In a time where the fundamental elements of marriage are under scrutiny in Australia, theatre company Watch This slings together a cast and crew who are equal parts talented and intelligent enough to pull off the Sondheim provocation... Michael Ralph's choreography is frantic yet fine-tuned to the space and super enjoyable. The band matches slickly to the cast and the low-lit colours of the piece under Lucy O’Brien’s music direction... Some incredible performances in a pretty stellar ensemble, smart laughs and dagger-sharp banter pull us from the hips into the metropolitan lives of these New Yorkers. Come for the cake, stay for the people. Astounding. ☆☆☆☆☆
Simpson-Deeks is a formidable anchor as the reluctant Robert. His high tenor is comfortable and warm ... he manages to bring a fragility and emotional intensity to the part that proves galvanising. It is a pitch echoed in Sally Bourne's Joanne, whose brittleness constantly threatens to topple into outright hostility... In the more broadly comic roles, Carina Waye is a delight as the ditzy flight attendant April, and Johanna Allen is superb as Jenny. Her scene with Robert and husband David (Mark Dickinson), sharing a joint, is a comic highlight, even if it soon veers off into darker territory. ☆☆☆☆
Forty-five years after its premiere, Company is as fresh and troubling — as knotty and brilliantly glib — as a good episode of Sex and the City ... An exceptionally strong piece of theatre... I don’t think I’ve seen a better acted musical since Gale Edwards directed Aspects Of Love. Marilyn Monroe couldn't play the "dumb" flight -attendant April any better than Carina Waye. She's hard to watch at times. Sally Bourne is a scintillating Joanne, Bobby’s cynical and multiply divorced friend. As Joanne's husband Larry, Nathan Carter looks like he's strayed from a classy German porno, all skivvy and curvy-rimmed specs. Gillian Cosgriff and Nelson Gardner turn cliche into truism as the about-to-be-divorced Susan and Peter. The antics of John O'Hara and Nicole Melloy are as hypercoloured as a tray of jelly shots. And about as much fun. The production, too, is tightly choreographed (by Michael Ralph) and well-rehearsed.
Nicole Melloy is delightful as Sarah with a formidable voice, Sonya Suares handles her prenuptial breakdown with aplomb as Amy, and Sally Bourne [...] belts out Ladies Who Lunch with the same drunken ferocity immortalised by Elaine Stritch in the Broadway/West End original. Company holds its own in an era of high divorce and non-traditional relationships. Its honest look of love — "you’re scared she’s starting to drift away / and scared she'll stay" (Sorry-Grateful) — resonates as much now as ever. It's Sondheim at his most naked, and arguably at his best.
The cast are sublime [...] In fact, the creative team have likewise done a spectacular job. The choreography by Michael Ralph was inventive and finely detailed [...] Costume design by Zoe Rouse carefully managed a balance between current fashion and the 1970s era in which the show is set [...] the direction and staging was flawless. A sparse and economical set by Eugyeene Teh was transformed under the direction of Kat Henry into the multitude of locations required, and Henry’s tight direction kept the momentum going through the quietest of scenes. [...] There is something so much more engaging and compelling, particularly in an intimate show like Company, to hear the performers under the musical direction of Lucy O'Brien without the filter of amplification [...] Watch This have presented a brilliant production of Company.
Comic acting is the strong suit in Kat Henry's production. The performers bring a zest and psychological astuteness to George Furth's mordant vignettes: the couple taking out their latent aggression through competitive abstinence (and eventually karate), another reliving their misspent youth in a haze of marijuana smoke. Hilarious stuff. Nick Simpson-Deeks sings and acts with delicate precision as Robert, the compulsory third wheel. And Carina Waye, Madeleine Mackenzie and Bianca Baykara are terrific in You 'Could Drive A Person Crazy', the Andrews Sisters-like pastiche sung by Robert's lovers.
As Harry, John O'Hara gives a fine performance alongside Nicole Melloy, his wife Sarah. Act I's karate demonstration in 'The Little Things You Do Together' is impressive and Johanna Allen is a hoot as the stoned, unknowingly innuendo-speak Jenny. As the sarcastic, smoking, third-time married Joanne, Sally Bourne [...] gave Act II's 'The Ladies Who Lunch' a good scathing. But nothing shines brighter than Robert's trio of girlfriend all-sorts as they step out singing and dancing in 'You Could Drive a Person Crazy' with blastedly great fun.
Wonderfully coherent ensemble who never faltered, energy, concentration... what I have come to expect from Watch This productions: full on excellence.
You should rush out and see Company with its idiosyncratic music, bevy of bonkers characters and witty but wise reflections on relationships in a modern world.