Sunday, 27 December 2009

2009 Theatre Wrap, Melbourne, Dec 27, 2009

2009 Theatre Wrap, Melbourne
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Published in Herald Sun, Melbourne

There were myriad shows that I missed in 2009 however, the Brits won my points for fine script writing this year and many were low-budget productions. Lobby Hero was a complex, intimate, English play about moral dilemmas while Cold Comfort grabbed me round the neck and shook me hard with its gritty portrayal of a prodigal son returning to his father’s wake in Belfast.

The Melbourne Festival provided two compelling and innovative productions: Pornography, a riveting English play produced by a German company, and Terminus, with its grim but comical, other-worldly tale about death, loss and love in an Irish urban landscape.

Independent Australian plays scored well too. Ash Flanders was gaspingly good reprising the disturbed and disturbing Manchester boy in I Love You Bro. Denis Moore and Margaret Mills shone in the distressing play, And No More Shall We Part while Finucane and Smith produced two sublimely joyful, eccentric shows: Salon de Dance and The Feast of Argentina Gina Catalina.

Big shows took my fancy too. I laughed like a drain at Pamela Rabe and Hugo Weaving in Yasmina Reza’s God Of Carnage at MTC. Neil Pigot’s opening scene in When the Rain Stops Falling was inspired although the rest of the play was less successful.

Musicals won hearts this year with Billy Elliot being the stand out followed by Jersey Boys and the acerbic, naughty Avenue Q. However, Chicago looked tired when it reached Melbourne.

At the MTC, August Osage County boasted a marvellous cast but its iconic status as the new “American family drama” was unwarranted. Poor Boy did not integrate songs and story well and Rockabye started comical but became didactic. The Malthouse had a mixed year with Lally Katz’s script for Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd being chaotic and Woyzeck favouring style over content.

Keep going to the theatre in 2010. There is always a gem to be found for a few dollars in a tiny, out-of-the-way theatre.

by Kate Herbert

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