The Playlist: 2016 at the theatre

As with previous years, ‘The Playlist’ is a musical summary of the year’s theatre-going. The rule is (mostly) simple: find a piece of music that encapsulates either the production or my response to it, or both as the case often is. The only catch is I cannot re-use a piece from a previous year, even if it is the same text (return seasons of a production are excused).
Thus follows The Playlist for 2016.

2016, the verdict

Event(s) of the Year
A Midsummer Night’s DreamShakespeare’s Globe
Golem – 1927, presented by STC
Fase, four movements to the music of Steve Reich – Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Sydney Festival
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Theatre for A New Audience

Honourable Mention
Thomas Murray and the Upside Down RiverStone Soup & Griffin Independent
Inner Voices Don’t Look Away
The Literati – Bell Shakespeare & Griffin Theatre Company
Babes in the Woods Don’t Look Away

Dishonourable Mention (or The Shovel)
The Great Fire Belvoir
Twelfth NightBelvoir
Power Plays – STC

Best (New Australian) Play
Skylab, Melodie Reynolds-Diarra (National Play Festival)
The Turquoise Elephant, Stephen Carleton
Picnic at Hanging Rock, Tom Wright, after Joan Lindsay

Best Design (Set, Costume, Lighting, Sound, Other)
David Fleischer (set & costume) – The Golden Age
1927 (projections/lighting/set) – Golem
Andrew Bailey (‘set’) – Lungs
Zjarie Paige-Butterworth (costumes) – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Gabriella Tylesova (set & costume) – A Flea in Her Ear
Luke Smiles (motion laboratories) (soundtrack) – Girl Asleep

A Midsummer Night’s DreamShakespeare’s Globe (live web-stream)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Theatre for A New Audience (filmed)

The ‘Room Temperature’ Award
Things I Know To Be True STCSA & Frantic Assembly


Highly emusing: Don’t Look Away’s Babes in the Woods

An edited version of this piece was published on artsHub.

First produced in 2003 by Melbourne’s Playbox theatre company (now Malthouse), Tom Wright’s Babes in the Wood was a twenty-first century take on the colonial pantomime tradition, spiralling out of control into a hallucinogenic cornucopia of disreputability. Now, thirteen years later, Don’t Look Away – the company responsible for Inner Voices and The Legend of King O’Malley – have returned to the woods of the Old Fitz, and have brought us something approximating a sequel but also a more contemporary reinterpretation of the panto tradition and an interrogation of the milieu from which the Australian pantomime tradition sprang in the nineteenth century, as well as our own 2016 context. And even though it might look like it’s raided a Christmas warehouse for its set in the best possible way imaginable, it still packs a satirical punch and leaves you doubled over in laughter, appropriately heckling the performers and throwing cabbage. What’s not to love?


Dreamer: Windmill's Girl Asleep

At the Adelaide Festival in 2014, a new play by Matthew Whittet was premiered. Forming the third part in a trilogy for Windmill Theatre Co. (what is now known as the The Windmill Trilogy), the play was the story of fourteen year old Greta Driscoll, her dreaded fifteenth birthday party, and everything that happened on that night. The play was Girl Asleep, and it went on to become an internationally successful film. When it premiered in Adelaide, playing in rep with the rest of the trilogy, I missed it due to Hilary Bell’s gorgeous version of The Seagull, and the first instalment of the trilogy, Fugitive. But two-and-a-half years and numerous successful film festival campaigns later, Girl Asleep rocks onto Belvoir’s corner stage in all its 1970s glory, but I can’t help but wonder if it suffers from Whittet’s tendency to wallow in a conceit without properly exploring and/or developing its structure and the full extent of the world.