I simply had to pretend the play festival didn't exist to deal with my disappointment about not being there. It's the same attitude I'm taking to the opening weekend of the Adelaide Fringe.
But not that there wasn't enough on here to keep the most jaded of theatre-goers happy; and I don't just mean Brynne.
Here are some previews.
Summertime in the Garden of Eden
23 February 2012
a shed in Thornbury
to 3 March
So, as we raved about the wonderfulness of The Wild Duck, the Sisters Grimm were busy in a Thornbury shed and now all I can say about the Duck is that it's OK, but it ain't no Summertime in the Garden of Eden.
Sisters Declan Greene and Ash Flanders are the sparkle and poppers for independent theatre. Joyously atrocious, their creations are so far from the good taste of nice middle class theatre that David Williamson would implode if he ever came to Sisters show.
To quote new-Melbourneite Amanda Fucking Palmer, "Stop pretending art is hard". The Sisters created this show in three weeks using what they found in a shed. That ain't hard. But art this good is smart, so smart that it hurts to watch
The sisters are so loved that Summertime was nearly booked out before it opened, but there might be room . If you want to understand why I rant when theatre is dull; see the Sisters.
The Wild Duck
Malthouse presents a Belvoir production
21 February 2012
to 17 March
Melbourne's Hayloft Project gang flew their The Wild Duck back to the Malthouse from Belvoir Street with a swag of 2011 awards and the opening night anticipation was palpable. Riveting in its intimacy, this is the kind of theatre that will ruin lesser productions for you. So book now and read the reviews later, because tickets are disappearing by the minute.
While Ibsen's 19th century naturalism and tragedy is often rejected for its obvious metaphor and an unnatural coincidental melodrama worthy of a daytime soap, re-workings (and re-readings) continue to reveal the genius of his storytelling. In a society where we demand to know the truth, this story asks if it's better to keep truth hidden and leaves its character knowing that if they could make even tiny decisions again, they wouldn't chose the truth.
This is the kind of performance that draws you in so deeply that even a live duck doesn't distract – a very cute live duck swimming in a perspex pond.
This is my benchmark production for 2012. If you're not creating work with this much passion, intelligence and understanding, why even bother.
Melbourne Theatre Company
22 February 2012
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne
to 4 April
As a writer takes the "tell your story" advice literally and writes about being a writer, I wonder how much of the abundant dialogue about stories and half-written stories that are looking for a beginning and have no end is a writer trying to tell people what she does or is it begging for another writer to write about their writing.
Actor and writer Kate Mulvany was most recently seen in Melbourne in Bell Shakspeare's wonderful Julius Caesar, where she was as Cassius and the dramaturg; she knows how to tell a story. The Seed is her semi-auto-biographical work that was developed through the 2004 Phillip Parson's Award and has seen productions at Belvoir and in her home town of Geraldton.
This production is the mainstage direction debut of Hayloft's Anne-Louise Sarks (who was also assistant director for the remarkable The Wild Duck currently at Malthouse) and pops local favourites Tony Martin and Max Gilles on stage for us.
25 February 2012
North Melbourne Town Hall
to 26 February
The Arts House 2012 season begins with Tower Suites, the new work by Ros Warby, Margie Medlin and Helen Mountfort.
It's not open to an easy reading, but its fluidity and delicate humour reflect the trust and subtlety that develops over such long-time creative relationship. And it's a simple joy to watch a work that it beautiful for and in itself, without reason or reading, and to be part of an experience that comes from the hearts and minds of its creators without compromise or any sense of censorship.