Tag: Palais Theatre

Review: Salome

A disturbing opera, masterfully presented

By Narelle Wood

Victorian Opera opens its 2020 season with a performance of Richard Strauss’s unsettling Opera Salomé, based on Oscar Wilde’s play by the same name.

The Opera opens with Narraboth (James Egglestone), the captain of the guards guarding the prophet Jochanaan (Daniel Sumegi), voicing is admiration and infatuation for Salomé (Vida Mikneviciute). Salomé soon enters, having left the banquet to escape her step-father Herod (Ian Storey), who is also infatuated by Salomé. The plot quickly thickens as Salomé demands to speak to Jochanaan. Upon meeting Jochanaan Salomé becomes intoxicated by his looks, but Jochanaan rebukes her advances, denouncing Salomé, her family, and their wickedness. Meanwhile, distraught at the sight of Salomé’s admiration for another, Narraboth takes his own life. And just when you think that this may be the climatic end to the story, Herod and Herodias (Liane Keegan) enter, and the plot takes yet another dark turn.

Conducted by Richard Mills, Orchestra Victoria bring a sense of urgency to the score that seems to foreshadow the impending tragedy, even when the characters are declaring their love for another. Director Cameron Menzies has capitalised on the uncomfortable themes of Strauss’s opera, bringing to the stage characters who are complex, unlikeable and disturbing, especially in their interactions with each other. There is no mistaking Herod’s leering, and almost predatory pursuit of Salomé’s affections, but he is also tormented and seems to have some resemblance of a moral compass. Herodias, while gleeful at the prospect of her husband’s potential demise, is also at times seemingly concerned for him. The setting, designed by Christina Smith, superbly mirrors some of the architectural features of the Palais theatre, and is almost dishevelled in appearance, but is still reminiscent of a ‘great palace’. The costuming by Anna Cordingley is stunning, but again there is something that is just ‘off’ enough, deliberately so, for it to look constricted, unsettled or out of place.

Everybody’s performances are exceptional, including the impressive ensemble. There is potential with this storyline for the characters to become more caricatures. And while there were certain character traits that each performer emphasised, it didn’t ever cross the line into something more farcical. And, again, this seemed to contribute to the troubling nature of the performance. Mikneviciute, for instance, moves from emotion to emotion, portraying Salomé as someone confident in who they are and what they want, despite how irrational or comedic her behaviour might appear to the audience.

While the opera is short – one act of 90 minutes – the impression it leaves is lasting. Victorian Opera’s interpretation of Salomé is tragic and uncomfortable, but captivatingly so.

Salomé is on at the Palais Theatre until February 27th. Tickets at http://www.victorianopera.com.au/season/salome

Photography by Craig Fuller

 

 

REVIEW: The Australian Premiere of BARBIE LIVE! The Musical

Pretty in pink, and playful pre-teen fun

By Margaret Wieringa

The Palais Theatre in St Kilda was decked out in pink and ready for the hundreds of excited little girls who attended the Australian premiere of Barbie LIVE! The Musical. Celebrities were spotted with their young families, including Shane Jacobson and NeighboursRyan Moloney.

The pink, sparkly curtain opened to reveal a movie set, where Barbie and her friends were shooting her next film. Her co-star and best friend Teresa was experiencing a slump in confidence, so Barbie took her on a journey, revisiting her old films to inspire her.

Barbie Live The Musical!

The first act saw them visiting Swan Lake with some questionable ballet and then Mariposa, a land with lots of crystals. The set for Mariposa was impressive, especially the use of UV effects for the crystal cave and the mayflower pole. The transitions however, using clips from the Barbie movies, were very clunky and not totally necessary. By the end of the first act, I was getting restless. Thank goodness for Act Two!

It was like the show had drunk a whole lot of red cordial, because everything perked up and had more life. There was a whole heap of audience interaction that the children loved, the story was more engaging, the music was more exciting, and it was far more fabulous!

I wondered a little about the morals of the show, however. Bad girl Raquelle (Courtney Cheatham) wanted Teresa’s role and was prepared to go to great lengths, including sabotage, to get it. At the end there was no comeuppance for her, which left me thinking that the moral must be that if you are being bullied, just put up with it: you might still win. I couldn’t actually see the need for a ‘baddie’ in the show, and feel it would have been as engaging for the kids without one and could have ultimately offered a better moral.

Kristina Miller, playing Teresa, had a strong voice that really belted out her numbers. The ensemble was fantastic, totally committed to the performance with magnificent, cheesy smiles the whole time. Even though it was very clear they were people, there were some doll-like movements throughout the dancing that were a lovely touch. It was a little odd that a show called Barbie LIVE! had Barbie as a less important character in the performance, but beautiful Chelsea Bernier still got up there and gave the little girls exactly what they wanted. A real live Barbie.

Venue: Palais Theatre in St Kilda
Season: Sunday April 6, 11am, 3pm and 7pm, Monday April at 11am
Tickets: $49.90/$69.90/$99.90
Booking: http://www.ticketmaster.com.au/ or call 1300 660 0131300 660 013

Review: AT THE WATER’S EDGE

A sea of possibilities with some exciting breaking waves

By Myron My

Palais Theatre is celebrating 85 years by presenting ReAction Theatre’s production of At the Water’s Edge: a collection of seven short plays celebrating life by the water.

On preview night, I thoroughly enjoyed this theme of water and its relationship to people, and it seemed even more fitting to be performed in St Kilda, right next to the beach. In all the stories, the water wasn’t just present, but was a character, always there and affecting these people’s lives, whether it be in a frivolous, philosophical or a deeply emotional way.

However, I felt rather disappointed with the three opening performances. They seemed to lack a clear plot and I was left wondering who these characters were to one another, and what were their wants, needs, desires and so on. They were stories that didn’t feel authentic and at times it seemed as if the actors were just delivering their lines and not believing what they were saying although this may simply have been some preview night nerves.

However, the stories after interval raised the bar and at times exceeded my expectations. There were particularly strong performances by Lee McClenaghan in Sausages by Rebecca Lister and the wonderfully comedic The Sunburnt Country by Camilla Maxwell. In the latter, McClenaghan and Danelle Lee play two British backpackers having an Aussie beach holiday with some interesting revelations and some sharp, authentic “British” dialogue to play with. The two actors had great comedic timing and a strong rapport on stage.

The highlight of the evening would have to go to Alex Broun’s The First Fireworks. The well-told story of a terminally ill woman, who wants to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks with her daughter for one last time, pulls at the heart strings until its sad conclusion. This is in no doubt indebted to the commitment and honesty that Josie Eberhard puts in as the mother and the wonderful support that Alicia Beckhurst provides as her daughter.

Set designer Kate Ferguson has done well in creating distinctive settings whilst being limited to a relatively small space. The use of a projected backdrop of various “water” settings is a great aid in allowing the audience to visualize these various locations.

Overall, At the Water’s Edge is a collaborative thoughtful piece on the ways environment can affect our lives, and there were strong performances by most of the cast but perhaps better care could have been taken in choosing which stories to tell here, and how to tell them.

Venue: Palais Theatre’s grand foyer, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda

Season: Until 20 November | 8:00pm and Sat 5:00pm

Tickets: $32 General Admission

Bookings: 136 100 or www.palaistheatre.net.au