29 July 2012

July review previews

Eat Pray Love
Barry Humphries Farewell tour
Dainty Group
19 July
Her  Majesty's Theatre
to 4 August

I have to let go one of my ongoing theatre dreams.

For years, I've fantasised about being picked on by Dame Edna. I've got purple hair, I'm from Adelaide, I lean towards mutton-dressed-as-lamb, go to the theatre and read  Eat Pray Love* before a trip to Ubud in Bali: I'm perfect Edna fodder.

But I wasn't what she was after (and I wasn't up the front).  And she's on her last tour. Unless Barry forces her back.

Barry Humphries is a unique mind who thankfully decided to use his genius for satire.

Since a meek and patriotic housewife called Edna appeared in 1955, his characters have left has cringing with embarrassed joy as we've recognised our relatives and friends and maybe refused to see ourselves in his astute grasp of Australia's culturally vapid middle class.


Blood Wedding
Malthouse Theatre
26 July 2012
Merlyn Theatre, The Malthouse
to 19 August

I wonder what Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca would think about Blood Wedding being performed in Australia 80 years after he wrote it.

His work is so connected to Spain before the 1936–39 Civil War (it is believed he was assassinated by right wing forces days before the war broke out), but great writing comes from truth, and truth is what makes the personal universal. His writing doesn't need an understanding of the politics or the society it came from to tell its story.

Blood Wedding is summarised in its title. Young lovers want to marry, but there are old family issues and unresolved loves; it never offers hope that it's going to end well. For all its politics and anger, Lorca writes about suffering and grief and the utter absurdity of fighting over things that ultimately mean nothing when a love (partner/child/sibling/parent/friend) is destroyed. No wonder Lorca still reaches us.


25 July
MKA Pop Up Theatre, North Melbourne
to 4 August

Lesbian vampires. Do I need to say more?

Lesbian vampires in North Fitzroy.

A play with lesbian vampires, set in North Fitzroy, performed in an empty North Melbourne (really Kensington) warehouse by MKA. What more could you want?

And there is more. There's Piedimontes (the greatest worst supermarket), Chopper, Vince Colosimo, 4WDs that have never been as far as St Kilda, the guy who sells The Big Issue, the gardens where many a virginity has been lost and a soy-latte-addicted baby called Finnigan. 

I love that theatre like this exists. 


Queen Lear
12 July 2012
Sumner Theatre
to 18 August

Queen Lear was always going to be a bitch to review.

Men and women are different beasts who adore and loathe each other because we see the world in slightly different ways. Shakespeare's women aren't as richly fascinating as his men, so the gender swap isn't that unusual (Kate Mulvany's recent Cassius comes to mind), but to do so successfully means that every relationship to Lear has to change in subtle ways that together change the story.

It's here that Rachel McDonald, as dramaturg and director, is most successful. Too often the on-stage relationships in Shakespeare are ignored for the sake of original character, but McDonald's Lear is led by the changing status and relationships that are often much clearer that her story. 



And head to Theatre Notes for some passionate discussion.
Don't miss Cameron's review in The Rage.
And we have Chris's full review to look forward to on Monday, but here's what he wrote that night.  Here 'tis.

Almost With You
La Mama and Little Theatre Company
9 July 2012
La Mama Theatre
to 22 July

Fiona Macleod had a chat about the show.

Almost With You opens with music from The Clash and a 40-something-chick having to change her sex position because her knees hurt and the two of them end up talking about tax, back pain and pilates instead of doing it. I was so there.

Lisa (Fiona Macleod) is 45. She's a successful journalist writing a feature about older first-time parents, including her best friend (Helen Hopkins) who became a mum at 46 and her accountant (Raj Sidhu) who became a dad at 48. Lisa hasn't joined the baby or marriage club and knows she has to face what she lost when she was 20 if she's ever going to stop feeling empty and broken.


And then there's the nostalgic music from the 80s and I automatically love anything that references The Go-Betweens. There's a terrific scene with 80s punk dancing that works so much to show character and attitude, but the nostalgia mostly serves to mark the time and too many of the jokes and reference are meaningless to anyone who didn't have great taste in music in the 80s. If you don't know that Steve Kilby wrote "Almost With You" in 1982 and the video was set at a seance,  how can the connections be made?

Almost With You is created from the kind of grief that reaches our hearts and the sort of healing that creates hope, but these emotions are having trouble resonating because the work is so close to the writer that there's no room for anyone else.


2 July

The new financial year started with a wonderful weekend of glorious sexually subversive theatre that left me feeling all vanillary straight for starting each day with a layer of thermal underwear.

I FINALLY made it to the last night of Finucane and Smith's Glory Box: The Burlesque Hour and it was as wonderful as it's always been.

And there was MKA's erection-inducing sex.violence.blood.gore.

While you're booking for MKA, there's also one more chance to see The Economist with two more performances on 20 and 21 July before they go to Edinburgh.

And for more Finucane & Smith wonderfulness,  Jackie Smith's stunning Australian gothic play The Flood begins a tour to 25 venues across regional Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT.

The closest us city slickers can get to is in South Morang this weekend or Geelong on 10–14 July. Details here.

Malthouse Theatre, Performance Space
5 July 2012
Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse
to 14 July

Briwyant begins with the sound of a story wanting to be told.  As it searches for the Dreaming in an urban world and looks for the songlines that still connect us all to country, this is contemporary Australian dance at its most compelling.

Director, choreographer and Wirradjerri woman Vicki Van Hout was brought up in Dapto in NSW, spent time in an infamous Woolloomooloo artist squat, studied dance at the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) College, trained in New York and moved back to Australia to perform with Bangarra in the mid 90s.

Working collaboratively with her dancers and creative team, Briwyant's stories start with the images that perpetuate Indigenous culture.  Inspired by the Yolngu word bir’yun, which describes the crosshatch shimmering on a painting's surface, like a dot painting, some of Van Hout's meanings are obvious, while others are hidden or only clear with a learnt understanding. None of which makes her choreography and images any less beautiful or intriguing.


And here's Chris's review that I really enjoyed reading.

30 June 2012
MKA Pop Up Theatre, North Melbourne
to 14 July

sex.violence.blood.gore is all flushed-flesh pink and delicate ivory lace, which makes it even sexier and gorier and gorgeous. First performed in Singapore in 1999 in a basement in secret, Melbourne's first production is in a secret warehouse in North Melbourne and, like all wonderful Melbourne secrets, you need a map to find it and may miss out because the word has already got around.  


By taking it so out of its context, Nicolazzo lets the heart of this work speak and ensures that it's for and about everyone who sees it. This is what theatre is about. I see so many wonderfully written, beautifully performed works that are so terribly dull because they don't make this kind of connection with their audience.


Meanwhile, please read Cameron's wordgasm review that left me impotent.

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