22 December 2016

What I loved in 2016, The best of Melbourne theatre

Tenth list and still no trophy, cheque or print-at-home certificate for the winners.

I sit on judging panels that have very specific criteria, but the criteria for this list remains simple: What did I love the most? And I've now added: Would I (did I) see it again?

The most popular show on from the What Melbourne Loved series was Backstage in Biscuitland. Tourettes Hero, we'd love you to visit us again.

Outstanding Artists 2016


The Listies: Prince of Skidmark. Photo by Prudence Upton

Declan Greene and The Listies for Hamlet: Prince of Skidmark, Sydney Theatre Company
(Melbourne season please.)

Special mentions

David Finnigan for Kill Climate Deniers at Melbourne Fringe and the script

Sammy J for Hero Complex at Melbourne International Comedy Festival


Blaque Showgirls. Photo by Pia Johnson

Andrew Bailey (set) for Lungs at MTC

Paul Jackson (lighting) for Picnic at Hanging Rock at Malthouse

Eugyeene Teh (set and costume) for Blaque Showgirls at Malthouse

Special mentions

The Making Space team (Bronwyn Pringle, Melanie Liertz, Pippa Bainbridge,
Jack Beeby, Chris Molyneux and Rachel Edward )(whole space) for Beneath and Beyond at La Mama

Kate Davis (design) and Emma Valente (lighting) for Cain and Abel by The Rabble at The Substation


Wit. Photo by Pia Johnson

Jane Montomery Griffiths in Wit by The Artisan Collective in conjunction with fortyfivedownstairs

Special mentions

Awakening. Photo by Nura Sheidaee

The cast of Awakening by MUST: Nicola Dupree, Samantha Hafey-Bagg, Eamonn Johnson, James Malcher, Sam Porter and Imogen Walsh.

The cast of Lilith, the Jungle Girl by Sisters Grimm at MTC: Ash Flanders, Candy Bowers, Genevieve Giuffre.


Straight White Men.  Photo by Jeff Busby

Sarah Giles for Straight White Men at MTC and Blaque Showgirls at Malthouse

Special mentions

Daniel Lammin for Awakening by MUST

Daniel Clarke for Rust and Bone at La Mama


FOLA: the Festival of Live Art

including Arts House ticketHotel Obsucuraand Portraits in Motion at Theatre Works.


Jason Lehane and Yvonne Virsik

MUST: Monash University Student Theatre

Every time I see a MUST production, I'm thrilled that I went. Yvonne Virsik (Artistic Director) and Jason Lehane (Technical Manager) help students to create the kind of theatre that blows me away every time. It's work made with an intelligence and a freedom that doesn't restrict ideas and regularly creates work so original and unique that I wonder why it hasn't been done before.

I only saw three shows this year – Noises Off, Slaughterhouse Five and Awakening. Each explored form and told story in ways that made the exploration of form invisible.

If you're one of those people who I tell to see shows, you know that MUST comes up a lot. So, what about making 2017 the year that you get out to Clayton? (It's really not that far.)

And so many artists and creators who are making their mark on Melbourne (a few have contributed moments) are from Monash and got their start at MUST.  Fleur Kilpatrick, Sarah Walker, Daniel Lammin, Mark Wilson, Mama Alto, Jack Beeby, Sarah Collins, Danny Delahunty, James Jackson, Kevin Turner, Anna Nalpantidis, Elizabeth Brennan, Tom Halls, Trelawney Edgar, Jake Stewart, Mark Crees, Bek Berger, Piper Huynh, Hayley Toth, Andrew Westle, Tom Middleditch. (I'm going to add to this list as more names are given to me.)

Slaughterhouse Five

Outstanding Productions 2016


Leah Shelton in Terror Australis

Terror Australis by Leah Shelton (Polytoxic) at Melbourne Fringe

Special mentions

Mother's Ruin. Maeve Marsden & Libby Wood

Mothers Ruin: A Cabaret about Gin by Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood at the Butterfly Club

Briefs by The Briefs Factory at Arts Centre Melbourne

Princesstuous by Isabella Valette at the Butterfly Club, Melbourne International Comedy Festival


Matilda, Royal Shakespeare Company and all the producers listed here


Matilda, Royal Shakespeare Company and all the producers listed here

Dave and Zoe Coombs Marr. Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning by Zoe Coombs Marr at Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Special mentions

Rama Nichols. Mary Weather's Monsters

Mary Weather's Monsters by Rama Nichols at Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Marco. Polo. by Laura Davis at Melbourne International Comedy Festival (and Melbourne Fringe)


Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl by Jess Love at Melbourne Fringe

Il Signor Bruschino. Lyric Opera

Il Signor Bruschino by Lyric Opera


Small Time Criminals players

Small Time Criminals by Pop up Playground

There's still time to play this live action game that closes (after a year) in February. It was so much fun. But it's not easy.

Listen to my co-robbers Richard and Fleur on RRR discussing our perfectly brilliant night. It starts at 2.34. (Fleur, I was giggling cos I was having so much fun! And because I was really shit at turning off my torch and had to hide my light from the terrifying guard, who never found me hiding under the table.)

Between Two Lines by Anna Nalpantidis with Elizabeth Brennan at Melbourne Fringe 


Awakening by MUST

Every Brilliant Thing

Every Brilliant Thing by Paines Plough and Pentabus at Malthouse

Matilda, Royal Shakespeare Company and all the producers listed here

Trigger Warning by Zoe Coombs Marr at MICF


Backstage in Biscuit Land. Jess Mabel Jones and Jessica Thom. . Photo by Jonathan Birch

Backstage in Biscuitland by Tourettes Hero at Melbourne Festival