Review: The Histrionic ~ theatre notes

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: The Histrionic

The Malthouse/Sydney Theatre Company production of Thomas Bernhard's 1984 play The Histrionic is, apparently, the first professional production of Bernhard's work anywhere in Australia. The transparency of Daniel Schlusser's triumphant production makes you wonder what the problem was: why did we have to wait so long? The Histrionic is so manifestly a brilliantly written play, gripping from its beginning to its extraordinary final moments. It's outrageous, sadistic, hilarious, brutally bathetic, playfully and powerfully theatrical. In the most expansive sense of the word, it's an entertainment, exploiting every trick in the theatrical book: but here Bernhard employs entertainment as a depth charge, to destroy the submarine walls of our self-regard.

Bille Brown as Bruscon in The Histrionic. Photo: Jeff Busby

The Histrionic premiered nearly three decades ago. I'm well used to the fact that most significant playwrights, especially those outside the Anglosphere, are largely invisible in our mainstage culture - where are our professional productions of major contemporary dramatists such as (to stick with the Europeans) Jon Fosse, Elfriede Jelinek, Biljana Srbljanovic, Falk Richter? - but for some reason this delay struck me. If anything demonstrates the narrowness of our mainstream culture, it's this kind of catching up after the fact. It's not as if myopia is limited to overseas writers: we had to wait longer than three decades to have Patrick White's The Ham Funeral professionally produced in Melbourne, and his plays are still thought of, even by people who ought to know better, as lesser achievements than his novels. The luminously unconventional, the intransigently theatrical, the poetic, the rawly intelligent, even the beautiful, have more often than not been marginalised in Australian culture.

Nowhere do our colonial petticoats show more than in Australia's anxious love for authority. In our culture, genuine artistic originality, with its unsettling combination of disrespect for authority and serious respect for its own antecedents, can only figure as an embarrassment. It has no visible means of support, no legitimisation beyond its own artistry. In a colonial culture, the fear of being thought "wrong" overwhelms all other possibilities of reception. It even muffles outrage: the response to too many of our most interesting artists has been the white noise of silence. Bernhard is the model of another possibility, and this production of The Histrionic is one of several events that suggests that doors long sealed shut may now, very slowly, be creaking open.

Thomas Bernhard was no stranger to outrage: no writer was more embarrassing to his own culture.  Shortly before Bernhard's death, President Kurt Waldheim - at the time enmeshed in controversy over his wartime service in the Wehrmacht in Eastern Europe - called his play Heldenplatz (Heroes’ Square) a “crude insult to the Austrian people”. It was also a crude insult to Waldheim, whom Bernhard denounced in the play as a liar. Bernhard made himself a scandal: as one of Austria's most important postwar writers, he's impossible to ignore, and yet his life's work was an attack on his homeland. His insults continued after his death: one of the provisos in his will was a ban, until copyright expires, on any Austrian production of his plays. I'm not sure we could sustain such a figure here; the only writer who remotely approaches this kind of ambiguous cultural position is Patrick White, and the comparison is an uneasy one.

Bernard was obsessed with the moral catastrophe of Austria, and in particular its denial of its Nazi past. The scar of Nazism runs through all his work, as it runs through European history: it's the giant faultline on which Europe's pretensions to civilisation crumbled into barbarism. Bernhard's response was to become histrionic, (a theatermacher, a "scene maker"). In all his work, from newspaper articles to plays to novels, he excoriated Austria as a gallery of grotesques: hypocrites and fools, liars and murderers, "a nation of six and a half million idiots living in a country that is rotting away". Yet Bernhard's role was curiously ambiguous. As his biographer, Gitta Honneger, acutely points out: "As energetically as he dramatised himself as the unwanted outsider, he constructed himself as the penultimate insider. … The renegade son laid claim to a cultural nobility Austria had forfeited."  And, she added, pointing to Bernhard's qualities as a literary actor: "Such a feat required a brilliant performer…"

Given this, it's impossible not to see Bruscon, the central figure in The Histrionic, as a kind of grotesque self-portrait. Like Bernhard, Bruscon is both writer and actor: he is the fleshly embodiment of ambiguity and contradiction, the one who contemplates and the one who enacts. And he is high culture personified: he is, as he tells us, "the greatest nationally recognised performing artist / In this nation’s history". He even has "the piece of paper, the medal" to prove it. The play is basically a monologue: Bruscon is surrounded by a cast of unfortunate witnesses and enablers who act as the brunt of his abuse and sadism. For Bruscon they are the admiring, uncomprehending masses, the anti-talented slaves to his talent, the necessary ears for his long lament.

L-R: Katherine Tonkin, Bille Brown and Kelly Butler. Photo: Jeff Busby

The conceit is this. Our hero (Bille Brown) has arrived at the Black Hart inn in the tiny pig-farming hamlet of Utzbach (280 people). He is on tour with his family theatre company, his son Ferruccio (Josh Price), his daughter Sarah (Edwina Wren) and his consumptive wife Agatha (Jennifer Vuletic).  But here in Utzbach, Bruscon is casting pearls before swine: the performance of his masterpiece The Wheel of History - an allegorical absurdity featuring the great figures of history, from Napoleon to Stalin - is threatened by the local fire chief, by the incompetence of his actors, even by the fact that in the Black Hart the staff is busy with Blood Sausage Day. Bruscon bullies the landlord (Barry Otto), the landlady (Kelly Butler) and the landlord's glaucomic daughter Erna (Katherine Tonkin). Almost all of the supporting cast suffers from injury, illness or deformity: Otto's landlord has so many tics and twitches he is almost a blur; Ferruccio's hand is broken after a third floor fall sustained on the way to the toilet; Madame Bruscon is suffering from a malady of the lungs which makes her particularly allergic to the stench of pigs. Bruscon himself is, of course, a monster.

Every line in the play is shot through with a corrosive irony and ambiguity. Bruscon is ridiculous, patently pathetic; his play, as we see it through his descriptions and rehearsals, is a nonsensical, ahistorical fiction in which every fact is comically wrong. He insists that every picture is taken out of the hall, aside from a cobwebbed portrait of Hitler. "Everyone here is Hitler," he tells his son. "So leave the picture here / As a reminder." He is the model of misogynist, patriarchal tyranny: in a disturbing scene with his daughter, he tortures her until she informs him that he is the greatest actor that ever lived.  And yet his criticisms are deadly serious, and hit home: "There was once a forest / Now there’s a quarry / There were once wetlands / Now cement works / There was once a human being / Now there’s a Nazi..."

The declension in each case is from organic complexity to brutal simplicity, the reduction of things and people to objects of use. And this is where Bruscon's contempt attains the "cultural nobility" that Gitta Honneger says Bernhard claimed for himself: it is the sour lees of the never-realised ideals of the Enlightenment, the remains of the respect for complex human possibility, now destroyed beyond the hope of its even being perceived. That's a lament by no means confined to 1980s Austria: this reduction to use is the machinery which is most powerfully at work in our contemporary world. Just as the Nazis burned people in their ovens, our reductive vision is reducing our living planet, forest by forest, to ash. It's no accident the landlord's daughter is half blind.

And yet, just as he embodies the desolate remnants of high culture, so Bruscon gives us its culpability and complicity. Like everyone else, he is Hitler. The central moral question of Western culture after World War 2, as rehearsed through thinker after thinker, from Steiner to Adorno, from Handke to Jelinek to Fassbinder, was how one of the most evolved cultures in world history spawned the genocidal atrocity that was Nazism. It's a question that Bernhard presents, without giving us an answer: and it's a question that, rather than retreating into the shadows of the 20th century, strikes hard now.

The Histrionic is a satire on many things, but perhaps first of all it's a satire on history itself. At its centre is the play that we never see performed. The Wheel of History is, as Bruscon informs us, a comedy that comprehends all of human history, but all we get to see of his masterpiece is Bruscon himself. To complicate his ambiguity, Bruscon becomes, to borrow a distinction from Walter Benjamin, at once symbol and allegory. He combines the particular aspects of symbol and the general aspects of allegory: he is an individual with a specific historical biography, and an abstract embodiment of the vicious futility of a tragic history.

Writing about German tragic drama, or Trauerspiele, Benjamin said: "Everything about history that, from its very beginning, has been untimely, sorrowful, unsuccessful, is expressed in a face - or rather is a death's head. And although such a thing lacks all 'symbolic' freedom of expression, all classical proportion, all humanity - nevertheless, this is the form in which man's subjection to nature is most obvious and it significantly gives rise not only to the enigmatic question of the nature of human existence as such, but also of the biographical historicity of the individual. This is the heart of the allegorical way of seeing, of the baroque, secular explanation of history as the Passion of the world; its importance resides solely in the stations of its decline. The greater the significance, the greater to subjection to death, because death digs most deeply the jagged line of demarcation between physical nature and significance."

Bruscon is Bernhard's death's head, marking the stations of History's decline. We are here to witness his crucifixion.

"Allegories," as Benjamin said in the same essay, "are, in the realm of thoughts, what ruins are in the realm of things." In Bernhard's world, the disaster has already happened: we stand in the ruins of culture, surrounded by the rubble that is all that remains of its vainglory. When we walk into the Merlyn, we encounter Marg Horwell's set, which is an apparently structureless space littered with absurd kitsch: gigantic plaster statues of eagles or neo-classical hands, overblown paintings casually leaning against the wall, bare rostra strewn with sawdust or crumbs that an automatic vacuum cleaner, buzzing to and fro, is vainly attempting to clear. The landlord's family is lounging about doing nothing in particular; Madame Bruscon stalks on, wearing an inhaler and dragging a suitcase. Nothing happens, aside from the casual markings of insignificant activities, until Bruscon arrives to prickle the cast into guilty activity as he surveys the scene with contempt. "My God... complete cultural wasteland..."

Tom Wright's translation is robust and theatrical, with a hint of Australian colloquialism that serves this production well; terms such as "proletarian" have been transposed to "suburban" or "battlers", subtly habituating the text to local conditions without any crass parallelism. Schlusser's production strings this text across the stage with an apparent artlessness, and makes it resonate.

There's been a lot of discussion recently about auteur theatre, not much of it to the point, which makes Schlusser's arrival on the main stage of particular interest. For years he has been creating some of Melbourne's most essential theatre. So far his most interesting work has been investigations of classic plays - Peer Gynt, A Doll's House, Life is a Dream - which have been meticulously undone and represented in a kind of radical uber-naturalism. In The Histrionic, Bernhard has written a text in which everything is already dislocated: Schlusser's job is to enable the process of decline, as it occurs before our eyes. What is perhaps most striking about this production is how, while it is unmistakeably a Schlusser production, it exposes the essential modesty of his practice.

The nature of the play is, in fact, particularly suited to Schlusser's performance-centred approach. Almost all of the text belongs to Bille Brown, who gives what must be the performance of his life. He is all the colours of the histrionic, with the deeper black of sorrow rising up within his acting like silt, until he is trapped in a final, tragically absurd stillness. The rest of the cast, all six of them, are dim foils to Bruscon's brilliance. Yet even when they aren't directly involved in scenes, we are aware of their constant, uneasy presence about the stage: they labour awkwardly to clear the dance hall of its rubble, picking up gigantic props and putting them down pointlessly elsewhere, involving themselves in inscrutable tasks that engage all their attention.

This is choreographed with a precise sense of rhythm that works contrapuntally to Brown's central drama. The result is a performative richness that emerges, paradoxically, from the deliberate visual poverties of the stage. It means that when the production shifts to full-blown theatricality, as it does towards the end, this movement has a sense of evolution, rather than its appearing out of nowhere: in the background, the theatricality has already been sketched for us.

The usual criticism of auteur theatre is that one only sees the director's ego at work. This production is saturated with the director's vision, but in performance his hand becomes almost invisible. What we witness is the enabling of performance, which itself reveals the living tissue of the text. It's exhilarating to see a play of this intransigent quality given such an intelligent, unapologetic production. Unmissable.

The Histrionic (Der Theatermacher) by Thomas Bernhard, translated by Tom Wright, directed by Daniel Schlusser. Sets and costumes by Marg Horwell, lighting design by Paul Jackson, sound design and composition by Darrin Verhagen, With Bille Brown, Kelly Butler, Barry Otto, Josh Price, Katherine Tonkin, Jennifer Vuletic and Edwina Wren. Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company. Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse, until May 5; Wharf 1 Theatre, STC, June 20 to July 28.


Jason Blake said...

Hi Alison,

I remember a production of Bernhard's Force of Habit way back in 1993. Jean-Pierre Mignon directed it at Gasworks. Julie Forsythe, Ernie Gray and Ian Scott were in it. Can't recall if it was "professional" though.

Anonymous said...

That's a very interesting review, and has given me a lot to think about.
My take is quite different, though.
I did not find the performance funny, even though I know others did.
Part of the problem lay in the transposition of an intervention into Austrian history outside that specific context. Accusations of an underlying authoritarianism in a national culture has an obvious charge in an Austrian context, a charge that's lacking when the play's presented in an almost generic setting. Yes, I know some reviewers have drawn analogies with Australia's troubled relationship with its own history but that wasn't foregrounded in the production, which meant that the monologue lacked any bite.
The references to the nation of Hitlers would, one imagines, have prompted real unease among an Austrian audience, comparable, perhaps, to that felt by a local crowd hearing jokes about, say, Anzac Day, where you laugh because the topic's both important and uncomfortable, because, in other words, a real taboo's been broached.
To me, the play was neither sufficiently Austrian nor adequately transposed to an Australian context, and instead sat in an abstract, theatrical place, which is why, I think, so many reviewers lauded the play as a celebration of theatre, with Bruscon interpreted as a depiction of actorly excesses. To me, that reading seems wrong, but more importantly, kind of banal; I felt like people were laughing precisely because the play wasn't making them uncomfortable, rather than because it was.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Jason - only quoting claims made in pre-publicity here, hence the get-out clause "apparently". Bernhard certainly hasn't - to my knowledge, at least - been produced on a main stage.

And hi Jeff - (that's Jeff Sparrow there - he confessed): I think that's an interesting point. The play struck home for me - I found it kept working its way into my head like a burr - but personally speaking, these questions feel very immediate and uncomfortable to me.

But you're probably right about that response in a more general sense. There's no doubt that the references to Hitler will be less uneasy here, where we don't have the same historical scar and denial: on the other hand, it's entirely possible for a metaphor from a different culture to strike unexpected resonances (or why culture at all?) Otherwise we would only be capable of responding to work that references us quite literally. If that's the case, there's no hope for us. There's certainly much that is absolutely pertinent to us in this play, if we care to listen.

But among other things you're talking about emphasis: I think there's another thing at work, which is about the local expectations of theatre, rather than the local history. "We" (sorry about the constant use of the Royal "we", but there's no convenient substitute) are not accustomed to seeing the theatre as a serious intellectual sparring ring, unless maybe it has big signs around it and an educational remit; and maybe especially not when it is in play, as it is here. This why White kept turning up in my thinking about Bernhard: his plays have certainly suffered from that kind of perception. I don't know how you meet those smaller expectations of theatre with a piece like this: but certainly to pander to them would be egregious. One thing: Daniel Schlusser's anti-theatrical production did everything it could to dismantle the idea of theatrical celebration: it was theatre as abjection, if ever there was.

The world Bernhard creates is not a real one, neither here nor in Austria: its reality is wholly and crucially theatrical. So while it's not a mistake to think it's about theatre, it is limiting to think it's only about theatre: the theatre Bernhard is presenting is, as he says again and again, the monstrous lie that is history itself, especially history as narrative of Great Men etc. I don't think that the cultural particularity is a problem, so much as how unused we are, for all our obsessing over it, to thinking about history and its related questions (especially the moral questions) in the way that Bernhard makes fun of it here. Denial operates in many ways… and History is still what happens elsewhere.

Andrew Fuhrmann said...

Re colonial petticoats, this is from the excellent /Brecht & Co: German-speaking Playwrights on the Australian Stage/: "Jurgen Zielinski, responsible for make up and wigs in Kosky's Faust, confirmed the strong commercial pressures in mainstream theatre when he recalled in personal interview (19 Apr. 1996) that the MTC did not take up his proposal to stage a play by Thomas Bernhard, such as Ritter.Dene.Voss., because "they considered it too difficult".

Richard Pettifer said...

Thanks Alison, an interesting review. (There aren’t… exactly many immediate questions to be asked, are there? Only glowing to be done. I’ve been considering how to respond, or whether there IS a response, for some time, and a thank-you for pricking me into action).

I think Jeff’s above comment regarding cultural specificity can be dismissed as not taking up Bernhard’s challenge. “We are all Hitler” – it is not only about Austria, it’s a challenge to each individual and to all humankind, one which is about accountability for historical action, and thus accountability for present action. If one does not accept responsibility, one runs the risk of becoming Hitler. In some senses it is the ultimate accusation and in other ways it strikes the raw nerve of truth. For the Theatremaker at the centre of the play, the path to power is the same as the one Hitler took, which questions whether anything has changed. Bernhard feels like Hitler, and in making this confession becomes a form of sacrificial lamb. Changing it to a portrait of Abbott/Bolt/Rinehart would do nothing to increase it’s relevance for me, please excuse the association that is being made there (and also, please don’t).

Likewise, the creation of this grotesque diva character is a creation to take responsibility for. Within the theatre, the creation is all too familiar – misogyny, tyranny, power at all expense. For the viewer there’s no way out of this – and for this reason I found it acutely stressful. If the play sat nicely in satire or parody, as we commonly think of them here, then it would give you a comfortable separation. But it doesn’t give you that easy option.

Whilst I agree with you that the play will perform an important educational function, unfortunately this will (again) be lessened by barriers such as 1) TICKET PRICES, and 2) INADEQUATE/INVISIBLE CRITICISM (I doubt there is another critic who will label it a ‘must-see’, by all means prove me wrong on this), and I will also throw in 3) the separation of ‘artist community’ from the general public, albeit as symptoms of the above, but with the result, for this play, of a horrible accusation, which I discussed afterwards with some other ‘theatre people’ of it being “one big theatre in-joke” which outsiders will not “get”, which you perhaps knowingly avoid in your review because it is in many ways a shameful reading for all of us. For me, all of this should be tarred and feathered as yet another cultural failing, not in order that it be excused, but as a means of accepting responsibility and something to get angry about. I was sad while watching this play because whilst I greatly appreciated the intelligence of it, I concurrently assumed something so accurate can not be successful for the Malthouse. But perhaps I’m being pessimistic, and again I am putting these up as observations which I hope I will one day, if not by this particular play, see disproved on a wide scale in my country.

It certainly makes an interesting companion piece to Red at Mtc – a play “about” art, which gives you an easy option (“Oh well, thank god I ain’t Rothko”) as opposed to a piece of art-theatre (putting into context Friels’ diatribe in The Australian, or SOYP’s various dish-outs). The difference perhaps is about activation of the spectator, opposed to dormant contemplation of issues presented. This is more than a matter of personal preference, and regards art’s political function.

I might add that what I found beautiful about the writing was its naked honesty, bordering on sadomasochism - especially about this idea of: ambition. Bernhard’s willingness to autobiographise himself, inviting criticism and contempt (perhaps itself sadomasochistic?) brings up a big ‘why?’ that I think it is worth trying to answer. If there’s a warning here – what is it?

Perhaps this is a perfect illustration of a different form of satire to the one we commonly see on Australian stages, that of the Indigeridoo or various quasi-satirical boyish clowning, which feel very different (and hollow) in comparison.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi 4Coffins - I should point out that the reviews have been pretty well unanimously glowing on this production.

I'm fairly amused - and I'm sure Bernhard would be - to think that his play might have any educational function. Unless you mean that in the broader sense of being a provocation to thought, which is, after all, the only education worth bothering about.

On your other comments, I do think it's fairly perilous reading Bernhard straight, and especially psychologically - he's far too canny, not to say mischievous, for that. He might be making, as I suggested, a grotesque self portrait, but if so, it's only a portrait of his public self(s). He was notoriously and almost completely private in his personal life. If Bruscon does reflect his writerly self, it's in the sense of a social/cultural self-accusation - where does culpability begin and end? And Bruscon exists in the context of a lot of other questioning, political, social and literary.

I wouldn't dismiss Jeff's comments so easily - I can see his point, if only because the play has been commonly received as primarily a theatrical in-joke. It is, but it is also much more than that. I do think that in-joke status only holds as long as you don't listen to the actual text!

Chris Boyd said...

Jason, ANT's production of Force of Habit was part of the 1993 Fringe Arts Festival (as it was known back then) but it was definitely a Pro production. It opened on September 8.

jeff busby said...

Yes Chris, Anthill's production of The Force of Habit was remarkable, dug out the old B+W proofs this afternoon.

Petru Gheorghiu as Caribaldi, The Ring Master
Ernie Gray as The Juggler
Julie Forsyth as The Granddaughter
Hugh Wayland as The Clown
Ian Scott a The Lion Tamer

Interestingly the programme gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the Austrian Embassy...

If I may also quote this from the programme

Bernhard on Theatre

"The curtain goes up, there's a dung heap on the stage, more and more flies show up, the curtain comes down"

Bit tough wasn't he.

Suzanne Chaundy exANT said...

Hi, yes Anthill was ahead of the pack. Tom W certainly would have known about the production having been in one of our shows a little before Force of Habit. It is really interesting how many shows Anthill produced in the very early '90's that Daniel has been exploring - Peer Gynt, Life is a Dream, Bernhardt (different play but oh such similar terrain) and also his recent creative development of Master and Margarita which the $5 Theatre presented at Anthill many years ago Very different stylistic choices though. And re what Jeff said it was a rare coup but indeed we had a very significant contribution from the Austrian Embassy!

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks all. I'm not surprised that Anthill produced Bernhard (and what a great cast); like other independent companies, they did many important writers - I remember a production of Bernard-Marie Koltes, for instance - who were otherwise neglected here. Those writers were still, bizarrely, considered "fringe" writers by the "mainstream", which is really the substance of my point.

Anonymous said...

The translation was by Tom Wright, the exile in Sydney, not Thomas Wright, beardy black lung beer ad star.
Just in case anyone was confused.

Thomas F Wright (another one)

Alison Croggon said...

Oops. I did call him Thomas. I don't know why.

Anonymous said...

Also, Ferrucio is played by Josh Price, not Josh Wright.

Alison Croggon said...

You have no idea how often I checked those names. It's my subconscious sabotaging me. Apologies, especially to Josh Price, and now fixed.

Cameron Woodhead said...

Nice review, Alison. You're in fine fettle at the moment.

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks Cameron: much appreciated. Fell off the fettle pretty much instantly, but such is life.

Gobsmacked said...

"Nice review, Alison. You're in fine fettle at the moment."?!!

Who are you and what have you done with Cameron Woodhead?

Scott Crozier said...

It has been some years since I have been totally gobsmacked by a Melbourne production. The Histrionic was much more than I expected - Bille Brown should be deemed a living treasure in Australia alone for his performance! I suppose though what is continually reverberating for me 24 hours later is the beautifully farcial way in which the crushed Austrian empire was referenced both by characters and by the staging. Just loved it.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Scott - glad to hear you loved it. I'm very tempted to return... And hi Gobsmacked: perhaps it might disappoint you to hear that for all the pistols at dawn in blogland, Cameron and I actually have a cordial collegial relationship?

Richard Pettifer said...

not sure whether this is evidence in support of or against :)

Anonymous said...

I am so shocked that Malthouse Theatre is closing The Histrionic early. I saw the production last week and agree with Scott's earlier comments, i was floored! An incredible meeting of spectacular performance and intuitive stage design (I had not seen Daniel Schlusser's or Marg Horwell's work before - inspiring). Wanting to see the show again I tried to book a ticket for the final week to find out it has closed early. Is it unusual for a company to abandon a production in this way?

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Anon - I don't know what the story is. According to the website, it closes on May 3 (two days earlier than on the program: the weekend performances seem to have been cut). There may be any number of reasons for this. So you can still see it this week.

Benjamin Brooker said...

An AusStage search suggests Australia has seen at least three productions of Bernhard's work prior to 'The Histrionic': the previously discussed 'Force of Habit', 'Hideous Portraits' (Mene Mene Theatre, 1997) and 'Lunch with Ludwig' (New Theatre, 2005). The 'professionalism' of these proudctions is debatable ('Portraits' probably pro co-op, 'Ludwig' probably pro-am) but I think they're worth noting if only because they demonstrate Bernhard's plays have not found their way into everybody's too hard basket. If anyone is interested, the AusStage record for 'Force of Habit' is fairly complete and lists reviews by Fiona Scott-Norman, Helen Thomson, Leonard Radic and others.

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks, Benjamin. Your research is much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Alison for your insightful review which I had to find after reading a few uninspired Sydney ones. I didn't know this playwright or the director and am so glad STC brought this fabulous clever production here. Have never blogged before, but keen reader of theatre criticism and secondary Drama teacher - have much to discuss with my students tomorrow. Think I might have to move to Melbourne!

Alison Croggon said...

HI Anon - I'm very glad you liked it (and how marvellous to get a comment that's not about Queen Lear!) Yes, you should probably bring your whole class to Melbourne!