04 June 2021

27 April 2021

Review: That One Time I Joined The Illuminati

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
That One Time I Joined The Illuminati 
Lou Wall
Storyville Melbourne
8 and 18 April 2021

Lou Wall

21 April 2021

Review: Dig Their Own Graves

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Dig Their Own Graves
Blake Everett & Oliver Coleman
7 April 2021
to 18 April 

Oliver Coleman and Blake Everett

My review is in Time Out.

Review: I'm Not a Mime

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
I'm Not a Mime
Patrick Collins

12 April 2021
The Butterfly Club
to 18 April 

Patrick Collins

My review is in Time Out.

11 April 2021

Review: Because The Night

Because the Night

9 April 2021
All of Malthouse
The season is sold out, but keep an eye on the website

"Because the Night" Malthouse . Photo by Pia Johnson

Hamlet as a choose-your-own-adventure, escape-room, gallery, anonymous-dress-up, wear-comfy-shoes, live-mystery, 1980’s-trip-to-Tassie, deconstructed-text, maze, open-stranger’s-drawers, op-shop-rummage, carnival-spook-house, re-imaging response to the natural world fighting back as humans kill each other for power? Hells, yes! 

Welcome to Malthouse’s Because the Night

The inherent nature of art is a unique experience. Any experience of this immersive experience is impossible to recreate as everyone is encouraged to explore the 30-plus rooms, follow any of the six actors and make their own story. 

"Because the Night" Malthouse . Photo by Pia Johnson

Conceived in lockdown, Because the Night is as much director Matthew Lutton’s response to Covid as a response to Hamlet. With a text by Kamarra Bell-Wykes, Ra Chapman and Lutton, this Elsinore is a 1980’s Tasmanian Kingdom forestry town where ancient giant trees are the impending threat. A basic knowledge of Hamlet is assumed*, but it can be enjoyed without engaging with more than the overarching story. 

Once bags are put in lockers, everyone in the 60-person audience is given a black cloak and papier-mâché mask to become a ghost – non-distracting identical ghosts haunting the space is a brilliant move – and begin in three different rooms. I saw Hamlet (Khisraw Jones-Shukoor; Keegan Joyce is in the other cast) and kick-arse Ophelia (Tahlee Fereday or Artemis Ioannides) in the gym, and so want to see how it begins for Gertrude (Belinda McClory or Jennifer Vuletic), Claudia (Maria Theodorakis or Nicole Nabout), Laertes (Harvey Zielinski or Ras-Samuel Welda’abzgi) and Polonius (Rodney Afif or Syd Brisbane). 

"Because the Night" Malthouse . Photo by Pia Johnson

These six are the only characters and while it’s cool to not be bothered by the outside commentary from the rest of the castle, another way to dive into this story is to be Rosencranz, Horatio or dead King Hamlet and find your scenes. If you miss THE soliloquy, I can’t imagine anyone stopping you from having a go yourself (quietly) when you find Yorick’s skull. 

If you really miss the text, it’s all in the design. Dale Ferguson (architecture), Marg Horwell and Matilda Woodroofe (interiors), Kat Chan (costumes), J Davide Franzke (sound) and Amelia Lever-Davidson (lighting) tell Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Because the Night. Explore! Push the “don’t push” buttons feel, watch, touch, open, get lost and listen. The detail is exquisite. From being able to see Claudia on the royal-office phone while hanging out with Gertrude in her flower-clad bedroom to feeling the empty air in front of you as you inch into a pitch-black room, the spoilers aren’t in the story but in the secrets of the design.

"Because the Night" Malthouse . Photo by Pia Johnson

There are clues everywhere. Some are obvious and others would take multiple visits to begin to figure out. But open draws, look in folders, go down anything that looks like it might be a room – I thought I’d found them all; I didn’t. But I found Hamlet’s childhood diary, King Hamlet’s autopsy report and Polonius’s secret bunker. I watched Laertes leave notes, Ophelia hide a weapon and Gertrude run her hands through the dirt of her husband’s grave. I followed actors and was distracted by rooms and lights and sounds. The story is clear no matter what you see or miss, but I knew we were more than half-way though when distraught Hamlet ran past me in a corridor convincing himself that “it was an accident”.

"Because the Night" Malthouse . Photo by Pia Johnson

The breathtaking complexity of Because the Night overcomes any fear of gimmick or even comparison to other immersive works based on Shakespeare. It’s sold out, but that only means that it’s something that Melbourne audiences really want more of. And multiple visits to. So keep an eye on the Malthouse web site for news. And next time, it would be amazing to have an immersive Australian story like Don’s Party, Summer of the 17th Doll or another Cloudstreet

"Because the Night" Malthouse . Photo by Pia Johnson

 * King Hamlet is dead and possibly haunting his castle. His wife Gertrude quickly married the King's brother/sister Claudius/a, who became monarch. His son Hamlet isn't happy. Polonius is advisor to the monarch and has two children, Laertes and Ophelia. Teenagers Prince Hamlet and Ophelia are hot for each other. There’s a lot of angst and the only option for a Shakespearian ending is “everyone gets married” or “everyone dies”.

Review: The Butch is Back

 Melbourne International Comedy Festival
The Butch is Back
Reuben Kaye
9 April 2020
Maz Watt's
to 18 April 

Reuben Kaye

My review is in Time Out.

08 April 2021

Review: Agony!Misery!

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Zoe Coombs Marr

2 April 2020
Melbourne Town Hall, The Powder Room
to 18 April (with extra shows at The Forum)

Zoe Coombs Marr

My review is at Time Out.

02 April 2021

Review: On the Origin of Faeces

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 
On the Origin of Faeces 
Alanta Colley 
30 March 2021 
The Butterfly Club 
to 4 April 

Alanta Colley

31 March 2021

Guest Review: Moth


18 March 2021
to 21 March

Review by Courtney Beaumont

Moth. Photo by Gregory Lorenzutti 

What flame are you drawn to? What gives you life and, paradoxically, death?

MOTH at Dancehouse explores the cyclical experience of life through precise looping choreography, transformative costume design and exemplary cohesive lighting and sound production. 

Like moths to the flame, three dancers (Emily Shoesmith, Mel Tan and Aimee Schollum) contort and twist, fluttering towards the literal and figurative light. Searching for synchronicity within themselves, the performers move in unity as they discover the light. Director, choreographer and performer Aimee Schollum,from New Zealand, creates a devastating and raw world of destruction that explores the futility of life and the beauty that can be found in it. MOTH follows Schollum's first full length work, Sonos, which won Best Dance at the 2018 Melbourne Fringe. 

The choreography is exceptional – immersive, dynamic, meditative and stressful at times as it explores the metamorphosis of the moths, who move with malleable self-assurance, unaware of their own mortality. With precise unity in movement, they are drawn to a shared flame. As it expands, they discover their personal lights, which prompts the audience to contemplate their own flames. 

 The repetitive, looping choreography combines bodily sounds of percussion, along with the droning original sound design by Tamara Violet Partridge. The sound design lends itself greatly to the raw, pack mentality of the moths and follows the life cycle of the moth. When danger arrives the design is heightened with sound that ignites the primal instincts of flutter and panic. 

Amelia Peace’s costume design is transformative as it breathes with its own sound throughout the work. The costumes first swamp the performers, in brown and dust-stained shapeless gowns that move with the performers. Throughout the performance the costumes slowly are removed along with the moths’ metamorphosis. 

The haunting world of MOTH will have you living and dying with the moths, and meditating on what it is to experience life, despite its futility. Beauty can be found in its cyclical and mesmerising transformation of life, death and rebirth.

Courtney Beaumont is a Melbourne based writer, with a background in theatre and performance. She has worked in production for 10News, as well as reporting for the Herald Sun in urban affairs. She currently writes independently and is an active part of the Melbourne theatre community.

Review: Colour-Fool

ButohOut! 2021 New Ab/Normal

28 March 2021
to 28 March

ButohOut! 2021 New Ab/Normal

My review is on artshub.com..au

09 March 2021

Review: The Human Voice

The Human Voice
Periscope Productions
and Choral Edge
4 March 2020
Meat Market Stables
to 13 March

The writers of 'The Human Voice'. Photo by Sarah Walker
Jean Tong, Georgia Symons, Thomas De Angelis, Lewis Treston, Ang Collins, Fiona Spitzkowsky

Periscope Productions developed the idea of a multi-writer production based around the theme of telephone conversations before 2020. So, while The Human Voice's relevance of using technology to communicate rings loud and clear, the work never loses its initial intent or feels like a reaction to lockdown.

The company, who began at Melbourne University student theatre in 2012, were inspired by a 1930 play by Jean Cocteatu and wanted to explore how we talk to each other on telephones. Voice-to-voice; intimacy without without video or emojis.  Are we more honest when all we have are our voices or does it make it easier to hide what we should say or want to say?

Director Benjamin Sheen invited six of Australia's most-exciting emerging writers – Ang Collins, Fiona Spitzkowsky, Georgia Symons, Jean Tong, Lewis Treston and Thomas De Angelis  to write around the theme. 

The six works are performed by an ensemble of equally-as-exciting performers – Amarachi Okorom, Alex Hines, Chris Wallace, Felicity Steel, Cait Spiker, Mason Phoumirath, Ross Dwyer, Senuri Wagaarachchi – and supported by a live choir – Choral Edge (musical director and composer: Juliana Kay; composer David Keefe; movement director Jessica Dick, who also directed two of the pieces). 

Its disparate elements could feel mismatched, but its unexpected synergy is invigorating, engaging and exciting. 

The audience are initially split into two groups who are divided by a curtain. It's clear that there is a stage and performers on each side. The first short works are phone conversions. Everyone can can hear both sides of the conversation, but can only see one side, as the speaker eye rolls, chair stretches or goes on doing the dishes. As there are laughs from the audience watching the other person, it's easy to imagine that their actions might also not mesh with their words.

Each has written a work that could easily stand alone but is supported by and made stronger by those surrounding it. There's the awkward and comfortable love of talking to family, the "are they really?" of phone sex, the "what-if?" ease that not being physically seen, the freedom of confessing to a stranger, the jealousy of someone calling your person too often, to a sci-fi tension-filled thriller with tins and strings, and the inevitable questions of what happens when people are in the same space again.

Themes of communication easily connect the works, but the theatricality of having a live choir brings more layers of connection. At first the choie can only be heard, but the gut-felt power of humans singing together builds as they get closer and are eventually an integral part of the performance.

Hearing human voices can get us through the worst of times and make life feel normal, but being in the same room as other people is how we make theatre. The Human Voice incorporates many independent theatre voices and by exploring one way that we communicate, it finds many ways to connect with all the humans who see it.

04 March 2021

Review: Runt

2 March 2021
to 7 March

Nicci Wilks 'Runt' Photo by Pier Carthew

This is a something special.

Review: We’re probably really really happy right now

We're probably really really happy right now
Theatre Works and Public Service Announcement Theatre Co
25 February 2021
Theatre Works
to 6 March



'We're probably really really happy right now' Photo by Pia Johnson

My review in Time Out.