This year I saw some amazing theatre in Melbourne, as
always, and I was lucky enough to visit London for the first time, where I saw
some wonderful West End theatre and some really inventive off-West End and independent
The thing about the theatre in London is that is really
seems to be working toward the ideal of diverse casting, even if
behind-the-scenes (writers, directors) are still male-dominated. And it’s not
just in reinventions of shows like Death of a Salesman, which was a
mostly black cast; a lot of shows I saw there were female-focused with racially
That said, I did see a show that was ostensibly about
race, which was all white.
I saw some shows again this year, which were as great as
when I originally saw them, but they have been on previous year-end lists, so
sorry to Hamilton, Muriel’s Wedding and Cock – you’re not
on my list again this year.
The lists are in alphabetical order and links in titles to review where available. TOP TEN
Flick, known on Instagram as Flick.Eats, and George, known
on Tumblr as Boyance, are social media influencers. Flick.Eats posts FODMAP
recipes and Boyance is living his best gay life online, but both are lies –
constructions of the kind of personalities that get likes and shares and
re-blogs. When Microsoft releases a new artificial intelligence bot onto
Twitter – Tay, whose followers are #TaysTeam – the world of fake online
personas gets trickier to navigate.
Who are Flick and George, really? Do they even know anymore? Disinhibition plunges the audience right into the
internet, the opening scene a perfect recreation of a Twitter interaction:
someone posts a photo of their cute dog, lots of other users retweet it and someone
@s the original poster, telling them their dog is prettier than they are. All
social niceties are gone; people will say anything to each other online.
Presented by Monash University Student Theatre (MUST) and directed
with a sure hand and clear intent by Artistic …
“What year is this?” Dale Cooper asks in the final scene of Twin Peaks: The Return, the last of many
unanswered questions left as the 18-part feature film concluded a week ago.
It’s far from the first time we’ve seen someone who looks like
Dale Cooper lost for answers over recent months. But it might be the first time
we have definitive proof that he’s in over his head.
Mr C, Dale Cooper’s doppelganger, who was first seen in the
original series’ finale back in 1991, returned to the town of Twin Peaks with a
goal in mind. Mr C was flexible, though. He had to be; he’d set so many things
in motion over twenty-five years, if he’d remained fixated, he would never have
come as far as he did.
Dougie, Dale Cooper’s tulpa – created by and from Mr C,
wandered aimlessly through life, but slowly made every life he touched better.
Plans change and Dougie changed with them. Slowly but surely, Dougie pieced
together Cooper’s past life and became richer for it.
Agent Cooper, the third part of this T…
The crew of a space ship, dressed in bold primary colours,
rock from left to right in front of us, as they try to keep control of their
craft. The group is racially diverse but it’s the white guy, a larrakin Aussie
from Melbourne, who boldly steps forward to save the day. “It’s something I have
Keziah Warner’s Control, a science fiction triptych,
begins with a scene of broad comedy, a nod to Star Trek and then jumps
back in time to see how this crew ended up in such a dramatic situation. Starting
a story in media res can be a pretty tired trope, but here Keziah uses
it as a dramaturgical sleight-of-hand; this story is much more complicated than
it first appears to be.
A pregnant woman, a puppeteer, a singer and a detective have
been hand-picked to be on this space ship, leave Earth and strive to survive in
“Fifteen Minutes on Mars” – a Big Brother-type reality show that is manoeuvring
this ensemble toward interstellar cabin fever.
Twenty years later, in a library that promises…
Arriving on a space station orbiting the planet Solaris, Kris
Kelvin (Leeanna Walsman) is confronted by beings who are almost human, while
digging through the digital archives of Dr Gibarian (Hugo Weaving), who
recently died. She must try to understand what these creatures are and what
other mysteries lie on the planet below, under the roiling oceans that cover
Like the Malthouse’s other current production, Wake in
Fright, David Grieg’s new play is based on a novel that has also previously
been a film. In fact, Stanislaw Lem’s book has been adapted into two films,
several operas and a play or two before this. It’s no surprise that it would
inspire great filmmakers and playwrights to bring their own versions to life;
alien entities, memory and lost loved ones are all rich elements with which to
explore the themes of loneliness and otherness.
Designer Hyemi Shin creates a cool, minimalist environment that’s
efficiently modular; its swiftly moving doors and sliding panels e…
Once upon a time... I tried to write a film script that melded noir and Grimm’s fairytales, where the femme fatale, clad in a slinky red dress, was also (in a way) Little Red Riding Hood. Where the lover of a hit man discovered his true identity from something hidden under his mattress. Evil (step)mothers, adopted children, hunters, princesses and family fortunes. Noir and fairytales have a lot in common and yet... I had real trouble finding the right tone for the piece. And, in the end, my script read too much like I was trying to get the concept to work, rather than telling a compelling story.
Joe Wright’s film HANNA, screenplay by Seth Lockhead and David Farr, finds the perfect balance between a high tension thriller and a fairytale coming-of-age story. And travels further into the story of this mysterious girl than the trailer suggests. Going in, I was worried this might be too close to Leon or La Femme Nikita – the original films of which I throughly enjoyed, but would this new fil…
It’s that time of year again, when I look back over
everything I saw on stage and put together a list of my favourite shows. I saw
over 100 shows this year, mostly in Melbourne and a small number on one visit
I will link to reviews if I wrote one. TOP TEN (alphabetical order) The Almighty Sometimes – Griffin Theatre, Sydney
Kendall Feaver’s extraordinary debut play is about Anna,
dealing with mood disorders and medication and the complicated relationship she
has with the treatments and her mother. Superb cast and beautifully directed by
Lee Lewis Blackie Blackie Brown – Malthouse Theatre
Nakkiah Lui’s work is always amazing but this production,
directed by Declan Green, was another step up for her – the satire sharper and
bleaker and more hilarious than ever before. Blasted – Malthouse Theatre
Sarah Kane’s debut play from 1990s London is a tricky beast
tackling difficult subjects but Anne-Louise Sarks nailed it with a superb
production. The Bleeding Tree – Arts Centre Melbourne …
Last year, Garry Starr explored every genre of theatre in
order to try to save it. Now that he’s saved theatre, he wants to make sure
actors out there know how to be the best skilled actor (or, skactor) they can
be. Garry has written a book called “An Actor Pretends” about the history of
Chapter by chapter, Garry’s vast knowledge of being a triple
threat is explored on stage in front of our very eyes. He explains how to
audition for a director when you’re waiting on them in a restaurant. He tells
us how to act when we inevitably move to Hollywood and get botox and we can’t
move our face. And then there’s his unconventional method for learning lines by
Rubber-faced actor and comedian Damien Warren-Smith is so
damn charismatic that he’ll have you on his side within minutes – and have some
of you up on stage as part of Team Garry, if you dare. If you don’t want to participate,
don’t sit in the front row like I did; though my moment in the spotlight only
A young man sips a glass of wine, waiting for us to file
into the theatre, while Kylie plays. As we settle in, he’s a long way from
settled – nervous, anxious, eager to tell us about a dream he’s had. Even
though he knows that when most people recount dreams, they are dead boring.
He’s a country boy who has moved to the big city – let’s
call it Sydney – for university. He’s sleeping on his uncle’s couch and after
being shown the expected touristy sites, he starts to explore the world by
He’s gay and he’s never seen a penis other than his own. He’s
drawn to a busker singing “My Heart Will Go On” and shaken up by two dude-bros
shouting at gay couple kissing.
“Stop shoving it down our throats,” they shout, unaware of how
unintentionally homoerotic they sound. The guy whose story we’ve been
following, decides to follow them.
And this is just the start of the first vignette in a series
of short moments by Chris Edwards exploring queer sex and relationships in this
A man is dead, we’re told. A good man. A man with a job. Not
a drunk. Not homeless. He’s a hero really. Just wanted to help Lolita and now
We’re told this story – this anecdote – by a trio of young women,
friends of Lolita, who have known her from a very young age. In fact, there’s
some question about who knew her better and who knew her the longest. Because
the better they knew Lolita, the better they might understand her. And the more
they understand her, the more righteously they can pass judgement.
Lolita was a carefree child. Used to love riding a bike.
Ride it fast. Feel the ache in her legs and sweat on her face. All she had to
worry about was staying on the bike and enjoying her lovely, lovely life. She
stopped riding bikes when she was nine-years-old.
Her friends tell us that everything changed for Lolita when
she turned eight and grew breasts. Huge ones. When she was eight years old. A
child with breasts. And boys went into a frenzy. As did her grade five teacher…