28 May 2012

May review previews

On the production of monsters
Melbourne Theatre Company
25 May 2012
Lawler Studio
to 9 June

Local writer Robert Reid wrote On the production of monsters for us. While the main stage MTC shows try to reach those who are happy to subscribe to capital-T-theatre for a night of capital-C-culture, the smaller Lawler Studio program starts with great scripts, employs some of Melbourne's best creators and creates theatre for those of us who want more than just an easy night away from Masterchef.

Reid has been writing plays in Melbourne since the late 90s. Like The Joy of Text, his 2011 MTC main-stage debut, Monsters is about unequal power and shocks with a humour that's as black as a Fitzroy fashion boutique.


Reid tickles zeitgeists from the viral internet sneezing baby panda (that he references almost as much as I do) to the decency arguments around the taking of naked photos, but its genuinely hip charm comes from its reflection of oh-so-cool, coffee-obsessed, word-using, inner-city urbanites who have a point scoring system for hipster-spotting and are so aware of their own irony that they probably secretly award points about themselves.

With references that left most of the audience grinning with he's-writing-about-me recognition, Reid's grasp of Melbourne's sub-culture is possibly as fine as Edna's early reflections on Moonee Ponds. Especially as it's supported by Andrew Bailey's gorgeously nostalgic pop-up design with treats like a hidden train, metcards, movie posters, cool-again bean bags and the best toaster ever.

On the production of monsters isn't the happiest view of the world, but is very funny and Robert Reid is a Melbourne writing voice that needs to be shared and loved.


The Laramie Project – 10 Years Later
Arts Centre Melbourne presents a Red Stitch Theatre production
16 May 2012
Fairfax studio, Arts Centre Melbourne

I have family who used to live in Snowtown; they don't tell people that anymore. Truro, Port Arthur, Colombine; it only takes one word to recall the horrific violence associated with these places.

In 1998, Laramie in Wyoming, USA, made headlines when Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence, repeatedly beaten and left to die on the outskirts of the town. He died six days later and the media descended on this small town, once best-known for its university, but remembered for being nothing exciting.

People are killed daily in the US from robberies gone wrong and domestic violence; however, Laramie struck a chord because Matthew's was targeted and tortured because he was gay. Matthew's family are still lobbying to have the Hate Crimes Prevention Act accepted by the US government.

In November 1998, Tectonic Theater Project from New York travelled to Laramie and conducted interviews that were used to create The Laramie Project, a play and later an HBO film. It's become one of the most performed plays in America and continues as an active online community. In 2009, the company returned to Laramie to see what had happened over the last 10 years and the epilogue work premiered simultaneously in 100 US venues.

Red Stitch presented The Laramie Project – 10 Years Later in 2011 and were invited by The Arts Centre to re-stage this fascinating and important work.



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