Melbourne Theatre Company have announced their 2018 season – and the biggest news, for our money, is the Australian premiere of the National Theatre’s blockbuster production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – winner of seven Olivier Awards in 2013 and five Tony awards in 2015 (for the Broadway transfer), and directed by Marianne Elliott, who also helmed National Theatre’s production of War Horse (which stole Melbourne’s heart in 2012).
Adapted by award-winning British playwright Simon Stephens from Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel, the hi-tech production brings to stage one of the most compelling literary protagonists of the noughties: 15-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone, a self-described “mathematician with some behavioural difficulties" whose unusual way of looking at the world makes him particularly well-suited to solving the mystery of who murdered his neighbour’s dog.
Time Out London described the production as “a thing of unbridled wonder”; Time Out New York says it’s a “wrenching but exhilarating night”. Make up your own mind when it opens in January 2018 at Arts Centre Melbourne.
A close runner-up for theatre-lovers is the news that Academy Award-winner Geoffrey Rush will return to stage – playing Malvolio in Simon Phillips’ production of Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identities and unrequited love, Twelfth Night (opening in November 2018).
These two shows bookend a season that is pretty heavy on big names in new wave British and American writing, including Brits Simon Stephens (who wrote Birdland, a major success of MTC’s 2015 season – and a 5-star favourite of ours), Lucy Kirkwood (with intimate baby boomer drama The Children) and Mike Bartlett (who wrote Cock, at MTC in 2014, returning with his Edward Snowden take, Wild); and Americans Lucas Hnath (whose Broadway hit A Doll’s House, Part 2 is coming to MTC, starring Marta Dusseldorp) and Pulitzer Prize nominee Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (whose 2015 satire on contemporary office politics, Gloria, will get its Australian premiere).
New Australian writing is the other obvious focus, with the season spanning from emerging writers Jean Tong (taking the Education Season spot with her play Hungry Ghosts) and Albert Belz (Astroman), to veteran Patricia Cornelius (adapting Lorca’s House of Bernarda Alba), via mid-career artists Aidan Fennessy (The Architect) and Nicola Gunn (in the Studio Season spot, with a dance theatre work called Working with Children).
If you like your theatre classic, comic and full of distilled wit, Dean Bryant is taking on Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, with a cast that includes Gina Riley, William McInnes, Simon Gleeson, Brent Hill, Michelle Lim Davidson, Zindzi Okenyo and Christie Whelan Browne.
Subscriptions for MTC’s 2018 season are on sale now. Single tickets for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time go on sale on Monday November 13.