Skip to main content

My Favourite Theatre of 2013

This year I saw shows in Melbourne and Sydney. The Top Ten are my favourite shows of the year, but the Next Ten are basically all in eleventh place. After a slow start to the year, the Melbourne Theatre Company’s NEON Festival kicked things into high gear – and after that, the rest of the year was full of exciting, imaginative, passionate and memorable theatre.

Note: these are listed in alphabetical order

THE TOP TEN

ANGELS IN AMERICA: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES & PERESTROIKA – Belvoir
The classic American play about AIDS in Reagan’s America in a stunning production at Belvoir.



BY THEIR OWN HAND – The Hayloft Project, Neon Festival/MTC
Hayloft shakes up Oedipus in this smart triptych.

LIFE AND TIMES, PARTS 1 to 4 – The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, Melbourne Festival
A ten-hour epic that played out in the Playhouse, bringing an audience of 600 together to experience a life (and their own lives) in a way we’ll never forget.

NIGHT MAYBE – Stuck Pigs Squealing, Theatre Works
It’s difficult to put into words how beautiful this show was, not to mention how moving and intelligent, passionate and insightful. Theatrical perfection.



NO CHILD... – Nilaja Sun, Theatre Works
Sometimes, all you need, is one woman on stage playing a couple of dozen characters. A tour-de-force.

ROOM OF REGRET – The Rabble, Theatre Works, Melbourne Festival
And sometimes you need a maze of rooms and corridors and a strong company to lead you through their unforgettable take on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

SAVAGES – Forty-Five Downstairs
Patricia Cornelius’ poetic and penetrating and powerful examination of masculinity and misogyny.

THE BLOODY CHAMBER – Malthouse
A masterful stage adaptation of Angela Carter’s short story. Theatre making at the absolute top of its game.



THE MAIDS – STC
Benedict Andrews. Andrew Upton. Cate Blanchett. Isabelle Huppert. Elizabeth Debicki. Jean Genet’s The Maids. Seriously, what else needs to be said? Black comic perfection.

THE SOVEREIGN WIFE – Sixxters Grimm, Neon Festival/MTC
Declan Greene and Ash Flander’s bring their unique sensibility to an epic story of Australia. A fitting end to the Neon Festival, with a few digs at conservative theatre companies for good measure. Hilarious and biting.


THE NEXT TEN

COLUMBINE – MUST Theatre, Daniel Lammin
Daniel Lammin’s devised and verbatim meditation on the Columbine massacre. Sharp and devastating.



CONSTELLATIONS – MTC
Sometimes life turns on the words you choose to say and those left unspoken. Parallel universes and a performance for the ages from Alison Bell.

MENAGERIE – Daniel Schlusser Ensemble, Neon Festival/MTC
A tribute to Tennessee William’s work and creative process. Brilliant and untamed.

ON THE BODILY EDUCATION OF YOUNG GIRLS – Fraught Outfit, Neon Festival, MTC
An almost silent meditation on youth, puberty and the traps of a rote education.

PALACE OF THE END – Theatre Works
Three tragic monologues that take three different points of view on the American invasion of Iraq. Performances and direction, magic.



PERSONA – Fraught Outfit, Malthouse
By every right, a stage adaptation of the film Persona should not work. Adena Jacobs pulls off the impossible.

SOLOMON AND MARION – MTC
A lovely little surprise at the Melbourne Theatre Company, that didn’t need star power to pull it off.

SUMMERTIME IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN – Sixxters Grimm, Theatre Works
Southern melodrama was never so hilarious. What a cast. What a script. What a crocheted set!

SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE – Opera Victoria
Sondheim’s masterpiece on the creative process is precise and delicate and very moving.



THE CHERRY ORCHARD – MTC
Simon Stone is let loose at the Melbourne Theatre Company and while the arguments about adaptations continued around him, this show proved what a smart theatre maker he is.


THE HONOURABLE MENTIONS

BECAUSE OF REASONS – Five Pounds of Repertory Theatre

GYPSY – The Production Company

OTHER DESERT CITIES – MTC

ROTPETER – Butterfly Club

SHADOWS OF ANGELS – The Owl and the Pussycat

SONGS FOR EUROPE – Melbourne Fringe

STORIES I WANT TO TELL YOU IN PERSON – Malthouse

SUPER DISCOUNT – Back-to-Back Theatre, Malthouse

WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT – Malthouse

ZOO STORY – Revolt Theatre


Note:  Before you ask, I didn’t see The Rabble’s Story of O at the Neon Festival. Probably my biggest regret of the year. I also didn’t see much at Melbourne Fringe, but that was around the time I needed a break.

Favourite Theatre of 2012

Favourite Theatre of 2011

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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

Careful the things you say... Joe Wright’s HANNA & the combination of genres

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. Saoirse Ronan as Hanna 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 t

You are far away: Agent Cooper and his troubling return to Twin Peaks

“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, th

Carrie Fisher: No More Postcards

Two Princess Leias, a medal and some broken jewellry Did I ever tell you about the time Carrie Fisher kissed me on the cheek? Stick around, I’ll tell it again soon. Carrie Fisher was Princess Leia; no getting past that. Except, of course, she did. And then she stepped right back into being her last year. She was the right person to play Leia because she was the right age at the time and she is part of Hollywood royalty. She was also the right person to have been Leia in retrospect, too. Can you imagine anyone else describing Jabba the Hutt as a “giant saliva testicle”? Anyone else who would bring an audience member up on stage to mount a Leia “sex doll” and whip it away before they get close enough to fulfil their childhood fantasy? Actors, even those of Star Wars­­­ -level fame, go in and out of the spotlight. Oh, you could spot Fisher on screen in the 1980s and 90s, but much of her hard work went on behind the scenes, as a script writer and script doctor. Hook , Sist

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes: THE AVENGERS assemble on the big screen

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 for. 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 warrior

Colder by Lachlan Philpott - Red Stitch

Colder Photo: Teresa Noble I’m there. I’m sitting there in the dark. Sitting there in the dark watching a play by Lachlan Philpott at Red Stitch. A child has gone missing at Disneyland but nothing evokes Disneyland for me, not even the actors wearing mouse ears. Especially not the actors wearing mouse ears and affecting exaggerated American accents. I want to feel what the mother is feeling, while officious behind-the-scenes Disney workers assure her everything is going to be fine. I want a sense of her being frantic and frustrated. But I don’t get this sense because the language of the play is putting me at a distance. The expository monologues don’t paint a picture or flesh out a world beyond the very basic (“padded concrete, padded seats”) and the facile (“padded people”). This choral arrangement of voices is not singing. Eight-year-old David remains missing all day and we learn that his single mother has felt separate from him ever since. We ar

Walking out... I couldn't do it, could you?

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

REVIEW: This Genuine Moment by Jacob Parker - Midsumma

Christmas Eve. A bedroom. Two strangers, their limbs entangled; the doona cover and pillows hiding their identities just a little while longer. Riley wakes first to chimes from his mobile phone; an alarm or an early morning text message. He carefully manoeuvres himself away from last night’s hook-up and drags himself out of bed. His family are coming over for dinner and he’s got to clean up his new apartment before they arrive. But first thing is first, he’s got to get rid of “L” – the man he slept with last night, whose name escapes him right now in his early-morning, hangover fog. L doesn’t seem in a hurry to leave, though. He’s checking his messages; friends are texting photos of their Christmas Eve barbeque, trying to talk him into coming over. He’s not sure he wants to. He’s also sending messages to someone in his phone known only as FUTRE HUSBND and ignoring texts from his dad. Riley, in a haze, is trying to put the pieces together from the night before. He got wasted at

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: 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