The Q’s salty, twisted, immersive year of theatre

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Tobias Cole and Katherine Allen in “HMS Pinafore”.

THE Q’s Stephen Pike has confirmed his position as the canniest and most imaginative theatre programmer in town with a mix of camp comedy, nights of song, musicals and hard-hitting drama for its 2020 program. 

He’s also “finally cracked it” by snaring Sydney’s Hayes Theatre Company with a re-imagined, “gender-bending, hyper-theatrical and kinky” version of “HMS Pinafore”, directed by Kate Gaul and featuring our own Tobias Cole as The Captain.

As Pike explained to guests at his two showbiz-style previews on Tuesday (December 3), 2019 had been a daunting year, with unexpected cancellations common to many regional theatres. 

However, it had come up trumps in a nationwide survey, proving a high rate of audience satisfaction and a preference for musical theatre and contemporary plays.

Singaporean YouTube star Hirzi Zulkiflie.

Pike is particularly proud of having snared “Spice Night”, starring Singaporean YouTube star Hirzi Zulkiflie, Malaysian comedy queen Joanne Kam, India’s only out gay stand-up Navin Noronha and Filipino-Australian Margot Tanjutco in a salty style of comedy.

PYT Fairfield, who brought “Jump First, Ask Later” this year, will bring in “Playlist”, in which five young women talk about their favourite female pop stars and how these narratives inspire and shape their personal worlds.

A recurring motif this year is “immersive comedy theatre” to be seen in “Don Juan”, where actors with bad French accents take turns to play Don Juan in sunglasses and a baseball cap, and also a twisted version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Jekyll & Hyde” with more bad French accents.

2020 will see a serious move by The Q into sharing the two spaces that they have at hand – the purpose-built theatre itself and the adjoining Bicentennial Hall, transformed earlier this year from a barn into a performance-friendly space.

Lisa Budin Price in “Remembering the Carpenters”.

“The Hall” will be packed with variety shows, including Canadian singer Lisa Budin Price’s “Remembering the Carpenters” and Eddie Daniels’ “The Battle of the Voices”, where he pits Roy Orbison against Gene Pitney. It will also have Everyman Theatre’s acerbic version of “Romeo and Juliet” directed by Chris Zuber.

The Q continues to feature local work, with both Everyman and Echo Theatre in the season. 

Echo director Jordan Best this year presents Hilary Bell’s disturbing “Wolf Lullaby”, revolving around the murder of a small child in a bleak, remote town.

For those who love scripted plays, both serious and comic, it’s a feast.

In “Hell Ship”, author, actor and broadcaster Michael Veitch recreates the tragic 1852 story of the emigrant vessel Ticonderoga.

“American Song”, written by Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith, will be directed by Canberra-raised Tom Healey for Red Stitch Actors Theatre. Also from Red Stitch will be “Lamb”, in which playwright Jane Bodie and songwriter Mark Seymour tell the story of one family on an Australian sheep farm over generations.

“Grace under Pressure”, a verbatim work by David Williams and Paul Dwyer and staged by Sydney Arts & Health Collective reveals the hidden stories of health professionals.

The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre 2020 season. Book at theq.net.au or 6285 6290.

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Helen Musa
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