Arts / Rep takes on love, intense passion and intrigue

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THE cast from Canberra Rep’s upcoming production, “Noises Off”, helped launch the 85-year-old company’s 2017-18 season at Theatre 3.

That play, by English writer Michael Frayn, may be the most celebrated farce ever written about amateur theatre, but the season launch had a touch of snazzy professionalism that augured well for the coming year of drama, comedy, thriller and musical agitprop theatre.

“Adventures of love, intense passion, intrigue, friendship, laughter and remembrance” is how Rep prefers to style the program, which begins in March with another smash hit about actors and acting in “Trelawny of the ‘Wells’” by Arthur Wing Pinero, which tells the story of a popular star of melodrama who attempts to give up the stage for love. Tony Turner will direct.

Next up, in May, is Arthur Miller’s searing play, “A View from the Bridge”, a drama of betrayal and immigration told in the style of Greek theatre that has been a smash hit in recent revivals. Directing for the first time with Rep is Melbourne’s Chris Baldock.

As Canberra moves into winter there will be intrigue and frenetic action in Patrick Barlow’s hilarious adaptation of John Buchan’s book and Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The 39 Steps”, a smash hit in several national productions of recent times, to be directed by Jarrad West, last seen directing at Rep with “Casanova.”

Kate Blackhurst… staging “Neighbourhood Watch”.
Kate Blackhurst… staging “Neighbourhood Watch”.

Lally Katz’s “Neighbourhood Watch”, to be staged by Kate Blackhurst, is an original Australian play in which an older, widowed Hungarian émigré and a younger Australian woman are neighbours, then much more. This play is a kind of paean to suburban Australia.

In “Australia Day”, Wharf Revue creator Jonathan Biggins, whose theatrical writing will also be featured in the Canberra Theatre’s 2017 season, turns his satirical eye on a fictional Australia Day organising committee. Rep regular, Cate Clelland, makes a welcome return to stage the show in November.

Tim Sekuless… staging “Oh, What a Lovely War!”
Tim Sekuless… staging “Oh, What a Lovely War!”

Readers will know that one of the peculiarities of Rep’s annual season is that it includes the first play from the next year, namely 2018. With the centenary of the end of World War I in mind, Tim Sekuless will quite literally “send in the clowns” as he stages Joan Littlewood’s celebrated Vietnam-era political musical “Oh, What a Lovely War!”

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Helen Musa
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