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
“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…
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…
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…
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…
The real-life inspiration for the musical Chicago comes from nearly a century ago,
when reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins reported on two unrelated court cases
about women suspected and acquitted of murder. Watkins later wrote a satirical
play about the attention both cases got, focusing on the media’s sensational
headlines – something Watkins herself fed into.
The play became a silent film in 1927, a 1942 film named Roxie Hart (starring Ginger Rogers), and
later the 1975 musical Chicago, for which
husband and wife creative duo, Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, struggled to get the
rights to make throughout the sixties.
The original Broadway production opened to mixed reviews, as
it was considered cynical and subversive – the opposite of what audiences
wanted from musical theatre. But times change and this black satire about merry
murderesses returned to Broadway in 1996 in a slick, pared-back production,
directed by Walter Bobbie with choreography by Anne Reinking – “in the style of
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
I like superheroes. I grew up with reruns of the 1960s
Batman TV series. The Superman films were released when I was really young. The Amazing Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk were nighttime TV shows. And
one of the defining motion picture releases of my teenage years was Tim Burton’s
Batman in 1989.
I was never a big comic book reader as a kid – I’ve probably
read more comic books, uh, graphic novels in the last ten years than any time
before that. But superheroes were always very cool. And Burton’s Batman took my
favourite superhero very seriously. Well, until Christopher Nolan’s Batman
Begins appeared – taking it ultra-seriously and much darker than I’d ever hoped
As a non-comic reader, I find it hard to align myself as a
DC (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) or Marvel Universe (Spider-Man, X-Men, The
Avengers and its consitutent parts) person. They appeal to different parts of
my brain. In effect, DC’s superheroes are often lone warriors and the Marvel
Every so often, I think about walking out of a play, but I can't. I've never done it and I don't think I ever could. I've never walked out of a film, either. It's not in my nature. In the end, I'd rather suffer through the entire thing so I can criticise the entire play, rather than leave halfway and never know if it got any better or any worse.
This has come to mind now, not because I wanted to walk out of Terence Malick's big budget experimental film The Tree of Life, but because apparently walk outs are becoming a phenomenon with that particular movie. And in a packed theatre at Cinema Nova last night, the walk outs were notable by their absense when the lights came up at the end.
It certainly won't be to everyone's taste. It's very much an impressionistic film that explores grand ideas through mood and beauty, rather than telling a coherent narrative. But, even those moments in the film that were the most challenging on a "need for narr…
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 …