24 December 2018

What I loved in 2018: The Best of Melbourne Theatre

The most loved shows of 2018 from "What Melbourne Loved" are Morgan Rose's  The Bachelor S17 E5 at La Mama and Blackie Blackie Brown at Malthouse.

Others with a few mentions are Calamity Jane at Arts Centre Melbourne, Lorelei by Victorian Opera and Stephanie Lake's Colossus at Arts Centre Melbourne for Melbourne Fringe.

I only saw two of these – both of which have repeat seasons in 2019. I was out of the country for the The Bachelor, I was seeing another section of the Fringe program and didn't have a spare night for Colossus, and I tried to see Lorelei but it just wasn't going to happen that week. So, can we have return seasons of all three, please.

I've had a quiet year and only saw about 140 shows this year (that I remember – don't ask).

It's been another challenging year for independent media and for arts criticism. Arts journalists have less avenues for work than even last year. Most reviews are still written by volunteers, and I'm astounded at how many people assume that indie sites and publications earn anything.

At times, the quest for star ratings and poster quotes seems more important than creating conversations or encouraging good writing – your audiences are smarter than that. The personal "banning" of critics is an eye roll; most of us have been banned from at least one show this year. And there are even less opportunities for emerging writers to be trained.

My wish for 2019 is that all companies, especially the funded ones, really start encouraging all critical responses to their shows. I've got lots of ideas if you want to talk.


Outstanding Artists 2017


WRITING

Michele Lee for Going Down at Malthouse

Going Down. Photo by Phoebe Powell

Special mention

Mary Ann Butler for Broken by Lab Kelpie at fortyfivedownstairs

Broken by Lab Kelpie


DESIGN

The design team of Blackie Blackie Brown at Malthouse
Elizabeth Gadsby (design),  Oh Yeah Wow (animation and video),Verity Hampson (lighting and projection)Steve Toulmin (composition and sound) and  Emily Johnson (concept artist)


Blackie Blackie Brown. Photo by Phoebe Powell


Special mentions

Bronwyn Pringle (lighting) for Colder at Red Stitch

Eugyeene Teh (set and costumes) for Suddenly Last Summer at Red Stitch

Suddenly Last Summer. Photo by Jodie Hutchinson


PERFORMANCE

Paula Arundell, Brenna Harding, Sophie Ross in The Bleeding Tree at Arts Centre Melbourne

The Bleeding Tree

Special mentions

Nadine Garner in A Little Night Music by Watch This

Virginia Gay in Calamity Jane presented by One Eyed Man Productions, Neglected Mulsicals, Hates Theatre Co and Arts Centre Melbourne at Arts Centre Melbourne

Keep an eye on

Lou Wall –  Romeo is not the only fruit; It's not me, it's LouLou Wall's Drag Race

DIRECTION

Declan Green for Blackie Blackie Brown at Malthouse

Special mentions

Susie Dee for Broken by Lab Kelpie at fortyfivedownstairs

Richard Carroll for Calamity Jane presented by One Eyed Man Productions, Neglected Mulsicals, Hates Theatre Co and Arts Centre Melbourne at Arts Centre Melbourne. The balance of satire, irony and love was perfect.

Virginia Gay as Calamity Jane

EVERYTHING THEY DO ROCKS

post

post. Ich Nibber Dibber. Photo by Jacquie Manning

post are Natalie Rose, Mish Grigor and Zoë Coombs Marr. They formed in Sydney but continue to spend a lot of time in Melbourne. I first saw them in 2009 and have loved seeing their development collectively and as individual artists, even if a Last Tuesday Society appearance is still the first thing I remember. They've appeared in the end-of-year Loveds a lot – cos they are awesome.

Life meant that their bloody wonderful Ich Nibber Dibber at Malthouse didn't get a review from me, but I laughed myself almost sick during it from the moment we saw them floating like angels.


And

EVERYONE at La Mama because it's been a shit year and everyone has been incredible.


Outstanding Productions 2018

MUSICAL

Romeo is not the only fruit  presented by The Furies, Jean Tong and Stephanie-Bowie Liew at MICF

Romeo is not the only fruit

Special mentions

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Michael Cassell in association with Paul Blake & Sony/ATV Music Publishing & Mike Bosner

The Dressmaker - a musical adaption developed at Monash University by the Jeanne Pratt Musical Theatre Artists in Residence Program.

I didn't review this because it's still in development; I can't wait to see what happens to it. If it doesn't get a professional production, there's something wrong.


The Dressmaker - a musica adaption. Photo by Sarah Walker




COMEDY

Virgin Bloody Mary by Nadia Collins at MICF

Nadia Collins. Virgin Bloody Mary


Special mentions

Anna Piper Scott and Sophie Joske in Almost Lesbians by Catface Productions at MICF

Almost Lesbians

Fafenefenoiby II: Return of the Ghost Boy by Neal Portenza and no one else even


Neal Portenza. Photo by Richard Watts


Eric The Third – The One Man Sketch Comedy Show by Vicious Fish Theatre at Melbourne Fringe

Scott Gooding as Eric


MUSIC

Mojo Juju, Native Tongue at Arts Centre Melbourne




LIVE ART

All the live art experiences at the Mere Mortals program at Arts House.
Including The Infirmary, Bushland and vigil/wake.

FESTIVAL

Melbourne Writers Festival
Finally a writers festival that celebrates all types of writing and story telling.


BEST OF THE BEST

Lagrime di San Pietro by Los Angeles Master Chorale at Melbourne Festival


Lagrime di San Pietro


Prize Fighter by La Boite Theatre with Darebin Arts Speakeasy at Melbourne Festival

Prize Fighter. Photo by Dylan Evans


The Director by Lara Thoms and Scott Turnball at Arts House in the Mere Mortals program

The Director. Lara Thoms and Scott Tuyrnball. Photo by Bryony Jackson


MY FAVOURITE SHOW OF 2018

Dark Emu by Bangarra Dance Theatre

Dark Emu. Bangarra Dance Theatre

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