Julius Caesar Melbourne Fringe Festival 2016

Review by Keith Gow September 2016

“Hooray and up she rises, Hooray and up she rises” chant the working women of Rome to celebrate Caesar’s victory and her return to the capital. Soon, though, Caesar is warned to “Beware the Ides of March”. And the knives come out.

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Macbeth 2015

Review by Brian Godfrey Adelaide Theatre Guide

Nowadays, we tend to want to play around with, alter and/or modernise the plays of William Shakespeare. Not so Essential Theatre. With their ‘Shakespeare In The Vines’ programme they present the Bard’s works as they would have been performed around the inns and taverns of his time – stripped down to the essentials giving honest entertainment to the masses.

Essential Theatre’s “Macbeth” does just that – entertains its audience wonderfully and transports them back to a simpler (though perhaps bloodthirstier) time. Under Mark Wilson’s pacey, concise direction, the audience witness the blowing of trumpets, the banging of drums, the singing of songs and a tight, faithful retelling of this glorious masterpiece.

The cast of eight – Martin Blum, Amanda LaBonte, Sophie Lampel, Mia Landgren, Olivia Monticciolo, Tim Paige, Michael Wahr and Karlis Zaid – all give good performances and show their expertise when it comes to clarity, understanding and projection (extremely important outdoors) of every word of dialogue.

Zaid portrays both Duncan and Macduff well; Wahr gives an extremely strong performance as Banquo; whilst Paige is suitably naive, but never wimpy as Malcolm.

Lampel, Landgren and Monticciolo are good in their many roles, but play the witches (for once as witches!) brilliantly. Lampel also steals the show as the hilarious Porter.

As Lady Macbeth, LaBonte gives a good performance – especially in the ‘out, out, dammed spot’ scene, but concentrates more on the power and persuasion side of the character never really showing any love for Macbeth. As the doomed warrior, Blum is strong and well suited to the role. His reaction to his wife’s death and the following famous speech are superb. But his ‘Is this a Dagger...’ speech seems rushed.

This “Macbeth” is highly engrossing and immensely entertaining, with some nice comic touches and a very clever way of beheading someone out in the open in front of a crowd. Given the right weather conditions and winery, a great evening can be guaranteed with this production.

Kudos must also go to the owners and staff of Deviation Road Winery for their efficient and pleasant handling of the entire event. Their wines are very good as well (unpaid plug).

Much Ado About Nothing 2012


Review by Nicole Russo Barefoot Review

On a balmy evening in the McLaren Vale, a sweaty but appreciative audience set up shop on a grassy amphitheatre in the grounds of Coriole Winery to enjoy the nomadic Essential Theatre's 2012 Shakespeare production.

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A Stranger in Town 2011

Review by Geoffrey Williams Stage Whispers

Precious memories are at play in this eloquent and involving memory play – imaginatively, impeccably, lovingly, and often quite beautifully, delivered to the stage by Ms Bishop and performed by a uniformly excellent cast, who handle their challenging multiple roles with pure theatrical instinct and immense skill.

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Romeo and Juliet 2011


Review by Richard Flynn Adelaide Theatre Guide

Through a deluge lasting all day, a drive to Clare Valley’s Sevenhill Cellars. There, after horror experiences with “Romeo and Juliet” in two productions last year, this reviewer’s faith is wonderfully restored, ‘wettest February day up north’ notwithstanding.

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The Comedy of Errors 2010


Review by Nicole Russo
 Barefoot Review

Returning to the picturesque setting of Coriole Winery in the McLaren Vale, Essential Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors couldn’t have asked for a better day.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream 2009


Review by Richard Flynn Adelaide Theatre Guide

Scene: the gardens of a Clare Valley winery, late on a warm Saturday afternoon; a large crowd of all ages sitting in their deck chairs or on rugs and cushions on the grass, making serious inroads into the contents of picnic hampers, the cellars’ wines in as many glasses as you’re ever likely to see at a performance, now “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Ah! This is the life! Eight strolling players come into view. They’re singing, to music from the musical, “Pippin”:
Join us! Leave your fields to flower. Join us! Leave your cheese to sour!
Join us! Come and waste an hour or two!

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Twelfth Night 2008


Review by Richard Flynn Adelaide Theatre Guide

Nine professional actors present this Shakespeare comedy written for the twelfth night after Christmas – the celebrations for the Feast of the Epiphany (the Magi

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2006

Review by Bill Spencer Barefoot Review

Midsummer madness, star crossed lovers, staggering hempen homespuns, fairies mingling with the audience and dancing with children and timeless verse all created an evening of magic equally satisfying to family picnickers, wine connoisseurs and Shakespeare buffs.

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Seeking Djira 2003

Review by Bill Peret  

Linda Jaivin’s brand of comedy, until now most notably on show in her popular novels, could fairly be described as broad.  Sex is generally on the menu, although she has also made a foray into the political in The Monkey and the Dragon. Seeking Djira, her first full length play, sets a contemporary political issue; the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia; loose among a an enclosed group of writers whose sexual and other tensions are at least as important as their political opinions.

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