27 June 2013
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner
to 3 August
Arthur Miller's The Crucible was my favourite play when I was 17 and, along with Lillian Hellman, Miller was my favourite playwright. This play made me read the rest of his work and so many more by mid-twentieth-century American writers. It opened the door to an astonishing and powerful library. But it's been over a quarter of a century since I read it, so, yesterday, I grabbed my high school copy (which tells me I wrote an essay about its fire symbolism) and read it again.
It's definitely a product of his time. First performed in 1954, Miller wrote a play about the seventeenth century witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, as a response to US Senator Mcarthy's communist trials in the 1950s, which were especially devastating to writers, performers and anyone connected to the evil liberal arts. In high school, we learnt that this was an allegory, a damn fine one.
Still, as I read it, I was struck by just how relevant and powerful a production could be today in Australia. It's a world where women (and their supporters) are attacked, trialled and killed for no reason other than their gender. They are trialled by middle-aged men who base their findings on a belief in a big male god and on their certain belief that young women must be possessed by the big male devil because they surely couldn't be behaving like scared children. The Crucible or Ditch the Witch or Grow up Lindsay. Or, it's a world where women – especially young women – are harlots or angels; a world where a middle-aged man possibly rapes his teenage servant (subtextually, it can go rape or consent) in a barn, who is then fired by the man's wife (ensuring she can't get work) and later declared a whore by the man who certainly took her virginity and treated her like crap. Maybe the MTC's production isn't just a star vehicle for Diver Dan from Seachange?
With the text still very fresh in my mind, I was excited about this production.
My excitement lasted seconds.
The full review is on HERE on AussieTheatre.com and will be here in a few days.
NEON Festival of Independent Theatre
By Their Own Hands
The Hayloft Project
14 June 2013
to 23 June
I can't say enough wonderful about the MTC's Neon Festival of Independent Theatre. Five of Melbourne's most-loved, most successful and most challenging independent companies were asked to create something new – no restraints.
We're still talking about Daniel Schlusser Ensemble's Menagerie (based on the works of Tennessee Williams) and Fraught Outfit's On the bodily education of young girls (based on a 1903 novella and developed with a cast of teenagers from St Martins Youth Theatre). I wrote about them here.
The Hayloft Project's Benedict Hardie and Anne-Louise Sarks also adapted. By Their Own Hands is the story of Oedipus and Jocasta; loved by the ancient Greeks and so popular that Freud based his own legacy on it. But do we really know the story and the people in it?
15 June 2013
Oh King Kong! You gorgeous, sexy, magnificent beast. Your entrance may be the most spectacular thing ever seen on a live stage. Every time you’re on, the audience is yours for the taking, as all around you pale to dull, despite all manner of shiny costume. You are glorious and unforgettable. If only a fraction of the care, love, money and time that went into your creation was put into creating the story you are doomed to play in.
Solomon and Marion
Melbourne Theatre Company
12 June 2013
Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio
to 20 July
In Cape Town in 2006, actor Brett Goldin and designer Richard Bloom left a party and never got home. They were found naked, except for their socks, near a freeway; they had been robbed and shot through the head. Goldin was playing Guildenstern in a production of Hamlet that was about to fly to Stratford to open the Complete Works Festival. Writer Lara Foot worked with the same theatre company and Solomon and Marion is the result of her trying to understand the incomprehensible – and incomprehensibly accepted – violence in her country.
It's a beautiful play. Its uneasy undertone of violence and mistrust creates tension, but it's gentle and loving and finds hope in the endless grief.
Palace of the End
Daniel Clarke in association with Theatre Works
6 June 2013
Tell your story, tell our story or tell a story that means so much to you that it doesn't matter whose it is. In Palace of the End, nice middle class, successful Canadian writer Judith Thompson tells stories about the wars in Iraq.
She wasn't there and her personal connection is living next door to an Iraqi family, so are they her stories to tell? She said in an interview with Canada's CBC, "Who would I be to write about it? How do I dare? But finally I trusted myself as a writer and made a leap.".
Palace of the End at Theatre Works is a harrowing night of theatre with images and emotion that are difficult to forget, but its story about these horrors is beautiful and honest and ultimately hopeful.