Parochial notes ~ theatre notes

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Parochial notes

Today, dearly beloved, let me speak of the parish. I'm beginning to think that, here on the east coast of Australia, we have the liveliest and hardest working theatrical blogosphere around. As some commenters remark on Nick Pickard's Sydney Arts Journo blog (making a welcome return to life this week after one of those inevitable hiatuses with some reviews and an interesting post about criticism), blogs are where the conversations happen.

I was delighted, for example, to see the Captain at his B'log make an impassioned defence of the much maligned production of The Man from Mukinupin, which closed this week at the MTC. "We spend so much time scratching around in the chookyard of Australian theatre looking for the great play or film," says the Captain. "Perhaps we ought to stop digging up worms and embrace our unruly, uncompromising writers of yesteryear. Patrick White has been at last accepted onto the stage. It seems we are not yet ready for Dorothy Hewett." Too right, I fear.

Meanwhile, Mark over at The Perf puzzles over the phenomenon of hype in considering the Belvoir St production of Simon Stone's The Promise. There are two reviews of Lady Macbeth of Mtensk, now on at Belvoir St Downstairs, one from hardworking Melbourne blogger Jana at Guerilla Semiotics and the other at Epistemysics (who considers at length the program notes and scores them too). James Waites is climbing back on board after a dark time, and has posted reviews of two STC showings - Benedict Andrews' production of The City and the MTC show Poor Boy.

Back in Melbourne, Neandellus soberly contemplates the Malthouse production of Happy Days (did I urge you to see this? - it closes this week) and Jana is first cab off the rank with a weighty contemplation of BalletLab's Miracle. (Hoping to get to both of those here any minute now...) And let's not forget Michael Magnusson at On Stage and Walls Melbourne or Richard Watts's doughty blogging at Man About Town (with extra titbits for genre fanboys and grrrls...I owe Richard a drink for pointing me to my current TV fave, Being Human). There's more, but that's probably enough to be going on with.

Meanwhile, permit me a moment's indulgence. Over a particularly demanding weekend, I attended five of the eight Daniel Keene chamber plays now in repertory at the Dog Theatre in Footscray. I'm not reviewing this season, collectively called The Cove, but I believe it deserves attention. To be honest, I told Matt Scholten he was bonkers for trying to direct so many: these plays might look simple, but they are far from straightforward - in many ways, they are as unforgiving as Beckett - and they're very easy to get wrong. He and his team pull off a mighty feat, and give this work an elegant framing of enormous delicacy that shows off some remarkably powerful performances - especially Jan Friedl and Bruce Myles, who are as good as I've ever seen them, and Majid Shokor, who is simply astounding. It's a rare chance to see why those Europeans are so enthusiastic about Keene.


Jason said...

Hi Alison,

I'd like to give a shameless shout-out to the often-overlooked Brisbane theatre scene and my writings on Australian Stage Online.

Brisbane theatre-goers have seen some plays of questionable writing of late, though I found these instructive in themselves. Made what I think are some pertinent points on good and very bad scripts reviewing Queensland Theatre Company's The School of Arts and 25 Down recently, along with the Tony-winning God of Carnage which will open in Melbourne later this year. Also, La Boite's bio-play Oodgeroo - Bloodline to Country on Kath Walker was quite ideologically earnest, I felt. Hard to find really great writing for the stage - which is why I enjoyed the local production of Company B's The Seed earlier this year.

We're seeing more plays like God of Carnage and last year's The Narcissist (which the Sydney Theatre Company picked up) debut in Brisbane before heading south. So don't forget about us!

Love reading your thoughts. Keep it up.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Jason - brilliant to hear, and please keep shouting. It's hard to keep up with what's going on in Brisbane (I fear my major source is the Australian) and it's good to know about it, especially those previews of shows coming our way. I see you have a blog too - which I have duly noted!

Jason said...

Yeah, forget The Australian. Australian Stage is great because it allows you to write more essay-style reviews rather than the squeeze-everything-in-400-words reviews in the daily papers.

And if I'm not getting paid for my prolific output, it would be nice to know somebody is at least reading them. :-)

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

I was wondering why I had a sudden spike in traffic - now I know why! Thanks for the mention, Alison.

Out of interest, if we're the parish, does that make you the High Priestess? It's just that I've got this cousin in Melbourne who needs christening, and if you're not too busy...

Alison Croggon said...

Surely only a humble vicar...