30 September 2015


Laura Davis, Ghost Machine
26 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Son of Loft
to 3 October

If you haven't seen Laura Davis before, she's the real deal and then some.

Ghost Machine is stand up that's theatre and story and everything that makes stand up soul-on-stage amazing.

There were times when I didn't know whether to laugh myself sick or get up and hug her.


Exit Everything
Workers Club, Fitzroy
to 3 October

I saw this before the Fringe started in a guitar shop in Frankston.

Singing to Nirvana among guitars at the end of suburbia. It reminded me how important music – and rock – used to be to me.

Here's Keith Gow's review on AussieTheatre.com. 


Lovely Lady Lump
26 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Upstairs at Errol's
to 3 October

Fuck cancer and that horrible pale pink. Lana Schwartz was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and assures her audience that she makes it through the show and is alive at the end of her story.

This is an hilariously honest hour about cancer: making jokes in radiotherapy; getting used to strangers look at your boobs; wanting to give the "gift" back; and looking ok on the outside but being constantly exhausted, sore, tender and numb.

And there are boob puppets.

I'm in my 40s and it's frightening how breast cancer becomes a thing that everyone has some direct or indirect experience of. So if you're over 40, please book a mammogram when you book your tickets.

MELBOURNE FRINGE: Welcome to Nowhere

Welcome to Nowhere
25 September 2015
Coopers Malthouse, Tower Theatre
to 3 October

Five incredible writers (Angus Cerini, Zoey Dawson, Daniel Keene, Fleur Kilpatrick and Morgan Rose), one fantabulous director (Emma Valente) and a heap of amazing students from Monash Uni.

If you have to choose one show this weekend, this is it.

Morgan Rose's piece is the highlight. Up to now, I've been unsure of her work but now I totally get her.

Fleur's is all alieny and full of gentle magical realism and heart, Zoey's is loud and mad, Daniel's is about families and dealing with the death of a father who broke his own family, and Angus's is violent and confronting. What more could you want in a night at the theatre!

Working with incredible students who perform, designed and operate, Emma has made these disparate writings come together as a work that speaks even louder than its parts.

Here's Myf Clark's review on Aussie Theatre.

29 September 2015

MELBOURNE FRINGE: Isabel and Rachel in Prime!

Isabel and Rachel in Prime!
26 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Upstairs at Errol's
to 3 October

The fear sets in when the pre-show music is Enya. What if it's a feminist performance-art trigger-warning sacred-vagina dance?

It is. With cloaks, poetry and a sperm mime performed by the Sisters of the Moon.

But Rachel Davis and Isabel Angus are under those cloaks…

Isabel and Rachel are finding their fresh, unique and insanely hilarious voice as a straight-stooge duo that welcomes new characters each show.

In PRIME!, Deborah (Rachel) has been abandoned by her fellow sister performer so has asked Jono, her 14-year old son (Isabel), to fill in. There’s a Vienetta in the fridge at home if he’s learnt his lines and doesn’t display his “ignorance of female autonomy”. But he wants to do the Jono Show, where a bit is funny because he’s a guy pretending to be a chick.

Their commentary on gender issues, especially that of how young women are perceived compared to young men, is painfully spot on, but it’s the misunderstanding, love and acceptance between the Deborah and Jono that takes it to the next level.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.


Poet Vs. Pageant
26 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Son of Loft
to 3 October

Another one that I really loved and am really looking forward to seeing how it develops.

Review in The Age.

And back in 2012, The Poet Laureate still let me write my favourite review ever.


23 September 2015
to 3 October

The Boardwalk Republic is rocking as a south-side mini Fringe hub at Gasworks.

Review in The Age.

26 September 2015


She Said Theatre
20 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Parlour Room
to 3 October

HART is beautiful, heartbreaking and liberating storytelling.

With old checkerboard lino, faded damask wallpaper and a wooden table, the tiny stage in the Fringe hub Parlour Room looks like a farm kitchen from anytime in the last 200 years. A place where people yarn and gossip and share their stories.  It’s here that Ian Michael tells the stories – including his own – of four Noongar men from, what we call, south-west Western Australia.

From interviews with writers (Senna van Helten and Michael) and testimonies told to the Stolen Germinations’ Testimonies Foundation, the four stories are told in the first person. With Michael keeping the same persona, it’s not always clear who’s story is being told, and it’s this technique that makes it such an extraordinary telling.

Each is so personal – it’s easy to dismiss a generalisation, but much harder to ignore one person’s experience – but their similarities and the discussion of generational trauma and forgiveness make it a story about us and now.

HART opens with sound grabs from our politicians. While there are moments of relief and pride, too many cannot see the shame and ignorance in their statements. What do we have to do to get them to see work – “excellent” art – like this?

It continues with photos of people whose stories could also be told. The photos flash by so quickly that it’s impossible to really see them. This is frustrating but painfully cries out that there are so many stories that have already been lost.

Once told, stories cannot be lost and we have to keep telling them until everyone listens.

The was on AussieTheatre.com.

25 September 2015

MELBOURNE FRINGE: Bock Kills Her Father

Bock Kills Her Father
20 September 2015
La Mama
to 27 September

Written by Adam JA Cass as part of his Masters in Playwriting at VCA Bock Kills Her Father is a frighteningly powerful exploration of the space between the pain and comfort of violence.

Stephanie Bock arrives in a small town to find the father she never met. When she meets three local young women, they take her to his house where his new girlfriend – younger than the women and probably as old as Bock's mum when she got pregnant – answers the door and says he's not home.

With a cast who never let the tension drop and hold onto their characters' secrets for as long as possible, allegiances change and it's easy to understand – if not support – why these women believe that violence and pain are the only choices.

MELBOURNE FRINGE: We May Have to Choose

We May Have To Choose
18 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Parlour Room
to 3 October

Another favourite.

Review in The Age/SMH.

24 September 2015

MELBOURNE FRINGE: Christopher Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Christopher Doesn't Live Here Anymore
18 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Parlour Room
EXTENDED until to 3 October

The great news is that the short season of Christopher Doesn't Live Here Anymore has been extended. It's that lovely!

My review is in The Age.

23 September 2015


Libbi Gore: Mummy Matters
20 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Lithuania Club
to 20 September 2015

Libbi Gore's Mummy Matters has some excellent advice about how to deals with mummies (who hasn't given a toddler chocolate and said "don't tell Mummy"), but it's more about how she survived the semi-super-tv-stardom of being Elle McFeast in the 1990s and found herself being remarkably normal with two kids in the suburbs.

And she's thrilled to be there. (And be on the radio.)

Libbi still has all of Elle's intelligence, wit & unashamed filth, but now there's no character to hide behind. I loved 90s Elle, but Libbi is welcoming and honest and much more fun to be with.

She talks about being a mum, dealing with Spanx, and being a Cinderella-Greer: us who were caught growing up with the image of a prince to save us but the understanding and anger that as women we should demand so much more.

And I loved being at a Fringe show with a room full of people my own age. I hope we see more of Libbi on our stages very soon.


19 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Son of Loft
to 25 September

Melbourne's Emily Taylor worked with primary school students to create the characters, opinions and ideas for Backwards.

In her show about understanding life backwards and living it forward, but ultimately about motherhood, she plays every character. This includes 8-year-old bffs Mia and Mia (pronounced differently) and their classmates; Maureen, Terry and their 30+ son who’s living with them at a retirement village; and a frustrated primary-school philosophy teacher.

Her character transitions are seamless and everyone is recognisable and unique in story that builds its stakes carefully and makes the most unexpected characters its heroes. The narrative could be developed, but this is a show about people and Taylor’s wonderful performance is unforgettable and the ending guarantees grins that hurt your jaw.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.

22 September 2015


The Last Great Hunt Presents: Fag/Stag
19 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Rehearsal Room
to 3 October

Fag/Stag is written and performed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs, from Perth company The Last Great Hunt, and is already one of the unmissable shows of this year's Fringe.

Corgan and Jimmy are best friends and tell the story of the weeks leading up to a wedding (of Corgan's ex and the only woman Jimmy kissed) from their own perspectives.

Its complex and authentic exploration of masculinity, male friendship, misogyny and internalised homophobia is at times debilitating and heartbreaking and still hilarious and heartwarming.

With remarkable performances and immaculate writing, it finds the deepest secrets and motivations of its characters and left me understanding a little bit more about young men and their friendships.

Here's Keith Gow's review on AussieTheatre.com.

MELBOURNE FRINGE: Gorilla, lovely Gorilla

Gorilla, lovely Gorilla
18 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Upstairs at Errol's
to 25 September

Michelle Nussey had me at "I like cats", but Gorilla, Lovely Gorilla isn't about cat ladies. Hussey works at the Melbourne Zoo and uses her experiences to reflect on how humans see animals.

My review is in The Age.


Dash and D'Bree: DEMO
18 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Upstairs at Errol's
to 25 September

I don't know how gen-Y Melbourne chicks Dash & D'Bree, didn't win Australia's Got Talent. Clearly Australia isn't ready for their amazingness, but they're finally out of retail and back in a cabaret about being fierce.

Being fierce is more than outfits made from animal print or Julie Bishop’s stare. Fierce is doing what your terrified of, knowing how to wear a huge cock, and being each other’s best selfies.

Dash and D’Bree (Hayley Butcher and Karina Mroz) is character comedy at it’s best. They find the heart and vulnerability in the ridiculously grotesque, and ensure that getting older doesn’t mean growing up.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.

Meanwhile, the have a web series.

21 September 2015

MELBOURNE FRINGE: All the Animals We Ate

All the Animals We Ate
19 September 2015
Fringe Hub, Rehearsal Room
to 24 September

Sean M Whelan. Photo by Caterina Fizzano

Sean M Whelan and James Tresise show is about animals, death and grief – my favourite topics.  All the Animals We Ate isn't yet there as a complete show, but it's on its way and I hope they develop it after this season. It's found its heart and is on the way to finding its story.

My review is in The Age.

Star ratings are strange things. Sometimes they say everything, but they don't always reflect the experience of a show.

And here's my favourite picture of my cat Flue who died in 2012.

20 September 2015

#MelbFringe on Twitter

It looks like I haven't seen #MelbFringe shows. I have. 11 this weekend. But multiple Fringe hats mean that this one has to go on last, but I am tweeting – @SometimesMelb – about everything I see.

And head to AussieTheatre (and every other site) for lots of Fringe reviews.

17 September 2015

Review: They Saw a Thylacine

They Saw a Thylacine
Human Animal Exchange
Malthouse Theatre
16 September 2015
Beckett Theatre
to October 4

Sarah Hamilton & Justine Campell. Photo by Pia Johnson

I saw They Saw a Thylacine at the 2013 Fringe, at its first show. It won Best of the Fringe (performance) and other awards because it was gorgeous and powerful and it's written is off-the-chart wonderful. The audience barely breathed in case they missed any of it.

The cage, skulls and glitter from the first  tiny-venue production are gone, but the new design and tighter script are perfect for the big stage. It's still everything that it was and more.

And I still have to believe that somewhere in the deep forests of Tasmania there are some thylacines who know that they must never be seen.

My review is here on The Age/SMH.

15 September 2015


15 September 2015
Club Voltaire
to 20 September

fractured  is a dystopian future where children think they're safe but know they aren't.

Adam J A  Cass's script about the named and the unnamed is furious about living in a country and world where children can't feel safe and are dying for the sake of political wins, fear and greed.

It's relevant and dark (and the bunker design uses the space brilliantly) but the direction, although equally passionate, feels forced and doesn't let the script speak for itself or give the audience the chance to see the truth before it’s told to them. Subtle can be stronger than intense.

11 September 2015

Interview: Dance of the Bees

Dance of the Bee
Arts House and Astra
11–13 September

Dance of the Bee is an interspecies musical collaboration performed by three pianists, the vocalists of the Astra Choir and a live swarm of bees.

The bees will be inside a transparent sculpted hive, and will sing and as a live video feed lets the audience see into the hive.

It opens tonight at Arts House Melbourne. I had a chat with pianist and composer Michael Kieran Harvey who says his work has become more esoteric, but angrier over the years.

Harvey was born in Sydney and studied at the Liszt Academy, Budapest. He’s won some of the most prestigious piano competitions in the world and continues to promote the works of Australian and contemporary composers.

He’s passion for music and his fellow artists is matched by his passion for science, philosophy and our environment. All of which flows into his love for our honey bees; whose world-wide reduction has to be stopped if humans are to even consider continuing on this planet.

Michael Kieran Harvey 

How do you describe this work to your friends? 
It’s not just a piano recital, but a way of collaborating with another species via the visionary expertise in music, science and apiary of Martin Friedel, with three of the most exciting and imaginative pianists working in Melbourne, Peter Dumsday, Joy Lee and Kim Bastin, and with the phenomenal Astra choir directed by John McCaughey.

A swarm of piano pieces written by the industrious denizens of the hive of Australian new music introduces the installation of the Bees’ Cathedral, where instead of nourishing honey, this time they will be manufacturing nourishing music, yet another gift to us humans, who in general treat them with hubris instead of gratitude and awe.

We need to take more care of these amazing creatures, and reject and transcend the philosophy of greed and competition that is wiping them out before it’s too late. For in wiping them out, we wipe ourselves out too, and Nature in turn will simply wipe her hands of us with relief.

In this show the human voice mixes with the pre-electronic symbol of bourgeois industrialism, the piano, to embrace and work with the bee, as they have with us for millennia.

What advice can you give to emerging artists about making their own work and finding their voice?
Do not believe the lie that it is necessary to be self-destructive to produce art. Make sure you have your own dwelling before you commit to the artistic life. Do whatever you can to cherish other people rather than use them. Be loyal, unfashionable though that is, because your older years will be very satisfying. As mine are!

Whose theatre or work inspires you?
Astra under the direction of John McCaughey. [The Astra choir are performing Dance of the Bee.]

Astra is like the beekeeper of Australian composition. For more than 60 years Astra has encouraged the very sweet nectar of Australian composition, with very little fanfare, funding and encouragement; just integrity, imagination, hard work and commitment.

I’m also in absolute awe of Martin Friedel [the Dance of the Bee composer], who not only is an Emmy-award winning composer, but also holds degrees in science and chemistry, and is currently attracting great interest worldwide for his scientifically researched method for surviving prostate cancer.

Who or what inspires you outside of theatre?
Who? Bob Brown of course. He is our greatest human. Currently I’m undertaking a PhD in composition with Richard Vella, who is visionary in his embracing of new science/arts interfaces. Family – my super-intelligent and gorgeous wife Arabella; my extraordinary parents, who still do outrageous and creative things; my three siblings, ditto; my two headstrong and amazing children; they’re all musicians! Shaun Micallef; his generic pianist and his André Rieu impressions are superlative, on a par with his Milo Kerrigan, the apogee of Aussie sport.

What? Science – especially the ramifications of the Large Hadron Collider and the aftermath of the Singularity. I'm hanging out for the unified theory; I'm so lucky to be alive.

Aubrey de Grey and the SENS institute freak me out (they’re researching immortality), as does the MIRI (Machine Intelligence) institute. And  my favourite writers are Dawkins, Dennett and AC Grayling, whom I've all met, I'm proud to say.

Tasmania for the still relatively cool climate, the inspiring wilderness areas and gobsmacking MONA [SM: I visited for the first time in June and am in complete love with the place]; they make it the best place to live in Australia.

Literature and philosophy: you are never without inspiration! Several of my compositions have been inspired by science fiction, including current projects The Green Brain (Frank Herbert) and a re-appropriation of an earlier ensemble work, Kazohinia (Sándor Szathmári), and also recent collaborative projects with Slave Pianos based on The Lepidopters (Mark von Schlegell).

Earlier science-based works such as my Toccata DNA, which gets played quite frequently around the world, are musical analogies for processes in the natural world. My first piano sonata had literary and socio-political themes: the Dutch cartoon debacle juxtaposed with the libertarian stance of Voltaire and the Marquis de Sade. My Psychosonata (piano sonata #2) is inspired by my association with psychiatrist Saxby Pridmore and alludes to Auerbach’s paintings and Brett Easton Ellis’s novels. My 48 Fugues For Frank, a homage to Zappa, is inspired by my work with yoga master/concrete poet Dr Arjun von Caemmerer – rock meets Avant-Garde meets the Enlightenment philosophy of Rameau, all crashing together.

Music has unlimited possibilities and is always an inspiring way to interpret the universe.

What was your first idea for this show?
As Martin Friedel writes: “Our age, the Anthroprocene Age started with the industrial revolution. The human population exploded, accompanied by an exponential demand for food and plant material. Huge tracts of temperate forest, grassland and wilderness have been destroyed and replaced by industrial-scale single crop cultivation. High yields are achieved using artificial fertilisers and an armoury of highly toxic pesticides and herbicides. Pollination of vast mono-cultures is achieved by huge numbers of bees, whole sole purpose is fixed to the transport of pollen from one plant to the next identical plant.

It is calculated that about one third of the food we consume requires bee pollination. Our very existence is increasingly dependent on the health of this remarkable little creature. But apis mellifera is now endangered. Artificial breeding has led to a diminished gene pool; Indiscriminate use of antibiotics has reduced resistance to infection. Lack of genetic flexibility, combined with neurotoxic pesticides and exotic parasites – spread by globalisation – have delivered mass death; as has colony collapse disorder (varyingly called spring dwindle, May disease, autumn disease etc) to hundred of thousands domestic and wild bee colonies throughout Europe and the US.”

Both Martin and I wanted to make a work involving our Astra colleagues that addressed this alarming situation, but offered a way of increasing empathy for the bee through music.

Did it make it into the final work?
Yes. The specific “music” of the hive and its various states of activity are reinterpreted by Friedel to create a truly interspecies feedback score, humans reacting to the insect sound, and vice-versa.

He says, “Unfamiliar sounds of the hive and the prepared piano combine with the more familiar sounds of the normal piano. The music traverses from sound structures connecting with image to more intense, virtuosic piano music; from semi-improvised to mathematically formal music – reflections on Gaia at work through the Dance of the Bee.”

What question(s) would you like your audience to ask themselves before, during and/or after your show?
We would like the audience to ponder: “What can we concerned humans do?”.

We need to be in awe of our friend and companion, the honey bee. We need to develop empathy and understanding which will lead to meaningful action. We must protect the honey bee from the consequences of our blind greed and must learn that we, the dominant species will only have a future, when other living things have a future. If we do not learn this lesson quickly, Gaia will casually sweep us into the fossil record and give our place to another species.

What show or whose work changed how you saw theatre?
Barry Humphries.

What made you laugh today? 
The government seeking to increase GST while the richest companies avoided paying their share of tax and the Commonwealth Bank posted its biggest profit. We are living in a Kafka novel.

How has your art making changed over the years? 
It’s become more esoteric, but angrier.

Have you ever been in an audience and walked out of a show before it finished? 
No, but I walked out of my own performance once.
I just got tremendously depressed at the world and the futility of my pathetic existence in the middle of the Arioso of the Hammerklavier and couldn’t go on. I was fine an hour later with a cup of tea and a cake though.

What makes you curious?
As Elliott Carter posited in his last opera: “What’s Next?”.

I’m curious as to why people donate their hard-earned cash to tobacco, alcohol and gambling corporations to receive in return the gifts of cancer and ruined lives. I’m very curious to see what happens after semiocapitalism; perhaps a golden era of cooperation?

What bores you? 
Neoconservatism in all its manifestations. Sport in all its manifestations. Corporatese. Career politicians. Australian politics.

What’s one thing you have you learned to accept?
That Ayn Rand’s philosophy is running the world and we are basically doomed as a species while that prevails.

What’s your suggestion for ensuring that audiences turn their phones off during shows?
Never believe that they have turned off their phones, it’s just like air travel. People used to talk, smoke, eat and drink and for all I know fornicate through concerts. So always play very loud and fast. Never play baroque repertoire on weak instruments or anything involving candles. Most festivals have realised this now. Soon they won’t even have to bother with the earplugs as everyone will be deaf.

This was on AussieTheatre.com

10 September 2015

Review: The Talk

The Talk
as part of Site is Set 2015
Field Theory & Mish Grigor
9 September 2015
a house in Brunswick
to 12 September

Mish Grigor's The Talk is an exploration of love and sex within her immediate family. But it's not  creepy. It's unexpectedly loving and generous and as funny, embarrassing, awkward, dangerous and brilliant as sex.

As part of Field Theory's Site is Set, a site responsive performance series, she's responded to a family living room with a work about how and why her family have talked about sex in their living room.

It starts in a stranger's living room, where there are cushions on the floor, a fire in the corner and a cat who let me pat him. Mish asks that we stand in for her family (as she says that her real family don't want to see this piece), and with warm Moet and chips, it's not hard to know what it's like to be a Grigor.

It's part verbatim interviews with members of the audience reading the parts of family members, but it's about Mish's response to the interviews, at the time and now. It's intimate and exposing for Mish – I'm still blushing from her lost condom story – but the more the talk is about sex, the less it becomes about sex and becomes about how talking about things we don't want to talk about can lead to the conversations we should have. It's about the kind of love that has nothing to do with sex. I think her family would really like it.

What's remarkable about this style of interactive performance is how the audience experience becomes personal. It often seems like the more a performer reveals about themselves, the more we're free to think about the similar experiences in our own lives. I don't think I've ever left a show thinking about how I talk about sex with my family before. Like the time my mum rang me at work (at work!) to tell me about how she'd broken a drought, the time my mum's friend asked me how you know if you're giving good head, and the time my father's ex told me that he gave her herpes (at his funeral).

Interview: A Drone Opera

A Drone Opera 
Arts House, Meat Market
10–13 September

A Drone Opera

A Drone Opera is a multimedia performance featuring drones and their pilots, opera singers, a laser light design and moving images. With custom drones – unmanned aerial vehicles (UVAs) – designed by artist , it explores the cultural and social impact of the rapidly developing technology.

It opens tonight at Arts House Melbourne. I had a chat with its creator Matthew Sleeth.

Australian artist Matthew Sleeth lives and works in Melbourne and New York. His conceptually driven work includes sculpture, photography, video and public installation is widely collected and been exhibited in Australia, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Cologne, Berlin, Venice. His large-scale sculptural installation The Rise and Fall of Western Civilization (and Other Obvious Metaphors) opened at Claire Oliver Gallery (New York) in December 2011, and in Melbourne, his work has been seen at the Melbourne International Arts Festival and was part of Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2013.

Matthew Sleeth

How do you describe your show to your friends?
It’s a cross between a dance work and an opera, except there are drones instead of dancers and the look and feel is cinematic, almost like a live movie.

Who or what inspires you outside of theatre?
Visual art and film. I am mainly a visual artist and film maker, this is my first live performance work. In terms of visual art, it’s hard to go past the conceptualists, especially early performance/video artists like Roman Signer.

What was your first idea for this show?
About three years ago, it started as a gallery project where I was going to use drones to paint two canvases at either end of the gallery during opening night.

Did it make it into the final work?
No, it turned out to be illegal.

What show or whose work changed how you saw theatre?
Quite a few dance works. Lucy Guerin’s Motion Picture was amazing [SM: I know! I loved that show] and I am interested in Anthony Hamilton’s use of machines and objects in performance. But mainly the people who have influenced my approach to live performance are my collaborators in this project, people I have wanted to work with for years like Kate Richards, Sue Frykberg, Robin Fox, Phil Samartzis, Shelley Lasica and Bosco Shaw.

What makes you curious?
Other artists. I am always amazed by my peers, especially the ones that find new languages for their works and move past the formula that made them initially successful.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.

07 September 2015

Review: Glory Box, La Revolucion

Glory Box: La Revolucion
Finicaine and Smith
Melba Speigeltent
to 13 September
facebook page

For those who live on my side of town, they are on at the Kinsgton City Hall at Moorabin
on Tuesday 1 October.

Moira Finucane. Glory Box: Viva La Revolution

Right now, it's easy to let the state of the world leave you feeling powerless and heartbroken. Throw in the Australian government and its response to pretty much everything and it's a wonder that anyone can get our of bed and manage a smile. But it's also not hard to look around and see that we're not alone; that millions and millions of people all over the world really do give a fuck and are doing what they can to get us back on track.

If you need something to make you feel better and be assured that many fucks are being given by wonderful people, get to Glory Box: La Revolucion.

It finishes this weekend.

I promise that this show will lift your heart and give your soul the sort of tongue pash that leaves you so happy that you will have the energy to keep going and the determination to make a difference.

Everything about this year's Glory Box is about making our world better. From the performance that was free for artists to inviting amazing young performers Natasha May, from Tennant Creek, and Yeshewambtat Maharete, a refugee from Ethiopia, to join the company.

And it all began with the glorious boxes being invited to Cuba. Glory Box is the FIRST Australian show to be invited to the Havana International Theatre Festival. I can't think of any other company who are better to represent Australia. Don't look at our government, look at our artists. This is the real Australia. Viva!

This is a show about acceptance, love and humanity. It's about being who you are, not giving a toss if anyone is different, and doing what you can to value every person's life. And it's sexy as all go get.

There's not much that I haven't said about the artistry and general brilliance and artistry of Moira Finucane and Jackie Smith's burlesque shows. They are magnificent, and each year I wonder if Glory Box can possibly get any better. This year has surpassed itself.

Saint Claire & Moira Finuaine

Along with the new young performers, Holly Durant and Lili Paskas continue to combine the weird with the exotic, Moira brings out the milk, and Azaria Universe puts the pearls on for Total Eclipse of the Heart (I've lost count of how many times I've seen her do this, but it will never be enough).

New to the team is circus wonder and strongwoman Rockie Stone with dazzling rope work and a balance-strip with a wine bottle that will pop the most stubborn and repressed of corks. And Melbourne's own velvet-voiced Mama Alto feels so at home that it's hard to imagine a show without Benny Dimas.

Which is all wonderful, but there's also the new stage coupling of Moira and Saint Claire. There's a number with tomato sauce and white dresses that's heart breaking, but then they sing Garbage's "#1 Crush" with Moira as a bare-breasted king in a black leather jacket with flames, tight jeans and Cuban heels and Claire as a goddess in a strapless black dress with matching flames. I don't think I've seen anything hotter. (And I've seen St Claire and Mikelangelo.)

The night finishes with Moira's "Coffee of No Regrets", a monologue that starts with Saint Claire and Mama Alto singing "Non, je ne regrette rien" and ends with the Speigeltent screaming yes to personal, intellectual and sexual freedoms and ensuring that "his cafe latte was not hot enough" is on its way to becoming the cry of artists, activists and rat bags all over the world.

Now, I'm off to #LightTheDark.

GLORY BOX LA REVOLUCION! TILL 13 SEPT | Melba Spiegeltent 35 Johnston St Collingwood | from Finucane & Smith on Vimeo.

04 September 2015

Review: Detroit

Red Stitch Actors Theatre
28 August 2015
Red Stitch
to 26 September

Sarah Sutherland. Detroit. Photo by Jodie Hutchinson

Detroit never says it's about Detroit. It's about suburbs where communities are falling apart and the hope of the hard-work way to an easy happy-ever-after is disintegrating in a world where the only real trickle down is insecurity and crisis. Directed by Tanya Dickson, the Red Stitch production keeps its feet in America but feels like it's made for the suburbs that many of us abandoned in our 20s and find ourselves heading back to in our 30s and 40s.

Writer Lisa D'Amour is from New Orleans, studied playwriting in Texas, and is also known for co-creating site-specific interdisciplinary works. Her play Detroit was first presented by Steppenwolf in Chicago in 2010 and on Off-Broadway in 2012. It was a Pulitzer finalist and won the Obie Award for Best New American play in 2013.

Ben (Brett Cousins) and Mary (Sarah Sutherland) had nice safe jobs, then Ben was laid off and is on his computer starting his own financial planning business. The house next door is a mirror image of theirs, except it's falling apart. It was also empty until Kenny (Paul Ashcroft) and Sharon (Ngaire Dawn Fair) move in and come over for a barbecue and talk about how they met in rehab and are trying to buy the house by working in a warehouse and a call centre. In a place where neighbours no longer talk to each other, everyone welcomes a convenient friendship that doesn't ask too many questions or notice just how broken their new friends are.

The tiny stage at Red Stitch isn't made for sprawling backyards and at first Matt Adey's set of two white dollhouse-esque houses and mini yards feels like it's being squished into the space. The the first scene ends and the white becomes a screen for images moving down the unchanging-but-constantly-changing suburban streets. This makes the mini houses defy the space and brings us into the hugeness and unexpected beauty of the suburbs, which some of us drove from to enjoy to the inner-city theatre.

The writing's bitterly funny and sprinkled with symbolism like a planters wart eating into the soul/sole of the community and touches of magical realism as the characters describe their dreams. The pitch-perfect performances revel in its comedy but are grounded in its gritty truth, and the direction finds an uncomfortable truth that's as much part of Melbourne as it is Detroit.

I wonder if I'd have laughed so much if I didn't live in Highett.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.