It’s been more than two years since it was first announced, but Fun Home – the celebrated stage adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel – is finally coming to Melbourne. The Tony Award-winning show (which details Bechdel’s youth growing up in rural America, her complicated relationship with her father and the discovery of her sexuality) is one of the jewels in Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2022 season, which is dotted with new Australian works, adaptations and international hits.
Melbourne Theatre Company: Season 2022
Touching the Void (Jan 17-Feb 19)
Adapted for the stage by David Grieg
Director: Petra Kalive
Leading the charge into what is hopefully a brighter year for theatre is Touching the Void, an exhilarating true story based on the memoir by Joe Simpson. Starring Lucy Durack (Wicked), Joe Klocek (The Dry) and Karl Richmond (The Lifespan of a Fact), the performance takes you to the heart of the Peruvian Andes, where Sarah is searching for answers after her brother was lost while scaling Siula Grande. She teams up with her brother’s climbing partner, Simon, and their base camp manager, Richarch, to retrace her brother’s journey – all the while unconvinced if he has really died.
Fun Home (Feb 7-Mar 5)
Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel
Director: Dean Bryant
Yes, finally (FINALLY) Fun Home wings its way to Melbourne in February 2022 after a hit season in Sydney (in 2019, we might add). The autobiographical musical flits between the past and present; Alison, a queer cartoonist, reminisces about her childhood playing in her family’s funeral home, the discovery of her sexuality, as well as the hidden desires of her funeral director father. Co-produced by Sydney Theatre Company and starring Lucy Maunder (Ladies in Black), Emily Havea (Wentworth), Adam Murphy (Shakespeare in Love) and Euan Doidge (Pippin), it’s a bright and original production that our reviewer in Sydney called “a spectacular, life-affirming and tragic masterpiece”.
Admissions (Mar 5-Apr 9)
By Joshua Harmon
Director: Gary Abrahams
Kat Stewart (Heisenberg) and William McKenna (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) team up in this satire shining a stark light on privilege and power in the education system. The award-winning play is as funny as it is sharp; Sherri Rosen-Mason is the head of admissions at an exclusive high school, while her husband is the principal. And both of them are committed to increasing diversity under their stewardship. But when their son’s application to Yale is deferred, the couple find their convictions tested: how far are they willing to go to affect change in the world?
Slap. Bang. Kiss. (Apr 19-30)
By Dan Giovannoni
Director: Prue Clark
This new play about three revolutionary events happening around the world – a 16-year-old girl slaps a soldier, a teenager makes a fiery speech honouring school shooting victims, and two boys lock lips to break a world record – fills MTC’s families and education slot for 2020.
The Heartbreak Choir (Apr 25-May 28)
By Aidan Fennessy
Director: Peter Houghton
Did you enjoy MTC’s bittersweet hit The Architect in 2018? Writer Aidan Fennessy returns with new work The Heartbreak Choir, another celebratory and uplifting story filled with song. Five choral singers, Totty, Aseni, Barbara, Mack and Savannah (plus newcomer Peter) have split off from their choir to form their own group. As they practise in their local CFA hall and with their first performance booked, things seem to be looking up for the new choir – all that's left is to correct past mistakes.
The Sound Inside (May 20-Jul 2)
By Adam Rapp
Director: Sarah Goodes
For those who prefer their theatre cerebral, The Sound Inside might just be the ticket. Playwright Adam Rapp has crafted a literary mystery that is bound to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Professor and author Bella Baird appears dreary and reserved but lives vividly in a verbose mind filled with literature. She appears to have met her intellectual match in freshman student Christopher Dunn, however, with the two soon forming a friendship. Directed by Sarah Goodes (Home, I’m Darling) and starring Catherine McClements (Three Little Words), The Sound Inside is expected to be a mesmerizing production.
Come Rain or Come Shine (Jun 20-Jul 23)
By Carolyn Burns, Tim Finn and Simon Phillips
Director: Simon Phillips
Based on the comedic short story by acclaimed author Kazuo Ishiguro, Come Rain or Come Shine explores memory, music and the relationships between three lifelong friends. Charlie, Ray and Emily have been together since university, with Ray and Emily bonding over their shared love of music before Emily fell in love with Ray’s roommate Charlie. Years later Emily has married Charlie, but when Ray visits the couple Charlie puts a request to him that brings up past feelings. Come Rain or Come Shine is by the same team behind Ladies in Black, with the book by Carolyn Burns and music and lyrics from Tim Finn and Simon Phillips (the latter also directs).
Laurinda (Aug 6-Sep 10)
By Diana Nguyen
Director: Petra Kalive
One of the works we’re most excited about at MTC in 2022 is Laurinda, an adaptation of Alice Pung’s novel by comedian Diana Nguyen. Almost like a version of Mean Girls for modern-day, multicultural Australia, Laurinda is a refreshing new work that follows 15-year-old Lucy Lam, who’s just won the first-ever Equal Access Scholarship to an elite high school. Switching schools (something author Pung did several times growing up) reveals a strange new world of wealth and power to Lucy, who is soon made to choose between fitting in and being true to herself when the school’s most influential girls ('The Cabinets') take note of Lucy. The work is underpinned by a strong cast featuring Fiona Choi (Torch the Place), Chi Nguyen (The Wilds), Jillian Nguyen (Hungry Ghosts), Ngoc Phan (Boy Swallows Universe) and Jenny Zhou (Girl, Interpreted).
Cyrano (Sep 24-Oct 29)
By Virginia Gay
Director: Sarah Goodes
Cancelled before it could even put on its first show in 2021, the Virginia Gay-starring, gender-swapped version of Cyrano de Bergerac is getting its time in the limelight in 2022. In Cyrano, the titular character is played by Gay herself and is an enigmatic and enchanting wordsmith who falls for Roxanne. True love’s course is made all the bumpier by Roxanne’s attraction to Yan – who despite being less than erudite, somehow starts saying the most beautiful things to her (in reality, the words are Cyrano’s). MTC artistic director Brett Sheehy described Gay’s Cyrano as “an absolutely joyous night in the theatre” with music interwoven throughout the production.
Girls & Boys (Oct 21-Nov 26)
By Dennis Kelly
Director: Kate Champion
Home, I’m Darling’s Nikki Shiels will delight and then surprise audiences in this one-woman show that’s got people talking in London and New York. It’s the same old story; girl meets boy, they fall in love, get married and start a family. It’s a story many will relate or even aspire to – until a shocking twist that upends the white picket fence façade. This is a powerful work from Dennis Kelly (Matilda: the Musical) that is going to stick with you long after the curtain drops.
Sunshine Super Girl (Nov 9-Dec 14)
By Andrea James
Director: Andrea James
The remarkable, incredibly talented Wiradjuri athlete Evonne Goolagong Cawley is celebrated in this uplifting work from Andrea James. From hitting a tennis ball against a shed with an improvised racket to becoming the world number one, the story of Evonne Goolagong Cawley comes to Melbourne after lauded seasons interstate. Sumner Theatre will be transformed into a tennis court for the production, with seating arranged to mimic that of Wimbledon as the show has audiences reflect on our collective future and how we can all support the next “Goolagong”. Sunshine Super Girl feels like the perfect story to round out the 2022 season.
Subscription packages are available now. Individual tickets for Touching the Void, Fun Home, Admissions and The Heartbreak Choir are available December 2, with tickets for The Sound Inside, Come Rain or Come Shine, Laurinda, Cyrano, Girls & Boys, Sunshine Super Girl and SLAP. BANG. KISS. available March 22.