet­nam War and the so­cial up­heavals of the 1960s. The cast in­cludes Heather Mitchell ( Hay Fever), Glenn Hazel­dine ( Dis­graced) and Liam Nuna. Di­rected by Matthew Lut­ton. Syd­ney Opera House. Ben­ne­long Point, Syd­ney. Tonight, 8pm. Tick­ets: $61-$105. Book­ings: (02) 9250 7777. Un­til March 25. Aladdin “Moder­a­tion is a fa­tal thing. Noth­ing suc­ceeds like ex­cess,” said Os­car Wilde, who ob­vi­ously wasn’t in a po­si­tion to ad­vise Disney on Aladdin but would not have been able to fault its abun­dance. Aladdin con­fi­dently con­trives a stand­ing ova­tion be­fore in­ter­val, se­cure in the knowl­edge there’ll be an­other one at the end. Sure, there’s a whole­some story some­where in here about be­ing hon­est, gen­er­ous and true to your­self, but es­sen­tially Aladdin is a su­per­charged salaam to fab­u­lous­ness. There are a halfmil­lion Swarovski crys­tals be­deck­ing Gregg Barnes’s eye­pop­ping cos­tumes Capi­tol Theatre, 13 Camp­bell Street, Hay­mar­ket. To­day, 1pm and 8pm. Tick­ets: $60-$195. Book­ings: 136 100 or on­line. Un­til March 26. Richard III wants and given to sud­den tantrums. When he is woo­ing Lady Anne, and later ar­gu­ing with El­iz­a­beth in his at­tempt to get her to woo her daugh­ter on his be­half, he seems to be­lieve what he is say­ing, he is so pas­sion­ate, un­til he boasts of his trick­ery in those mis­chievous lit­tle asides to the au­di­ence. Mul­vany’s face is in­cred­i­bly mo­bile and ex­pres­sive in all this. We catch the wicked grins of com­pli­ance, but also brief glimpses of hurt be­neath the brash­ness, and then the spread­ing cracks in Richard’s con­fi­dence. The play is very pared back, es­pe­cially in the fi­nal scenes. Richard’s re­la­tion­ship with Buck­ing­ham and the bat­tle scenes with Rich­mond are sketched in al­most breath­lessly. Rich­mond has no fi­nal scene of tri­umph. At the end we are left with Richard crum­pled down and dy­ing on the stage, dev­as­tat­ingly and mov­ingly alone. Di­rec­tor Peter Evans’s taut ver­sion of the play,

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