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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1913)




Nova Ensemble dir. David Pye



Somerville Theatre, UWA campus

reviewed by Sophie Sax-Lehrman


Have there ever been so many people at one time on the campus of the University of Western Australia? Certainly, the citizens of Perth turned out en masse on Friday evening for LUMINOUSnight with literally tens of thousands swarming across the campus to savour the delights of a range of free entertainments to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the UWA. 

A capacity audience attended a screening at the open-air Somerville Cinema of Carl Laemmle’s silent movie version of  Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a tale that has inspired a host of moviemakers. 

Why this movie when there are so many others to screen? It was a clever choice as the film dates from 1913, the same year as UWA’s founding. And giving a 21st-century slant to it, we listened to a specially commissioned music score by two of Perth’s most committed exponents of new music – David Pye and Lee Buddle – performed by the Nova Ensemble. 

Here were the antique (the film) with the brand new (the music) – and how finely they meshed. Nova was very much on its collective toes with Pye presiding over events. All praise for the skill with which the instrumentalists co-ordinated with cinematic action. Time and again, there was splendid integration between on-screen action and the accompanying music which for the most part enhanced mood. This was fascinating fare; I savoured every moment, especially King Baggot’s portrayal of both Jekyll and his ghastly alter ego. 

Baggot’s  Mr Hyde is fascinating, his transformation startling, reducing his height to striking effect by hunkering down, then scuttling and lurching about like some monstrous, malformed spider. An almost flat black hat added to his bizarre appearance, in striking contrast to his portrayal of Jekyll as a compassionate and thoroughly decent doctor. 

Laemmle’s movie makes for disturbing viewing in quite another sense as one realises that the entire cast, including many children, and those behind the cameras, are long dead. But through the medium of cinema, they are all, in a way, brought back to life to once again reach out to a fascinated audience a century on. An exception was a cinema-goer nearby who with astonishing indifference to the annoyance he was causing many, had a loud and largely pointless conversation on his mobile phone.


This is a movie I’d very much like to see again. True, it shows signs of wear, the image occasionally scratched, blurred, stained or bubbled but in a curious sense this underscores its great age and makes viewing it all that more fascinating.

Sam Atlas gave a delightful introductory talk.


W.A.Youth Orchestra

Perth Concert Hall

reviewed by Neville Cohn




Mahler’s massive Symphony No 1 is a challenge to even the most experienced of professional orchestras. How, I wondered, would an ensemble of young people, nearly all still in their teens, fare in traversing one of the toughest and most exhausting of all orchestral terrains?





Let it be said at once that for sheer commitment, this young orchestra deserves laurels. And Christopher van Tuinen’s calm podium presence and steady beat did wonders in coaxing a unified response from his forces, no small achievement considering the relative inexperience of the players and the many challenges the score poses. No less to WAYO’s credit, was the particularly meaningful contribution of the brass section which, more often than not, brought a professional sheen to its playing. Tempi were finely judged throughout and, crucially, the shifting moods of the work were evoked with more than ordinary skill.


I listened with pleasure to the playing of Joel Bass, winner of the 2012 Woodside Concerto Competition.


Hovhaness’ Fantasy on Japanese Woodcuts is not for timid soloists. It is villainously treacherous and requires way-above- average skill with the mallets and an iron nerve to negotiate its intricacies – and this Bass did with professional aplomb. There was not a dull moment in a performance I cannot too highly praise not only the physical command this young musician brought to everything he played but his remarkable ability to reveal the demon that lurks behind the concerto’s tidal waves of notes. Throughout, van Tuinen took the WAYO through an accompaniment which was finely gauged to not only accommodate each subtlety of the solo part but also the challenges posed by the score. Bravo!


credit: Jon Green 

Mozart’s overture to The Marriage of Figaro was less uniformly persuasive. Certainly, the strings needed a more uniform tonal sheen. But this should not discourage the orchestra from tackling more works of the classical era which might to advantage figure more prominently in WAYO’s programs. They require a disciplined focus, the practice of which can only be to the long-term advantage of the orchestra.




Cameron Roberts (piano)

Keyed-Up series

Callaway Auditorium

reviewed by Phoebe Schuman


This was a recital to grip the attention of the most jaded listeners: a compilation of works all being given their first airings in Perth. This is not to suggest that the audience would have been unfamiliar with the works on offer. On the contrary, these were some of the most frequently encountered pieces in the classical repertoire but here heard, for the first time in Perth, in the form of piano transcriptions by the soloist Cameron Roberts.


But these accounts of standard repertoire – Tchaikowsky’s 1812 Overture, say, or Summer from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and songs of Rachmaninov – were offered, not as hack reductions of well known staples but extraordinarily apposite keyboard versions that came across like a compendium of musical marvels.

  Cameron Roberts




One of the most abiding recollections of this recital was the quite astonishing wealth of detail that reached the ear, subtleties which in the original, say, at climactic high points in the 1812 Overture or Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, would not necessarily have impinged on the consciousness. Here, though, we were able to detect subtleties with a clarity that was both astounding and gratifying.

An account of Summer from The Four Seasons sprang to new and fascinating life, with notes more often than not clothed in glorious tone, its movements presented like a chaplet of flawlessly fashioned gems.

I was particularly impressed with Roberts’ transcription of Rachmaninov’s song How Beautiful it is Here! Luminous tone, clarity of line and profound expressiveness made this one of the evening’s most memorable moments.

Peak of the evening lay in the keeping of Bach: the slow movement from his Concerto for 2 violins BWV 1043 was a model, not only of the transcriber’s art, but a remarkable unbottling of its gentle genie. Bravissimo!

Unsurprisingly, there were encores: another transcription – In Paradisum from Faure’s Requiem and a passionate reading of Andaluza from the 12 Spanish Dances by Granados.




Burswood Theatre



Perth, Western Australia

reviewed by Deanna Blacher


Riverdance opened last night to a packed audience in anticipatory mood.

One could feel the expectation shimmering in the air, an expectation  that was, for the most part fulfilled.


The cast were in fine fettle , beautifully rehearsed and groomed, dancing with ebullience and an infectious joi de vivre as well as  with a  precision of footwork, par excellence , throughout the evening.


Backed by four musicians and a pre-recorded  orchestral score and the Riverdance Singers, this show made for  foot- tapping, thumpingly exhilarating entertainment.


The pre-recorded sound at times drowned out the dancers footwork and live musicians.

This would have been nothing more than an opening night glitch that will be surely be adjusted as the season progresses.


All four musicians, percussionist Guy Rickarby, violinist Niamh Fahy, piper Eamonn Galldubh and Toby Kelly on saxophone were in top form with Niamh Fahy’s exuberant fiddling in particular that set hearts racing and toes tapping. She strode across the stage as if to the manner born, all the while never missing a note or producing anything less than perfect intonation.


Tappers Kelly Isaac and Gilbert L. Bailley II added a touch of humour to the proceedings, while well schooled flamenco dancer Rocio Montoya, with beautifully controlled arm movements and machine gun footwork, added elegance, dignity and a touch of authenticity to the cross-cultural mix.


Lead dancers Maria Buffini, Catherine Collins, Clara McGillan, Brendan Dorris, Alan Kenefick, and Padraic Moyles lead a very closely  knit dance corps. Dance director Brendan de Gallai and Dance captain Niamh Eustace obviously run a tight ship – and the results showed splendidly.


Set and lighting designs worked well for the most part but I was not enamoured of the open white light , employed in the finale of the first half. All it did was wash out the costumes and faces and leave a somewhat dreary impression on what was actually a stunning dance number.


The most effective lighting, music, choreography and costume combo was in ‘Thunderstorm’: scene five in the first half.

On the whole, this was quality family entertainment by dedicated artists and stage crew who have worked hard to give untold numbers of people around the world a spring to their steps and a lift to their hearts.


Bravo .



Boundary Street (Reg Cribb)



Black Swan Theatre Company

Heath Ledger Theatre

reviewed by Scott Rheede

Gary Marsh & Henrik Tived – Gary Marsh Photography

Boundary Street is a play that ought to have been written decades ago. In its at-times shattering frankness, it focuses unblinkingly on a dark (no pun intended) aspect of Australia’s social and political history. It’s a play that ought to be required viewing particularly by high school and university students, many –  perhaps most – of whom could well be largely unaware of those  tragic times.


It is also worth bearing in mind that although South Africa’s notorious apartheid laws were promulgated after the Nationalists won government in 1948 (which remained in power until the late 1980s when Nelson Mandela’s release from prison ushered in the new, so called ‘rainbow’ nation), a very restrictive colour bar had been in existence for very many years. Australia’s colour bar, too, in both official and informal terms, had for years brought misery to a significant but largely powerless constituency.


It’s a curious co-incidence that Reg Cribb’s play comes out at a time when a documentary series on SBS reveals just how severe Australia’s colour bar was. And it is hardly a secret that South African apartheid was considered acceptable – and worthy of emulation – by significant figures of the Australian establishment. But that is seldom mentioned above a whisper these days.


Boundary Street’s story is briefly this: it is World War II and one of the many USA warships (come to tackle the Japanese in ferocious and bloody engagements) is docked at Brisbane. Numbers of its complement are African Americans (then known as negroes). But there’s a move afoot on the part of Australia to prevent black servicemen coming ashore and, quel horreur, possibly mingling with whites. But, after the emphatic intervention of no less a personage than US President Franklin Roosevelt, black servicemen are allowed to come ashore – and this is where Cribb’s play begins.

 Gary Marsh & Henrik Tived – Gary Marsh Photography

Much of the action is set in a night club-style environment. There’s a band in the background with, as leader, James Morrison on trumpet and also, discreetly, on piano. I cannot praise the work of this ensemble too highly. With extraordinary skill, its decibel levels are adjusted to on-stage action in the most sensitive and meaningful sense. Visually, sonically and stylistically, the band scores high throughout. Morrison is beyond reproach. The band’s presence is a crucial factor in evoking the mood of the era.


Choreographically, too, there’s much that is admirable. As the dancers do their jive routines, they positively radiate authenticity as those in the audience who were around in those tumultuous times would instantly recognise. And they certainly know how to strut their stuff.


These aspects of the production, significant as they are in evoking and maintaining period authenticity, are really side shows, as it were, to the main game which evokes a period that very many people would like to forget on either side of the terrible divide that brought so much misery to people who had done no wrong but had the misfortune to have been born on the wrong side of the colour divide – and, for too many, that hurt continues.

Gary Marsh & Henrik Tived – Gary Marsh Photography

Reg Cribb has a near-faultless ear for dialogue. He hasn’t put a foot wrong and the same applies to a large cast. The latter serves Cribb well, breathing life and authenticity into his lines.


If Boundary Street doesn’t become an Australian classic, I would like to know why. This stamp of period authenticity is near-faultlessly maintained. And there’s not a weak link in the casting. Each makes a significant contribution to the whole. I watched, riveted, as we saw, in all its cruelty, the terrible damage that racism wrought not only on those at the wrong end of the colour spectrum but on Australian society as a whole.


If a production of Boundary Street comes your way, don’t miss it. It has every prospect of becoming an Australian classic.