28 March 2016

MICF: Bridget Everett

Bridget Everett, Pound it
Presented by MICF
27 March 2016
Max Watt's  (The old Hi FI Bar)
to 3 April

Bridget Everett

"You HAVE to see this show."

I trusted the person who said it to me. And I'll bet that if you don't book to see Bridget Everett now, you will miss your chance.

From the USA, she's only performed four shows so far and MICF 2016 is already "the one when Bridgett Everett came". Pun intended.

I see many shows that claim to be filthy, alternative and outrageous; I often leave describing them as sweet little pumpkins.

Bridgett Everett is the real deal. She's so magnificently obscene and wonderfully outrageous that I may never put on a bra, wear lip gloss, or eat butter without thinking of her.

Damn it, this is reclaiming and demanding new space for women.

I saw genuine fear on some faces in the audience. Face this fear. Do it anyway. Fuck some shit up and come out the other side as a better person.

And no where in her sexually explicit show does she denigrate, humiliate or belittle anyone.

(Except her cunty relatives, but everyone has a cunty relative.)

MICF: Geraldine Quinn

Geraldine Quinn, Could You Repeat That?
26 March 2016
Malthouse Theatre, Bagging Room
to 3 April

Geraldine Quinn
Every time I see Geraldine Quinn, I like her more than the time before. She's wonderful.

My review is on The Age/SMH.

Here she is at the East East Brunswick Club in 2008.

MICF: Zoe Coombs Marr

Zoe Coombs Marr, Trigger Warning
26 March 2016
Victoria Hotel, Acacia Room
to 17 April

Dave and Zoe Coombs Marr

I fell in love with Dave the first time I saw him in 2013.

He's back. She's magnificent.

My review is on The Age/SMH.

MICF: Felicity Ward

Felicity Ward, What if There is No Toilet?
Laughing Stock Productions
26 March 2016
ACMI, The Cube
to 17 April

Felicity Ward
Felicity Ward's back home for the first time since her wonderful The Hedgehog Dilemma. She's staying in London for love, but there's no shortage of audience love for here. It's so lovely to be among a crowd who adore the performer they're seeing.

My review is on The Age/SMH.

26 March 2016

MICF: Penny Arcade

Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer
Theatre Works, London Artists Project, Soho Theatre
24 March 2014
The Famous Spiegeltent at Arts Centre Melbourne
to 3 April

Penny Arcade
Penny said on Twitter that she's convinced I'd have given her five stars if she'd shown me her vagina.

Or three.

My review is at The Age/SMH

17 March 2016


This morning, Fairfax staff (The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review) were met with the news of another 120 jobs being slashed, mostly editorial and newsroom positions, but freelance contributor budgets are also being targeted.

In response, staff are striking until Monday.

I freelance for Fairfax, as do a lot of my friends and colleagues, so in solidarity there won't be any new posts on SM this weekend.

Follow the story at abc.net.au and #FairGoFairfax on Twitter.

16 March 2016

Review: Every Brilliant Thing

Every Brilliant Thing
Paines Plough and Pentabus
11 March 2016
Beckett Theatre
to 20 March

Jonny Donahue. Every Brilliant Thing

Every Brilliant Thing is sold out, so be excited if you have tickets. And make sure you give them to someone else if you can't make it, because empty seats in sold out shows is not brilliant.

My review is at The Age/SMH.

15 March 2016

FOLA: Blind

Festival of Live Art
Duda Paiva Co, Black Hole Theatre, Theatre Works
9 March
Theatre Works
to 19 March

Duda Paiva. Photo by Patrick Argirakis

FOLA is over but this extraordinarily beautiful Blind is still on at Theatre Works until the weekend.

My review is at The Age/SMH.

12 March 2016

GUEST REVIEW: The Secret River

The Secret River
Arts Centre Melbourne presents a Sydney Theatre Company production
10 March 2015
to 19 March

Review by Byron Bache

 The Secret River. Trevor Jameison.

BB: This is the review I was commissioned to write for the Herald Sun. It's not running either in print or online. Neither the paper nor my editor censored me or my views. Once you read it, you'll see it's really not a very Herald Sun approach to reviewing mainstage theatre, so its non-publication is on me. If I'd filed it earlier, there might have been time to refashion it into something more conventional. But there wasn't, so it's here. I'm glad it's here.

For 228 years, we've been killing Indigenous Australians. We've done it with guns, knives, smallpox blankets, even our bare hands. We're still at it, but now our weapons are regulatory, systemic, silent. Institutionalised discrimination doesn't kill quite as fast as a musket, but in the end it's statistically just as efficient.

Kate Grenville's 2005 novel, The Secret River, a brilliant and deliberately myopic tale of emancipated convict William Thornhill, ends with the violent murder of an entire Dharug family group. At the culmination of an impossible land dispute, fuelled by fear and an insurmountable language barrier, these men, women and children, who Grenville never even gives names, are left dead, as the white man contemplates his own crippling ennui. It's the kind of mirror that should be held up more often; a gut-twisting reminder of the colonists' disregard for human life.

After staking his claim on a seemingly unoccupied stretch of the Hawkesbury River, Thornhill (Nathaniel Dean) sets about building a life for his young family. But the land is far from unoccupied, and soon enough he's face to face with Ngalamalum (Trevor Jamieson) and the Dharug people, neither man able to communicate with the other.

In his adaptation, playwright Andrew Bovell gives the Dharug names, routines, relationships. They're people, instead of just "the other". But in striving for a certain brand of authenticity, Bovell and director Neil Armfield make the same mistake as the fictional Thornhill. What's intended as tolerance, compassion and understanding is literally lost in translation. Speaking only in un-surtitled Dharug, it's tough to shake the feeling that we're being presented with that icky narrative trope: the magical other. Armfield's production is slick, moving and beautiful, and the cast manage to telegraph plenty of what's going on, but something's off-kilter the whole way through.

When the historical note in your program does a better job of telling the story of the Dharug than your show does, you might be doing something wrong.

As the story of a white man and his family, The Secret River works. As a morality tale, a warning, a sober reflection, it works too. But inescapable in its engineering and execution is the fact that this is a white man's adaptation of a novel by a white woman, directed by a white man. The Indigenous voices ring loud and clear, but they're denied the agency, the immediacy and the basic humanity of being understood.

Bovell and Armfield's vision isn't insensitive. It's not racist. It doesn't apologise for unforgivable atrocities. It's a lesson – one we should all hear. But it's not the subversive, illuminating thing that it could be.

The ending will make you weep. The aftermath will leave you speechless. But being forced to observe the Dharug like the subjects of a nature documentary carries far less power than it might if they were given language the audience could understand. A version of this play in which the Dharug speak English, and the Thornhills speak an unintelligible dialect is one that illuminates. One that doesn't just prod at hearts and minds, but alters them. Imagine if The Secret River didn't fetishise otherness as a storytelling device. If instead of detailing how things were lost, it showed us what was lost.

As an unexamined piece of entertainment, it's a triumph. As a political act, it's a mess. And as a lesson in the inescapable common ground of humanity, it's token at best.

This is black theatre made by white people. Are we okay with that?

The Secret River

And a bit from me

SM: The Secret River is a wonderful piece of theatre. I loved it from the smell of burning gum in the theatre to hearing an audience member cry.

Every review and rave about the performances are spot on. As are the raves about Stephen Curtis's endless gum backdrop that makes us feel insignificant, Iain Grandage's live score and his interaction with the story, and Tess Schofield's not-now-not-then costumes with everyone in some form of white make up

This is theatre that lets Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists tell OUR story with empathy and understanding and the hope, and belief, that our current and  future selves really will learn from our past.

But I wasn't completely in that world; I always felt like I was watching.

At first I thought it was because I knew the story, but I cry every time I watch the last minutes of Six Feet Under or Terms of Endearment.

And it's not like the moments of gut-dropping horror, with no humanity on the stage, aren't there.

I wanted the moment of being so in another person's skin that you understand their world as they see it. The moment that makes you realise that you could be that person – or are that person. That confronting moment when a quiet part of your brain says, "Yep, I think I'd have done the same if that were my world."

Because even with all our hope and understanding, there's still far too much that hasn't changed.

10 March 2016

08 March 2016

FOLA: Hotel Obscura

Hotel Obscura
3 March 2016
Secret hotel
to 5 March

Love Bank at Hotel Obscura
Hotel Obscura was two hours and six Live Art experiences, three as a group of 12 strangers-cum-friends, three as one-on-one experiences with artists. There were 12 individual experiences, so the other 9 could only be experienced by talking to the people who did them in the final group get together. The utter joy of this last experience was realising that it wasn't disappointing to miss some because it was possibly more fascinating to hear how people described them.

My review is at The Age/SMH.

PS. My favourite experience was Love Bank, where Caroyln Hanna leads you through a room (with an amazing view) to find your memories of love. From despair to desire, it was a remarkably exposing experience that's done without ever being made to feel exposed.

04 March 2016

FOLA: Arts House Ticket

Opening night at Arts House
2 March 2016
Arts House
to 13 March

FOLA. Casey Jenkins. Photo by Justin McManus

The North Melbourne Town Hall is full of Live Art experiences. Buy a ticket to get in and you can curate your own experience. I recommend using the full six hours because I missed too much in my 4-ish hours.

And I'd love to go back every day to see Bron Batten go on another date. I so want a wonderful stranger to fall in love with her on stage, and for her to fall in love back, but then maybe she couldn't make her amazing, existential-dilemma-driven theatre.

My review at the The Age/SMH.

02 March 2016

Review: Encounter

Woodcourt Art Theatre and La Mama
26 February 2016
La Mama
to 6 March

Encounter. Photo by Carly Young
Encounter is on as a double with Carly & Troy do "A Doll's House" (which I'm trying to find time to see).

My review of Encounter is at The Age/SMH.