Classic to Queer, wet to wild, Audrey picks its seven must-sees for the shortest month.
Strangers in Between
The Age’s Cameron Woodhead awarded this new production of Tommy Murphy’s breakthrough play a four-star rating for its “compelling blend of angst and adrenalin, naivety and charm.” I love the description (actually, Cameron, I envy you for it) of actor Simon Burke as “a gay Obi-Wan Kenobi, who’s gently haunted by the ghost of his own salad days.” Feel the Force.
More? Read Tommy’s beautiful essay on the piece here.
In British playwright Caryl Churchill’s tour de force, Marlene (played in this Sydney Theatre Company production by Helen Thomson, leading a monster of a cast), the managing director of an employment agency, throws a dinner party. Invited are her feminist heroines from history and fiction: Isabella Bird, the doughty Victorian adventurer; Dull Gret, the hell-charging star of a Breughel painting; Lady Nijo, the 13th-century Japanese concubine and nun; the harshly tested Griselda, whose trials were described by Chaucer, and the transvestite – and quite possibly apocryphal – Pope Joan.
Expect Churchill’s message to sound clearly in this Imara Savage-directed production: without a root-to-tip re-organisation of the world of work, women will always be forced to make choices that men in the same position can evade or ignore.
Another likely Mardi Gras highlight, this one a UK import from Britain’s Milk Presents. Champion drag king Lucy Parkinson reboots the image of the fearless 15th century seer, warrior and heretic.
“Parkinson morphs before your eyes so cleverly that sorcery might be involved,” wrote the Guardian’s Lyn Gardner. “Almost 600 years after Joan was burned, there is still a great deal at stake for those who don’t fit the gender binary and who must fight daily to be accepted for who they are without fear of witch-hunts.”
It’s a short, short season. Get to it.
Audrey doesn’t get to much opera but the Sydney premiere of Barrie Kosky’s Royal Opera House-Komische Oper production of The Nose is pretty difficult to resist, er … picking.
Conducted by Andrea Molino, who usually directs Shostakovich’s score from memory, this eye-popping Pythonesque production (“terrifically realised, brilliantly inventive and highly entertaining,” according to the UK’s The Spectator) comes complete with its starry London leads – Martin Winkler, Sir John Tomlinson and Alexander Lewis.
The stairwells, corridors and nooks of the rambling Kings Cross Hotel become the passageways and sick rooms of a mysterious hospital in this immersive, non-linear promenade performance created by John Harrison, Constantine Costi and Michael Costi, and featuring a cast of more than 20 actors including Arisa Yura, Elijah Williams and Richard Hilliar.
Could get creepy (“old hospital filled with ghosts of the past” gets me every time) but hey, in this venue you’re never far away from a glass of something medicinal.
Indie powerhouse Apocalypse Theatre had a crack at Mary Zimmerman’s Tony Award-winning Broadway hit back in 2012 at PACT. It was pretty good if memory serves but this time around, things are going to be wetter, naked-er and wa-aaay more intense.
Drawing on the poetry of Ovid, Metamorphoses refashions some well-known stories (of Midas, of Orpheus and Eurydice) and some more obscure (the cautionary tale of Eryichthon, who chops down a tree beloved of the goddess Ceres) into a moving sequence of vignettes which will, in the words of Apocalypse, “celebrate the primal body and the staying power of love and desire in the face of constant and inevitable change.”
The View Upstairs
Mamma Mia is the big noise in musical theatre this month but, frankly, that show hurts my brain.
Instead, I’m pinning my hopes on this, the Australian premiere of Max Vernon’s Off-Broadway hit recreating the vibrant gay underground of 1970s New Orleans and remembering a terrible yet largely forgotten hate crime. Vernon tells the story through the eyes of Wes (played by Henry Brett), a young designer who buys up a derelict, fire-damaged building with no idea of what it once was.
Shaun Rennie directs, with Stephen Madsen (straight out of Muriel’s Wedding the Musical), Thomas Campbell and Anthony Harkin among the cast.