Theatre review: The Red Chair, Q Theatre

By Paul Simei-Barton

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Actress Roz Turnbull in The Red Chair. Photo / Supplied
Actress Roz Turnbull in The Red Chair. Photo / Supplied

The inaugural production from Dionysos announces a serious commitment to musical theatre with a song cycle presented in an elegant cabaret set-up that has the audience seated at small tables.

The decidedly eclectic song selection offers a tantalising glimpse of the vast range of musical theatre with familiar classics scattered amongst gems from shows that are unlikely to ever be produced in New Zealand.

The sampled productions include a musical Boy George wrote as salute to the 1980's New Romantic movement and a Broadway adaptation of a Pedro Almodovar movie intriguingly titled Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Director Aaron Tindell has artfully woven the songs into an implied narrative about the romantic obsession but the connections are more thematic than dramatic and the show might have been more engaging if a MC had introduced the diverse contexts from which the songs were drawn.

A highly professional quartet under the direction of Robin Kelly creates a sparkling musical setting in which the talented quartet of performers all find opportunities to shine.

Andrew Laing brings a world-weary tone to A Women is a Sometime Thing and delivers an achingly romantic evocation of unrequited in Kurt Weill's It Never Was You.

Roz Turnbull's theatrical style catches the naughtiness of a S&M themed torch song by Stephen Sondheim and finds a rich vein of irony in a piece about a women threatening suicide to win the attention of an apathetic husband.

The haunting emotional power of Melissa Nordhaus's voice is displayed in a disturbing song about child abuse taken from a Broadway musical inspired by the controversial playwright Frank Wedekind.

Will Barling lends a soulful shading to My Funny Valentine and is electrifying in a slow-burning interpretation of I (Who Have Nothing) - the Leiber-Stoller classic that was a huge hit for Tom Jones.

What: The Red Chair
Where: Q Theatre until October 6

- NZ Herald

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