29 November 2017

What Melbourne Loved in 2017, part 6

More Taylor Mac tears, more Nanette love and more new writing.

Declan Greene
Playwright, director
Sisters Grimm
Resident Artist, Malthouse Theatre

Declan Green, Taylor Mac, Matthew Lutton. Photo by Sarah Walker

Favourite moments in 2017
It was a pretty bloody amazing year, hey? Like everyone else I couldn't just pick one moment, and Taylor Mac stands on a plinth of judy's own. I'll get that out of the way first.  In 24 Decades of Popular Music, my favourite moment was judy solo with ukelele singing "World Peace, or who in the room to screw?" Written there in black and white, it's a dumb and unwieldy little question, but in performance it encapsulated the human tension between our glorious idealism and the frailty of our flesh – but also the glorious hunger of our flesh and the frailty of our idealism – and it made me bawl my eyes out.

Aaaaand also:

The moment the giant smashed avocado dick appeared in Natesha Somasundaram's Jeremy and Lucas Buy A Fucking House, confirming the promise made by the previous 60 minutes: that Natesha is indeed a dementedly talented and dementedly demented comic prodigy.

The genuine surprise of Matt Lutton's production of Away, which stripped away all the layers of sentiment and nostalgia and showed the raw, uncomfortable human desperation at the heart of that play.

Pretty much everything about Janice Muller's production of Alice Birch's Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again, but especially that hysterical broken-farce of a third act and Ming Zhu Hii's terrifying performance as the Grandmother.

Ash Flanders's quiet and devastating vision of himself as high school drama teacher delivering a retirement speech in Playing To Win.

Betty Grumble's Love & Anger. I'm cheating because I saw it in Edinburgh but it's in Melbourne in a couple of days time and it's start-to-finish PHENOMENAL and doesn't let you take a breath. (SM: It's on NOW at The Butterfly Club.)

Looking forward to in 2018
I'm hopelessly biased, but there's so much in Malthouse's 2018 season I can't wait to see: Tom Wright and Matt Lutton's Bliss, Osamah Sami and Janice Muller's Good Muslim Boy, Jada Alberts directing her Brothers Wreck – one of the most incredible Australian plays of the last few decades, IMHO. And like other people on here I'm also very curious to see how the fuck I adapt Melancholia to the stage... 😂

Outside Malty, I'm very excited for Jean Tong's Hungry Ghosts and Nicola Gunn's Working With Children and The House of Bernarda Alda at MTC (that cast!!!), Embittered Swish's Estrogenesis at Next Wave, and the secret stuff The Rabble are cooking up for next year...

SM: Look at that photo! Audience members Declan and Matt Lutton on stage with Taylor Mac in Chapter III. Dec asked me to use it and there was no other one that I had even considered using this year.  But that wasn't even my favourite Declan–Taylor Mac moment. In my turn on stage in Chapter 1, I spent a lot of time looking at the audience. Declan was one of the first faces I recognised – smiling with no idea that he was being watched. There's something about seeing friends and strangers genuinely happy that is indescribable. 

Otto and Astrid Rot
Best band in the world

Astrid & Otto with Circus Oz team. Photo by Rob Blackburn

Favourite moments in 2017
We were both blown away by Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette. The timing of it is so crucial at the moment with the debate around marriage equality. Come on Australia. Get it together! We also loved Ghost Party and Casting Off (at Sidesault at the Melba) and This is Eden (at fortyfivedownstairs and there's a return season in 2018.)

Looking forward to in 2018
We love the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It’s the best time to be in Melbourne. Can’t wait to see Laura Davis and David Quirk.

SM: I took a friend who had never seen them to their pre-tour performance of Eurosmash and watching her reaction was as wonderful as the show. But my favourite performance, so far, was at Andi's fundraiser. I suspect that I'm also going to totally love their collaboration with Circus Oz in December: The Strange and Spektaculär Lives of Otto & Astrid.

Myf Clark
Reviewer, arts administrator
Co-director, Girls on Film

Myf Clark

Favourite moments in 2017
Three words: Hannah freaking Gadsby. I was lucky enough to see her at MICF this year, thanks to the wonderful Anne-Marie taking me as her plus one, and it didn't take long for the tears to start coming out. I left the show feeling raw, vulnerable, inspired and every other emotion under the sun and I'm so glad more people have had the chance to experience this powerful and poignant show both here and overseas.

Honourable mentions: Seeing Cull by The Very Good Looking Initiative for the third time within a year, witnessing Christos Tsiolkas's words bought to the stage in Little One's Merciless Gods and experiencing The Rabble's one-off performance of Sick Sick at La Mama Theatre.

Honourable overseas mention: Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre in London. While Amber Riley, who was meant to play Effie, was sick, Marisha Wallace (her understudy) blew me away and I was bawling my eyes out while she sang "And I Am Telling You". Thank goodness interval was straight after and I could retreat to the private fancy lounge with free ice cream and a giant glass of gin!

Looking forward to in 2018
I'm hoping to get back into reviewing again this year (co-directing a film festival pretty much became my main focus this year, so I didn't see as much theatre as I would've liked). As always, I love seeing what La Mama has on offer each year and their dedication to supporting youth arts rocks my world.

I'm also really excited to see some bold and exciting women take over the main stage theatre companies, including Patricia Cornelius, Jean Tong and Michele Lee, as well as seeing Angus Cerini's The Bleeding Tree.

SM: I'm also hoping that Myf gets back into reviewing next year. We need more young exciting voices writing about theatre. My favourite moment was a few weeks after getting my Girls on Film crowd-sourcing reward bag. I'd been using the bag for shopping and finally found the pink "Feminist" badge that was in it!

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