Art and soul: Bontom’s Unfinished Works

Like all good plays ‘about’ an issue, Thomas de Angelis’ Unfinished Works is simultaneously about and not about art. While it also, certainly, covers being an artist, making art, and delves into issues of artistic integrity, honesty, and the entire history of Western art’s habit of celebrating Big Name Artists over the content or substance of their work, Unfinished Works is also a story about parents and children, about growing up and leaving the nest, about friendship, relationships, and about people connecting with each other.
Produced by Bontom and playing in the Seymour Centre’s Reginald Theatre, Unfinished Works is about an artist, Frank Ralco, who has been commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art and has two weeks remaining in which to complete the piece. After a meeting with a builder-cum-property developer, and still unable to paint, Ralco forms a friendship with Isabel, an aspiring artist, and the two hatch a plan to test the power of their art, and change the course of their lives.


Garden-variety tragedy: STC & STCSA’s Machu Picchu

Sue Smith’s latest play Machu Picchu is, glibly, about “finding hope amidst the ruins” of a relationship. Following a car accident, husband and wife Paul and Gabby must navigate their way around the complications and learn to love each other despite their physical barriers, and try and cling onto the shred of hope they have left as good people to be able to lead good, fulfilling, ‘normal’ lives. Smith’s play is about the “garden variety tragedy,” as director Geordie Brookman writes in his director’s note – “the sort of life changing-event that could impact any one of us at any moment.” The only trouble is, the play isn’t terribly compelling, nor does it offer any particular insights into the human condition or make any credible argument as to how to live a ‘good’ life despite the setbacks, hardships, and tragedies.


Terror Firma: Malthouse’s Picnic at Hanging Rock

The story of Picnic at Hanging Rock is seared into our collective conscience, and has become a key part of our national mythology as both a thing of beauty and a force of terror. Written by Joan Lindsay in 1967, the story tells of a group of young women, students from Appleyard College, who have a picnic at Hanging Rock on St Valentine’s Day, 1900, and inexplicably vanish during an afternoon expedition. Filmed by Peter Weir in 1975, the story was fast-tracked into our cultural imagination, and has become an iconic story that plays upon our insecurities about possession, sexuality, colonialism, and mankind’s control over nature. Now, in the hands of playwright Tom Wright and director Matthew Lutton, Melbourne’s Malthouse theatre brings Lindsay’s novel to the professional stage for the first time, and capitalises on the story’s eeriness and terror, as well as its latent sexuality and potency.


Star-crossed: Bell Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Alongside A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet is surely one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays. Even if we’ve never seen or studied the play, we know its story from the plot of countless films, books, artworks, pieces of music created over the centuries. In his first production since assuming the reigns of Bell Shakespeare, Peter Evans goes back to the Bard and gives us a Romeo and Juliet that might be clothed in period costume but act and behave like contemporary teenagers. And like Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive reimagining set in the fictional Verona Beach, Evans’ production is for the most part strong and accomplished.