First produced in 2012, Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced has the distinction of being the most produced play in the United States in the 2015-2016 theatre year. Set on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Akhtar’s play is the story of Amir, a high-flying lawyer at the top of his game who wants to be a partner in his prestigious firm. When he agrees to support an Imam accused on charges of funding terrorism, he finds his world and assumptions challenged, and rapidly slipping away from him. Following a long line of dinner-party plays where arguments and battle-lines are drawn, territories staked, and relationships forged, broken, destroyed, Akhtar is clear to demarcate his characters’ points of view, but it lacks the spark which would make this play a fierce critique of our current socio-political attitudes.
Hailed as a “modern masterpiece,” and “one of the great (political) plays of our time,” Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III arrives in Sydney following a UK tour, and acclaimed sell-out seasons in London, the West End, and Broadway. Produced by Almeida Theatre, the play is a “future history play” written in blank verse in the style and structure of one of Shakespeare’s history plays, and charts potential events following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. And while Bartlett’s play is full of interesting ideas and situations, and is elegantly realised, it ultimately fails to live up to the very high bar raised by its incessant word-of-mouth machine currently running in overdrive on the back of buses, taxis, bus shelters, and magazines across the city.
Appropriating Chekhov’s own description of his play The Seagull, Belvoir’s latest offering – Kit Brookman’s The Great Fire – is billed as “a comedy; a family, ten actors, a landscape (view of the Adelaide Hills), a great deal of conversation about politics and life, Christmas, large hopes, five tons of love.” A self-professed “big new play about us – middle
in 2016,” Brookman’s play has much to commend in it (big cast, sprawl, decent
running time), but although the Chekhovian associations seem apt in many cases,
it ultimately proves to be self-defeating. Australia
Set in a house in the Adelaide Hills, The Great Fire is the story of three generations of a family and the dream they tried to build for themselves, only to watch it change and drift away from them as their children grew up, moved away, while the world moved on. Now, this Christmas, the whole family returns (with a new generation on the way), but they’re at a crossroads – can the dream still be achieved?
This review was originally written for artsHub.
To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (as well as his 452nd birthday), Post-Haste Players are doing something a little bit different. While others are falling over backwards trying to enunciate why Shakespeare is Shakespeare, why his plays still matter, what he might be doing if he was alive today, Post-Haste Players are celebrating his skill for creating new words and new stories with a show that would probably make the man himself laugh and roll in his grave (quite possibly with laughter), at the same time. Using their skills as improvisers and actors well-versed in the themes and patterns in Shakespeare’s plays, the Players are creating entirely new and improvised plays which may be Shakespearean, with the help of the audience. What ensues is, well, nothing short of madness.