Theatre Review: December 2019
by Anthony Howes
In the December 2009 issue of the Messenger, I wrote: It was T S Eliot who said that God, as Creator, had made humankind in his image, to be, in turn, creators. As Christmas 2019 approaches, together with the end of the calendar year, I wonder if we in Perth have been able to experience creativity of quality and excellence; creativity that delineates clearly the link between God the Creator, and creations, as seen in our Theatre?
You, who read this column, will have a variety of answers. Did you see something at the State Theatre Centre which gave both joy and fresh thought; or was it at the Opera or the Ballet? Perhaps a production by your local community theatre allowed deeper insights? I hope so. I recall sitting in His Majesty’s Theatre watching a production which uplifted me and gave me new insights into the relationships within the play. There was excellence in the writing, excellence in performances and direction. Nothing was sub-standard – God the Creator was not short-changed!
Of course, in 2020, The Festival of Perth and the Fringe Festival will give us many examples of theatre; but, will they give a glimpse of things beyond ourselves? I hope so.
As I look to the coming year, I am very excited about at least three theatrical offerings. Two are coming to us from the realm of ‘World Theatre’ and the other is ‘homegrown’.
The Royal National Theatre’s multi-award-winning production of War Horse comes to the Crown Theatre in March. Hailed by Time Magazine as ‘a landmark theatre event’, this powerfully moving and imaginative drama, filled with stirring music and songs, is a show of phenomenal inventiveness. At its heart are astonishing life-sized puppets created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, who bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage. I saw War Horse when it first opened in London; it was unforgettable, and left me with insights into the power that love for God’s creatures, can change human lives for the better. As the UK’s ‘Sunday Telegraph’ reported: War Horse Gallops away with your heart.
Come July, I insist you visit the Claremont Showground for Cirque du Soleil’s 35th production since 1984, KURIOs – Cabinet of Curiosities. In a larger-than-life curio cabinet, the audience discovers a hidden, invisible world – a place where the craziest ideas and the grandest dreams lie waiting. As I found when I saw this production in Sydney, glorious comedy and extraordinary acrobatics, against a background of music, costume and production effects, lift one to a world of total entertainment. This is a must see.
Before War Horse and Cirque du Soleil have thrilled WA audiences, there is a chance to witness homegrown creativity where story, professional excellence in performance and direction will reach the same level as the international successes mentioned above. Theatre 180, Green Man Media and Producer Ron Siemiginowski have joined forces to present a unique multi-media production of AB Facey’s A Fortunate Life. With a new script by Jenny Davis OAM and artistic director Stuart Halusz, from 20 February, Ace Cinemas in Midland, Oran Cinemas in Albany, Busselton and Geraldton, will see actors on stage, and film depicting environment, bringing this challenging and beautiful West Australian story to life. Theatre 180 director, Stuart, says his Company's mission is to present storytelling, through theatre and cinema, which enables us all to learn from our past, reflect on our present and imagine a better future. Surely, T S Eliot’s premise is significantly resolved by Theatre 180 – and, I suspect, in the other productions mentioned above.
I wish you every blessing this Christmastide.
Anthony presents more news of arts and entertainment every Saturday from 10.00am till 12.00noon on Capital Radio 101.7 FM & Capital digital.
Published in the December 2019 edition of Messenger.