Playwright John O’Donovan’s first full-length play is set in the small Irish town of Ennis (where he grew up) in the wake of the 2015 constitutional referendum that validated same-sex marriage. It follows two young gay men in love, and the prospect of a marriage between two men hangs over much of the action. But this isn’t a play about marriage equality. Instead, it’s about the knottier stuff of gay lives in certain corners of the world, and the kind of people who’ll never be the poster boys for the progressive cause. Mikey (Eddie Orton) and Casey (Elijah Williams) are stuck on the rooftop of a house. They’ve just robbed a petrol station and found a significant stash of cocaine that’ll power much of their conversation for the next 90 minutes. The police aren’t far off, and while Mikey and Casey could wait them out and come down the next morning, it’s getting cold on that roof and they’re meant to be attending a party together. So they’re stuck, and we’re stuck with them. At least they’ve got each other – and their cocaine – to keep them warm. There’s no violence on stage, but there’s plenty of it described in O’Donovan’s full-throttle, finely observed script. Orton’s Mikey moves like an animal who’s been backed into a corner and has just one instinct – to explode, fight back and cause maximum damage – and the only real question is exactly when he’ll be tipped over the edge. He’s not totally comfortable around the hyper-masculine and quietly homophobic people he grew up
This is a review from the 2019 Melbourne season of The Butch Monologues at Midsumma Festival. One of the defining features of this year’s Midsumma Festival is its total commitment to the idea of diversity; that multiverse of identities making up the alphabet soup that is the LGBTQIA community. This has seen a really sophisticated engagement with issues around gender, around intersectionality, around the very future of queerness. Of course, you don’t get a future without having a past, and a new verbatim theatre show out of the UK, The Butch Monologues, gives us a salutary reminder that the struggles with binary gender identity have deep roots. They could even been seen as the baseline of the queer experience. Writer Laura Bridgeman and director Julie McNamara have collated stories from “Butches, Transmen and Gender Rebels from across the world”, by which they mean the US, the UK and the Caribbean. While it would have been nice to have some Australian stories in the mix, we still get plenty of local flavour – most of the readers who perform these monologues are locals who speak in their own accents, and bring their own inflections. It gives the work a truly collegiate feel, a sense of a global community in action. The storytellers vary in age, but we get a fantastic range of older voices to coexist with the younger perspectives; this is a show that subtly but powerfully champions the pioneers of gender who put their own bodies on the line before gender fluidity was even a co
The Yorkshire moors are often described as a desolate (think ‘wiley, windy’) place, and they hold a certain reputation in the literary imagination as a setting for gothic romance. The Brontë sisters grew up on the moorlands, and their Romantic literary outputs capture that dark, wild feeling of isolation, obsession and early feminist ideation over and over again. The Moors, a new play by American writer Jen Silverman, takes every trope in the Brontë handbook and queers it – collating their lonely estates and governesses and attic prisoners and shocking romances, and remixing them into an arch, surrealist play about love and anger and obsession. And also a talking dog. Emilie (Brielle Flynn) has been summoned to work as a governess in an isolated Moorland home, seduced by the hand of the head of the household, Bramwell. However, his sister Agatha (Romy Bartz), clearly in control of the home, won’t let her meet him. The other sister, Huldey (Enya Daley), dreams of fame and sadness, and confides in her diary. The maid seems to be the same person (Diana Popovska), and all the rooms seem to be same, and Emilie is told that life is different here, on the moors. As she becomes consumed by the world of the sisters and their schemes, the family dog (Thomas Campbell) falls in love with an injured moorhen (Alex Francis). The script is lively and camp even when it comments on queer desire and unhealthy possession, female oppression and rage, and is written to be sharp and blackly c
Eight years before The Sapphires became a hit 2012 film starring Jessica Mauboy, it was a hugely popular play, telling the story of a group of Yorta Yorta women who form a girl group and travel to Vietnam in 1968 to perform soul classics for the troops. The play was penned by Tony Briggs, who based the story on the real-life story of his own mother, who performed as part of such a group. Now Briggs is returning to direct a new production of the play which will travel to more than 140 locations on an extensive national tour. The cast includes Ngaire Pigram (who was part of the 2011 London season of The Sapphires), Mindy Kwanten, Matilda Brown and Lorinda Merrypor. The production is stopping into Sydney with seasons at the Casula Powerhouse in February, Sutherland Entertainment Centre in March, and Riverside Theatres in Parramatta in September.
Anchuli Felicia King is an emerging playwright with a huge year ahead: she's got a play in Melbourne Theatre Company’s mainstage season, as well as one at STC. And before it premieres at STC, this play will have a season at one of London’s prestigious Royal Court. White Pearl is set in the offices of Clearday cosmetics, a Singapore company that’s come under fire for a racist ad. The play is a co-production with the National Theatre of Parramatta, and directed by Priscilla Jackman.
Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood are the brains (and voices) behind the brilliant Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin and the musical comedy troupe Lady Sings It Better. Now, sick of being referred to as “buxom” and “appropriately curvaceous” (appropriate for what?) in reviews, they’re reclaiming the power of Broadway for the less skinny leading ladies among us. With songs from Chicago, Calamity Jane, Frozen, Sideshow, A Chorus Line, Wicked and Cats to name a few, expect plenty of the pair’s wicked wit as well as a hefty dose of feminist outrage. It’s part of Darlinghurst Theatre Company's inaugural Comedy Fest.
This rocking play with music was a big hit when it premiered at Belvoir at the end of 2017 (read our four-star review of that initial season below), so it was a no-brainer to bring it back to be seen by an even bigger audience in 2019. Belvoir will again be transformed into a sticky pub and Ursula Yovich and Elaine Crombie will reprise their roles. The Australian theatrical canon sometimes feels like we've run the national identity through Instagram; we put the filtered, carefully curated version of ourselves on display, keeping our mess neatly cropped out of frame. But Barbara and the Camp Dogs, Ursula Yovich and Alana Valentine’s devastating new musical, rips away the strategically placed curtain of performative Australian identity to reckon with the country's true nature: an open wound, raw and angry-red. Still weeping. Barbara (Yovich) is ferocious. A pub singer with a quick wit, healthy sexual appetite and unceasing reserves of anger, she performs with her sister René (Kiki and Kitty's Elaine Crombie) and their band the Camp Dogs. Gigs can be hard to come by in the Sydney of today, the one where the few live music venues left are curfewed by lockout laws. They don’t make much money, which is suddenly an unignorable problem: their mother Jill is dying, and they need to pull together funds for a trip to Katherine to say goodbye. Barbara doesn’t want to go. She loves Jill, the woman who raised Barbara when her own mother couldn’t, but Katherine has come to represent her