KICKING ALONG David Williamson announced his premature retirement in 2005 because of a health condition but it seems audiences are still lining up to see his portrayals of middle Australia battle it out. A national tour of his play, Let the Sunshine, which was produced by the Melbourne Theatre Company in 2010, will end on Friday and Saturday at the Athenaeum Theatre. The story is a populist social satire about 60-something sea-changers and their children in Noosa that demonstrates Williamson's ability to sketch vivid caricatures from life interspersed with witty one-liners. The cast (above) including Dennis Coard, Alexandra Fowler, Toni Scanlan and Peter Phelps, have taken the show to nearly 70 centres.
TAKING FLIGHT The reopening of Hamer Hall is not the only activity at Arts Centre Melbourne this week. The South Australian company, Slingsby, which aims to reach both adults and children, returns with a coming-of-age story, Man Covets Bird, for solo performer Nathan O'Keefe (pictured). He plays a character who grows up suddenly and has to leave home accompanied only by a flightless bird he meets outside his window. The award-winning company was last at the Arts Centre two years ago with the internationally acclaimed The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy. The show will be open to the public for two performances next Saturday after school performances from tomorrow.
BLUE ROOM Sigrid Thornton and Marcus Graham attracted national attention when they starred in the Melbourne Theatre Company's production of David Hare's The Blue Room in 2003. Now Richmond's independent company, 5pound theatre, is staging it at the Owl and the Pussycat with Kaitlyn Clare and Zak Zavod playing the five different couples who meet and mate in different environments. The female role was first performed by Nicole Kidman, in London and New York, where she famously appeared naked. 5pound director Jason Cavanagh says the play is well-crafted and "honest in a way you rarely see", before adding, "And it's a bit sexy, too." The MTC production topped the company's subscription list for the year.
TOURING GRANTS Jack Charles (pictured) has been almost constantly on the road with his one-man show about his life, Jack Charles v the Crown, since it opened at the 2010 Melbourne Festival. His travelling is set to continue after the announcement of the latest touring grants worth more than $500,000 by Premier and Arts Minister Ted Baillieu. Charles' production company, Ilbijerri, will get $36,000, while KAGE Theatre will receive $83,000 for the Victorian leg of a national tour of Sundowner, which explores the plight of Alzheimer's disease through physical theatre. Four children's shows will also be seen in regional Victoria Possum Magic gets $52,000, The Day My Bum Went Psycho $36,000, Polyglot Theatre's Muckheap $12,000 and Dirty Work Comedy's Sticks Stones Broken Bones $10,000. The biggest allocation of $140,000 went to