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REVIEW: Because the Night – Malthouse Theatre

Belinda McClory as Gertrude in Because the Night When Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith wrote the song “Because the Night” in 1977, I doubt they were thinking about Hamlet and Ophelia – the song about desire and lust does not really describe the fractured couple of Shakespeare’s play. Springsteen was writing the song for himself to sing, but struggled with it until his sound engineer, Jimmy Iovine, who was working with Smith at the time, introduced the pair. Together they created Patti Smith’s first and, arguably, greatest hit. Theatre, as with song writing, is hugely collaborative, even if we often elevate singer-songwriters and playwrights above the rest of the creative collective. Immersive theatre turns up the viscerality in all areas of the experience of watching a performance. You’re closer to the actors, the sets, the lights and the sound. You’re within a world where you can appreciate details you would never see on stage: drawings, notes, letters, photographs, the feel of dirt
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REVIEW: BURN THIS by Lanford Wilson

  Mark Diaco as Pale in Burn This After attending the funeral of her roommate Robbie, and his partner Dom, killed in a freak boating accident, Anna and her other roommate, Larry, must deal with the heartbreak of their sudden loss. Soon joining them is Anna’s long-time boyfriend, Burton, and later – in the middle of the night – Robbie’s brother, Pale. Together, they dance around their feelings, trying to deal with their grief – alternating between opening up to each other and shutting down. Lanford Wilson’s play was first performed off-Broadway in 1987 and while the text gives the actors a lot to play with, this new production at 45 Downstairs made me wonder, “Why now?” The question is a double-edged sword; some plays are just so good, that reviving them can be relevant any time. Some plays, even if they are dated, can feel like interesting time capsules – an insight into a time gone by, a world that no longer exists. “Why now” can be a question for creatives, to dig into why it’s a

Returning to COME FROM AWAY

  “You are here At the start of a moment On the edge of the world…” I first saw Come from Away on stage eighteen months ago , though I had listened to the cast recording before that and had seen a staged development reading, streamed online many years ago. Back before streaming theatre and readings was a regular occurrence. A lot has changed in the last year and a half. When I first saw the show, it was moving and uplifting piece of history – based on the real lives of people in Gander, Newfoundland on September 11 th , 2001. It sparked memories of that day, for good and bad, and reminded me of the human-interest stories from the time – from Gander itself, but also of communities all over working together to deal with the traumatic fallout from the day. Returning to the show, as well as to large-scale musical-theatre for the first time since the pandemic closed theatres across the world in March 2020, the show felt much more present, more real and was a far more emotional ex

REVIEW: And Then She Became A Chair by Michelle Myers

  Michelle Myers in And Then She Became A Chair A woman emerges from the darkness, head covered, moving slowly, weighted bags are attached to her dress and drag along the ground behind her. She is in a waiting room. A doctor’s office. A hospice. Inside a commercial begging her to start a new life in Queensland. This is purgatory. Michelle Myer’s one-woman performance, And Then She Became A Chair , is an unsettling, confronting and poetic study in grief. We watch as a woman deals with the inevitable death of her mother, remembering absurd moments of her life, of their lives, in the years, weeks and days leading up to… C.S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed , a reflection on the passing of his wife, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” And it’s this observation that Michelle explores in this work – grief being the fear of loss, the fear of the unknown and the fear of what comes next. It’s interesting that the first work of theatre I have seen this year is focused so mu

REVIEW: #txtshow (on the internet) - Melbourne Fringe

2020 is the year of Zoom, boxed people on your laptop screen, sometimes trying to talk all at once. Meetings and meet-ups. Lectures and lessons. And because Zoom has become so ubiquitous, it’s also being used more and more creatively. Riot Stage used it to chat to us and stream their short film. Brian Feldman is using it to create his show, day after day. Audience members are welcomed to Zoom and the show, and asked to keep their cameras and their microphones on but to change their onscreen name to “anonymous”. We are to wait until the character of “txt” appears and then we have to start typing. You see “txt” (performed by Brian Feldman) will perform whatever we type into the chat box. No one knows who is typing what and Brian doesn’t know what he’ll be saying until the text appears in the chat. It’s the quickest I’ve ever seen anything I’ve written be performed for an audience. Zoom has been used all year for work and for collaborations. #txtshow is an evolution of that – perhap

REVIEW: Riot Stage Gets Famous - Melbourne Fringe

Early in 2020, Riot Stage – the youth theatre company – was getting ready to launch their show Everyone is Famous at the Next Wave Festival in May. They had been working on it for two years. They even got as far as appearing at the launch for the Festival. Then COVID happened. The members of Riot Stage had to wrestle with what to do next, just like theatre companies all over the world. They wanted to keep making theatre but had to think outside the box. Instead of premiering a show about persona in the age of social media, they made a documentary about trying to get famous in three weeks. Social media connects us all and every platform has its own quirks and expectations. And they all need content. The Riot Stagers launch new accounts to post art, sexually-revealing photographs, thirsty pics of Harry Styles, bad makeup tips from a learner, and reviews of pickles. The goal, of course, is to get as many followers as they can in three weeks. One Riot Stager goes the old-fashioned

REVIEW: Stay at Home, Kasey Gambling – Melbourne Fringe

Have you ever felt trapped at home? I know, it’s 2020. If you can work from home, you must work from home. There are only four reasons to leave your house. You can only leave for one hour a day for exercise. No one can visit. But have you ever felt really trapped at home? And scared? Unable to leave. Four years ago, theatre-maker Kasey Gambling created an immersive audio experience for a single audience member on the streets of North Melbourne called The Maze . It’s still one of the most memorable pieces of art I have ever experienced, headphones in and following a woman on the street. Wearing headphones on the street can get you killed. At home, they should be a form of escape – listen to music, listen to podcasts, phone a friend. And yet, Kasey’s new show, Stay at Home , isn’t an escape. It’s another immersive audio experience, but this time you’re not following a woman, you’re in her shoes. But this is your house. How well do you know your own house? You’d think, after loc

REVIEW: Trash Talk – Tash York, Melbourne Fringe

  I’ve watched a lot of streamed theatre of various kinds during lockdown, as I wrote about here . And even as Melbourne slowly emerges from Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo, we’re still not quite ready for live theatre, so Melbourne Fringe is online for everyone’s enjoyment. I’ve seen many of Tash York’s shows in the past, including the one she did for VCR Fest back in… I dunno. I’ve lost all sense of time. That was a fun hour of cabaret, that was only slightly affected by technical difficulties. But we’re all in this together, learning new technology and how to enjoy a public thing privately. Tash’s brand has always been the heavy-drinking chanteuse, who parties too much and likes to eat late-night nuggets. There are always lyrical twists or complete re-writes to the songs she sings, though. “History Repeating” and “In the Mood” are reinterpreted for our times, 2020 the year from hell. One of the regular features of Tash’s shows is her taking prompts from the audience on a theme

Seeing It Again Through New Eyes: Watching Reaction Videos on YouTube

SesskaSays reacts to the Eleventh Doctor's departure on Doctor Who One of the things I’ve missed during lockdown is watching television with other people. I have some close friends that would regularly get together to watch shows, so we could talk through whatever the hell happened on Westworld or unpack everything we feel watching June suffer over and over again on The Handmaid’s Tale . I’m used to watching television alone, too, but there’s nothing quite like having a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. One of the reasons or excuses I have for watching Twin Peaks countless times is that, over the years, I have introduced a lot of people to the show. I re-watch it because I love it, but I also sit there waiting for their reactions. To the end of season one or the reveal of who killed Laura Palmer. Or the season two finale. And, more recently, to see how they process Part 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return . Back in 2013, after the Game of Thrones episode “The Rains of Castamere”

Streaming/Theatre: Thoughts and feelings on missing an art form

Gillian Anderson in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Young Vic in 2016 I miss theatre. I miss a lot of things but theatre was a weekly fixture in my life. I write plays and I review plays and even if I wasn’t reviewing, watching theatre was always an opportunity to learn more about how theatre worked. And to be entertained. The experience of theatre is ephemeral. A play changes every night. It’s living and breathing. And once it’s gone, it’s gone. And then it turned out the existence of theatre is ephemeral, too. And within a week in March, my thoughts turned from “should I be sitting in a large audience” to “wow, theatres are all closed, I wonder how long this will last”. At the start of the pandemic, I made a pretty conscious decision that I would take time away from playwriting. The world had changed so suddenly and so had my daily life and trying to find the passion and energy for creativity seemed like too much of an extra burden. Fuck all this talk of S