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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

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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
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Blasted – Malthouse Theatre
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The Bleeding Tree – Arts Centre Melbourne