Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Theatre Wrap-Up 2015 - Melbourne

See next post for three theatre shows upcoming in 2016 in Melbourne. KH
Although no theatre shows scored my elusive 5 stars in 2015, two international productions and a local production of an Irish play claimed my accolades with 4½ stars, while a handful of shows received 4 stars.

1. The production that still haunts me was Bronx Gothic (4½ stars), written & performed by the mesmerising Okwui Okpokwasili who brought this solo piece from New York to the Melbourne Festival.

Okpokwasili’s startling, solo performance was visceral and punishing for both performer and audience. 

She lovingly created a tortured but beautifully wrought, emotional and physical landscape that was a metaphor for pubescence and the intimate life of children on the verge of sexual discovery.

2. Running a close second was 1984, a stage adaptation by UK company, Headlong, of George Orwell’s 1949 book that foreshadowed a dystopian future that resembles our present.

The production conjured a compelling, theatrical landscape while provoking vehement political discourse and its sense of impending doom, mental torment, Shakespearean violence and graphic torture was unnerving.

The direction was uncluttered and seamless, the adaptation synthesised Orwell’s message into a concise script, clear concept, searing narrative and credible characters that were all delivered by an impeccable ensemble.

3. The 4½ star local production of The Weir by Irish playwright, Conor McPherson, featured realistic characters whose barely masked fears and flaws drove both drama and comedy in this play set in a village pub in the West of Ireland.

Directed by Sam Strong, The Weir is successful because of its skillful writing and acting (Peter Kowitz, Ian Meadows, Robert Menzies, Greg Stone, Nadine Garner), humour, humanity and bold willingness to explore the primitive fears lurking within us all.

4. Piece For Person and Ghetto Blaster (4 stars) encapsulated Nicola Gunn’s tantalising, entertaining, ridiculous and often bewildering performance style.

Gunn is an eccentric, charming and mischievous performer and this idiosyncratic performance was a collision of stylised movement with vivid, direct-to-audience storytelling about a woman who witnesses a man throwing stones at a sitting duck.

5. At Red Stitch, Nadia Tass directed The Flick (4 stars), Annie Baker’s fly-on-the-wall view of three cleaners in a shabby cinema that resists swapping from 35mm films to digital movies.

Baker’s cunningly wrought dialogue crackles with wit and illuminates characters (Ngaire Dawn Fair, Kevin Hofbauer and Ben Prendergast) in a surprising series of vignettes performed among the empty seats of the fleapit movie house.

By Kate Herbert
See next post for three theatre shows upcoming in 2016 in Melbourne. KH


  1. well, agree with all that, Ms. Kate!

  2. Thanks, Annie. Of course, I didn't see every theatre show in 2015 so there will be some great shows that others will have loved but I did not see. K