05 December 2014

What Melbourne loved in 2014, part 1

It's December, which means one thing: It's time to find out what Melbourne's theatre community really loved this year.

It's time to ignore the awards and the critics and remember those shows, people and moments that made theatre in Melbourne so bloody wonderful in 2014.

To kick us off, it's Ash Flanders, Paul Capsis and Peter Paltos, who have just finished in Calpurnia Descending at Malthouse. I think Paul's “I wasn’t bored for a second” should be a goal for all shows in 2015. And I wasn't bored for a second in Calpurnia.

Ash Flanders

Ash Flanders, the younger.  Photo by Ben Dyer

Ash: My list should start with shows I'm really bummed I couldn't see this year. These include (but are not limited to) the MTC NEON season, Madonna Arms (Next Wave at Arts House) and, of course, The Good Person of Szechwan (at Malthouse).

A highlight for me was Applespiel make a band and take on the recording industry (Malthouse, Helium series), which blew my mind largely because of the audacity of the concept – a rock-u-mentary made live in front of an audience by a clean-haired cult of young theatre makers, all who probably have $2 to their names. This show made me feel old and jaded – and reminded me to keep pushing ideas further... and to stop being such a whinger!

I will also never forget Jane Montgomery Griffiths’s naked (in every sense of the word) screams for her mother in The Rabble’s Frankenstein. I shall remain happily haunted forever.

This was also the year I discovered my Adena Jacobs impersonation, which has seen the total erasure of my natural voice. Good news everyone!

SM: I missed Ash in Hedda Gabler because Belvoir is in Sydney and I wasn’t. For that I too am bummed. But he posted plenty of pics of him in a one-piece bathing suit to keep me happy.

There was his performance in Calpurnia Descending (his Violet was fucking wonderful  – and Violet was my grandmother’s name, so I approved), but my moment has to be him telling me about meeting Katie Perry backstage. It’s not as sexy a story as it could be and I suggest asking him because it won’t be as good coming from me,

Paul Capsis

Paul Capsis. Photo by Shane Reid

Pau: Hmmm, my favourite theatre moment in 2014  would be a little show I saw in the Tower at Malthouse. Applespiel I think was the title. A great young vibrant and highly energised cast with lots of funny takes on a rock documentary, using film, video, effects made and performed in front of the audience. I liked the energy, rawness, chaos and roughness of the performances and that’s something that’s lacking in a lot of Australian theatre right now. I find so much to yawn at these days. I wasn't bored for a second in this show.

SM: How about making “I wasn’t bored for a second” the goal for new shows?

There was only thing more amazing that Mz Flanders in Calpurnia Descending and that was Paul Capsis as Beverly. When I think of this show, the first image that comes to mind is Paul in his underwear at the top of a ladder; nothing left to hide, everything exposed. This show was endless laughter, but it ended with a moment that made every laugh hurt because we know they came from pain. In different hands, it could have been another laugh, but it was Paul and he was magnificent.

Peter Paltos

Peter Paltos

Peter: My favourites are:

Greenscreen by Nicola Gunn/Sans Hotel at MTC Neon. For me, Greenscreen was an existential theatrical poem that articulated both my loneliness and sense of belonging. I was really touched by this piece. Gunn is a goddess.

Madonna Arms by I'm Trying To Kiss You. Three feminists speaking in verse and smashing the science fiction genre a new asshole. So earthy and absurd.

Hedda Gabler at Belvior directed by Adena Jacobs. I have not stopped thinking about the first fifteen minutes of this production since I saw it. It was like a painting quietly coming to life.

Grounded by Red Stitch, directed by Kirsten von Bibra. This was a really well executed, solo show with an impressive performance by Kate Cole. I dug the minimalism of this piece: old school, clean storytelling with no tricks.

SM: If you were in Calpurnia Descending, there isn’t much hope that your performance in Calpurnia Descending isn’t going to be my favourite moment of yours.

Peter was as amazing as Ash, Paul (and Sandy Gore). He was pure matinee idol with all the guts it takes to be a real matinee idol and maintain the bullshit image.