Please find below some of the latest reviews for our recent productions.
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Last evening I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of the new 1812 Theatre production based on the hugely popular British TV series The Last of The Summer Wine…. and it was hilarious!
The humour was distinctly slapstick with shades of Benny Hill’s ‘wink wink nudge nudge’ style. It featured a small cast, who obviously had great fun in their roles and one can only imagine the hi-jinks that must have prevailed during rehearsals! It features a group of older men, one of whom finds himself reluctantly betrothed to a woman he barely knows, her spurned lover of 14 years, her domineering aunt and a notorious local flasher!
I did have a little trouble sometimes interpreting the assumed heavy British regional accents, but – as they say – ‘actions speak louder than words’, and there certainly was plenty of action. If you are looking for a night of highly entertaining, not too subtle entertainment, you can’t go past this play! It ran for many years on British TV with something like 90 episodes screened.
While you are there, take the time to see the very strong and quite challenging art exhibition in the Bakery Gallery, which is part of the theatre complex.
Bookings can be made through the 1812theatre website.
Season Two – In association with Swampfox Productions
Director John Bishop has delivered a beautiful and poignant play that finds some gentle moments of humour and warmth, whilst exploring the challenges of family dysfunction and the impact on our health system with sensitivity. The subject matter is complex and there is no easy resolution in real life for these family situations. The closing of the play was powerful (no spoilers) and a few tears were being wiped away through the audience.
Strands is a thought-provoking play that will remain with you long after you leave the theatre.
Both Ellis and Payet manipulated the affecting and exquisitely written material beautifully and crafted a sibling relationship that was authentic and heart wrenching. Their skill and talents made us truly care for their ‘strands’ in the world.
Experienced director Christine Grant has delivered an entertaining night of theatre and fans of the television series will be delighted to see the staging of another three episodes of this classic British sitcom.
I really don’t want to say too much about the content of the show, but I can say that you really should take the night off and go to the theatre. Who’s to say if the male cast members will want to reprise their roles… for a third time (they should, they really should).
Don’t miss it or you may just regret it!
Overall, this was an enjoyable evening of theatre and with plenty of laughs to be had, The 1812 Theatre’s Production of The Vicar Of Dibley makes for an entertaining night out in the lead up to Christmas.
Director Helen Ellis does a sterling job with an excellent cast on Ken Davenport’s compilation play My First Time – an offering about losing one’s virginity.
My First Time is an intriguing look at something most of us have experienced but very few are willing to talk about. It presents real stories without adding any moral or ethical judgement – although this will no doubt happen in the minds of the audience whether they intend to or not. My First Time will tantalise, shock, make you laugh, make you angry, possibly even make you cry … and perhaps even get you talking about that old taboo topic: sex.
Driving Miss Daisy is a heartwarming and endearing story about an unlikely friendship that blossomed against a background of racial discrimination and class divide. There are plenty of lighter moments in the play to provide some laughs and keep the story entertaining, but there is also plenty to consider in our current world for anyone wanting to delve a little further.
‘Allo ‘Allo is an entertaining night of theatre and fans of the BBC sitcom will enjoy this play which captures the hilarity of the characters they already love and should only improve as the cast settle into their roles.
Skilled director Loretta Bishop has a marvellous cast of four highly talented actors who (mostly) avoid going too far over the top. They play the comic business for the truth, without un-necessary mugging for the audience; yet they manage to nail every laugh, as well as the more pointed and serious references to racism and sexism.
To cap off the very entertaining evening there is always 1812’s legendary supper….with finger food and Bubbles. A perfect night out.
Loretta Bishop has delivered a hilarious comedy to close off the 1812 year that will certainly entertain audiences, regardless of whether or not they’ve ever seen the movie or read the book of Gone With The Wind. In the theatre foyer audiences can find further information about references made during the play, which will be particularly helpful for anyone not familiar with that era of Hollywood.
Moonlight and Magnolias is a hilarious play and a delightful evening of entertainment, although it’s quite likely you’ll return home feeling compelled to google and uncover what is thought to have really happened.
The marvellous thing about acclaimed community theatres (and 1812 is certainly one) is discovering breakout performances, and there are two in this production.
Nevertheless his work with the actors was crisp and assured and this is yet another success to add to 1812’s long list of fine dramas for the people in the hills. This is more than a play…it is a piece of dramatised history, and social commentary, designed to remind us of what our ancestors suffered, both on the battlefields and helplessly waiting at home….”Lest we forget.”
Patient 12 is a cleverly written and thought provoking play that will leave the audience with more questions than the story offers answers. With Australia’s ongoing involvement in world conflicts, the impact of the aftermath of war remains just as relevant, making Patient 12 a relevant story for today.
Steptoe And Son is community theatre at its best and it’s hard to imagine a “professional production” could do much better. Whether you’re there to reminisce or seeing it for the first time, if you enjoy British comedy this play is a must.
While the pace was a little slow for the opening, it will undoubtedly pick up as the production settles in, and there’s always the excellent supper and bubbles to look forward to (not just opening night, but after every performance).
The adult themes, and the contemplation of the existence of God, make this, rather, a play for the inner child in all of us. But it is appealing and often delightful, and this is another string for 1812 to add to its award-winning bow.
Indeed, there is much to consider in this play, rather than to simply enjoy. The Book of Everything is definitely worth seeing by adults and perhaps some older children – but deserves to be considered as a deeply moving and confronting play that requires further dissection and discussion.
See the play, chat to the cast after the show over supper and then continue to talk further about the issues surrounding domestic violence. If we simply come away thinking The Book of Everything was a magical story without any further thought or consideration what does it really say about how our society views domestic violence?
Congratulations to 1812 on the Opening night of The Book of Everything written by Playwright Richard Tulloch.
This play was adapted from the original touching and funny story of Thomas, his family and neighbours set in Amsterdam after the war. This was especially written for young people by Dutch Author Guus Kuijer. The Book of Everything is beautifully directed by Chris Proctor. A brilliant cast, great sets and perfect timing brought this quixotic tale to life with its laughter, tears and much food for thought.
The story revolves round nine year old Thomas who sees things no one else can; tropical fish in the Amsterdam Canal, trumpeting sparrows and even a hailstorm of frogs. He also sees the unhappiness of his family; the violence in his father and the pain that lingers long after the war is over. All this both good and bad; Jesus, the angels, the bottom-biter, the startling Mrs. Van Amersfoort and a beautiful girl with a leather leg- he carefully records in The Book of Everything.
Matt Phillips as nine year old Thomas was nothing short of astonishing. Frank Schrever as Father, Mandy Murray as Mother, Dhania McKechnie as the 16yo sister gave a perfect depiction of the characters and dynamics of this little family. Lore Burns as the beautiful girl with the leather leg that squeaks was just simply perfect. Also Congratulations to Lore who will be heading off to NY for a month to take up an Acting Scholarship with the NY Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. Well done, we wish you every success and I look forward to seeing you on stage again.
Jackie Hutchinson again perfectly chosen gave a great performance as Mrs. Van Amesrfoort. Loved Jackie Quinn as Aunty Pie and of course Stephen Barber as Jesus. The remaining cast members did a superb supporting job.
Congratulations to the Cast and supporting Crew. The Musos Helmut Lopaczuk and Richard Foster were wonderful and added magic to the evening. The music was so catching they even had a couple of Reviewers dancing not to mention members of the cast. Perfectly chosen costumes, particularly loved Mrs. Van Amersfoort’s dress.
Loved the show, unlike anything I’ve seen and in my humble opinion a must see.
Well, John Bishop has done it again! A compelling play, extremely talented cast and masterful direction. The triumph that is this production had me searching my vocabulary for enough words of praise.
SwampFox Productions have now presented eight plays in the bakery@1812 since their first production in 2006, each fulfilling the company’s mission to present edgy, compelling and, at times, confronting theatre.
Killing Jeremy is no exception. It is set in the hospital room of Jeremy (Nigel Leslie) who is in a coma following a car crash caused by his girlfriend, Madeline (Angela Ellis). She is now maintaining a vigil at the bedside while his family want to turn off life support.
The difficult subject is written with poignancy and wry humour by Melbourne playwright, Bridgette Burton, who has cleverly woven the story through action in the present and through a series of flashbacks. Each of the actors also portrays various other characters in the present and the past as we learn their story and the events leading up to the crash. This may sound confusing but, in the hands of this director and cast, the audience had no problem following it even though the only discernible change was in the actor’s voice and demeanour.
Director John Bishop’s simple staging used just a hospital bed and chair with occasional projections on the bare black-painted brick walls of the bakery. This was all that was required as his skilful and insightful direction of his two superb performers took us, the audience, on a rollercoaster ride of emotion. Although the subject matter could be traumatic for some, John and his cast had worked hard to handle everything considerately and with sensitivity. He had obviously worked his cast hard to elicit such commanding performances.
Angela Ellis gave a stunning performance capturing every nuance of emotion felt by Maddie in the present, as well as painting a picture of her quirkiness in the flashback scenes. She seamlessly switched into the other characters and the rapport between her and Nigel Leslie was the lynchpin of their success.
Nigel Leslie was equally brilliant going from the comatose Jeremy to pre-crash Jeremy and even portraying his former girlfriend. A superlative performance.
The actors are helped along in their changes of character by Craig Pearcey’s lighting. The subtle changes to denote a character shift and the overall design created an evocative scenescape; this was enhanced by spot-on operation from Alex Di Pietro. Likewise, the sound, designed by John Bishop and operated by Loretta Bishop, evoked just the right mood. The scripted use of John Denver’s ‘Annie’s Song’ and Ms Ellis’s haunting a cappella rendition at the end of the play was breathtaking.
I’m often moved to tears when watching theatre, films, etc, but it is not often that I’m still dabbing at my eyes some time after the performance has concluded and I’m standing in the foyer, let alone now, whilst writing his review. Thank you John, Angela and Nigel for an exceptional night in the theatre.
Deborah Fabbro – Theatrecraft
It’s fair to say that a great deal of love has gone into understanding and realising every emotional nuance in the play. It’s a stellar production from Swampfox and 1812 should be justifiably proud to have the production under their banner.
For just their first performance to an audience, as a preview to the official opening night, it was hard to fault this compelling yet tender play. I expected to come away feeling confronted by the story line but instead I came away feeling satisfied I had seen a high quality play that left me thinking – and with a strong desire to write out a will that includes what music I’d like played at my own funeral.
This is the non-professional premiere of Killing Jeremy and if you’re not a local to the 1812 Theatre it would be worth the trip to take a look at this beautiful and compelling play.
Experienced director, John Mills, has delivered a powerful play that is only undermined by some flaws in the book itself. With less narration the tension in the play would not rise and fall so frequently, although some audience members may appreciate this break in the tension and enjoy the lighter moments of Dorothy’s story-telling.
Overall, The Peach Season is powerful reminder of the painful struggle parents must face as they learn to let go.
This is Community Theatre of the highest order. Some critics may find the play over-sentimental, but it’s a play with real heart and genuine affection, presented here by a team that puts its heart – and soul – on the line. A wonderful night capped off with the customary 1812 supper and champagne.
This is a well delivered and expertly paced play that will make you smile, pull your heart strings and perhaps even bring a tear to the eye. Worth a look – whichever generation you belong to.
It’s not an easy play emotionally, and it cannot have the same impact on us, the audience in Australia some 13 years later, as it must have had when it opened in New York just 12 weeks to the day after the Towers came down. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful piece, far removed from the usual excellent but more middle-of –the-road offerings at 1812.
The play is showing at The Bakery – and it is definitely baked to perfection.
Lepan-Walker and Jones should be commended for the huge volume of dialogue they had to memorise and deliver with such heart and compassion.
While we may feel somewhat removed from the actual event itself watching this play in Melbourne some 13 years later, The Guys will gently stir the emotions, bring a smile and possibly a tear or two.
Certainly one of MY highlights of the past week was the opening night performance of Dads’ Army by the 1812 Theatre group at their venue in Upper Ferntree Gully. I was amazed and impressed by the professionalism of this group and the attention to detail that really enhanced the night.
Wartime posters decorated the foyer and an air raid siren mustered the audience to enter the theatre.
A really enjoyable evening ended with the cast “mingling and chatting” while we enjoyed a delicious supper and bubbly!
I recommend it very highly and eagerly await their next production.
If you’re a fan of Dad’s Army, this play is a must-see. While it’s not perfect, neither were the Home Guard – and that’s what made the sitcom so funny: the awkward incompetency of this group of men as they considered how they could defend their country.
If you’re too young to remember Dad’s Army, go along for an entertaining night of theatre and a bit of a history lesson.
Though this wasn’t the company’s greatest offering it was still an enjoyable night out, well worth the long drive, and the sumptuous champagne supper that 1812 provides after every show is always a welcome extra.
It is somewhat of a bold choice for the mainstream 1812 Theatre crowd, but the audience seemed to love the brazen humour. While there were a few opening night glitches, this has all the makings a very good production.
Beyond Therapy is a bit naughty, a little absurd and very, very funny. Be prepared for a good laugh.
If you enjoy provocative and confronting theatre, and unresolved endings that will remain with you well after you leave the theatre, don’t miss Motortown. The performances are outstanding and once again, demonstrate the high quality of community theatre. Just make sure you hang around after the show and debrief with the cast over the complimentary supper – you’ll need to.
The roughness around the edges simply gave us more flavour. Add to this 1812’s generous tradition of pre-show drinks, a free programme, and a delightful champagne supper, and this has to be the best value for a night’s entertainment in the outer suburbs.
Director Anne Simmons has delivered a wonderfully silly and hilarious opening season for The 1812 Theatre. The laughs started in the opening moments and continued until the very end. Not all comedies have the audience still laughing as they exit the theatre, but this comedy does. There was laughter in the foyer and even laughter in the toilets, with exclamations of “I’ve never seen anything like that before!”
Certainly not a laugh was missed as the cast mined the text for every vein of humour – but there was poignancy too, topped off with a feel good ending. It was a good choice for 1812 to tackle, rewarded with enthusiastic applause and a good vibe from the audience throughout.
This is fun night of theatre and worth taking a look at one the very few comedies written by David Williamson – just don’t take the one-liners seriously.
This is another feather in 1812’s cap, and bound to figure in Community Theatre Awards. The residents in The Ranges are very lucky – but if you’re closer to town, make the trip. It’s well worth it.
This is a high quality production and easily matches anything you could see professionally. Tickets are selling fast, with some shows already sold out. Two new shows have been added to meet the demand. Definitely worth seeing, sitting at the edge of the lounge room and buckling yourself in for the roller-coaster ride that is God of Carnage.
Having not seen the movie of Sleuth, I had no idea of the storyline and the play kept me guessing what was real and what was illusion to the very end. Director Malcolm Sussman writes in the program’s director’s notes: “We hope tonight’s entertainment will surprise, delight and startle you in equal measures.” It certainly did.
Overall, this is a delightful play and again, demonstrates the talent of The 1812 Theatre company in producing comedies of a high calibre. Fans of The Vicar of Dibley will be entranced. Somehow Grant and her talented cast have taken four hilarious and well loved television episodes and made them even funnier for the stage. If you enjoy The Vicar of Dibley on television, this play is a must see!
The philosophy of Swamp Fox Productions is to produce “projects we consider to be of undeniable quality, that never get an ‘airing’ by the established groups; who may consider them to be too marginal or niche to have mass appeal.” They have succeeded. Past Perfect is a compelling tale that lingers. It’s the sort of theatre that causes the audience to pause and take a breath before applauding at the end, to stop and just ponder before moving out of their seats, and to discuss what they’ve just witnessed with complete strangers in the foyer.
This is fun night of theatre and worth taking a look at one the very few comedies written by David Williamson – just don’t take the one-liners seriously.
I haven’t laughed this much in many years. Together with my old performing partner who accompanied me, we’ve spent some eighty years doing comedy. We’re hard to please. And yet we were almost sliding off the seats with laughter. I just hope this production isn’t too early in the year for judges to remember when the theatre awards come around, because it deserves to be honoured. 1812 Theatre has excelled itself with this absolute corker of a side-splitting play. You really must see it.
This was a surprisingly hilarious night of theatre and really, there is very little to fault. It works on every level and had the audience in stitches. This is a high energy play and I hope the cast can deliver this same exceptional standard for every performance. If you enjoy comedy farce I would highly recommend this latest offering by The 1812.