Monday, 11 December 1995

The Best of 1995: Theatre


The Best of 1995: Theatre
Kate Herbert Dec 11, 1995
Published in The Melbourne Times, December 1995

The beauty of non-mainstream theatre in Melbourne is that it does what mainstream does not. Much of our best is new work. It is always visually exciting, physical and somehow luscious and sensual. 

Al Andalus Hildegarde celebrated a Jewish-Arabic community in mediaeval Spain with erotic flamenco-inspired movement, exotic jewel-coloured design and mesmerising a' capella song.

Jump! devised by the wonderful women of  Crying in Public Places, also integrates unaccompanied songs. It is cheeky, warm and adorable and relies on the physicality of its performers. They jump literally and metaphorically, telling with ease and passion, charming, funny and moving stories from their lives.

In Stephen Berkoff's Decadence Alison Whyte and Rhyss Muldoon were sexy, lewd, savage and provocative. Their comic timing in this dense verse text was faultless.

Sarah Cathcart with her chameleon-like solo performance, Tiger Country,  has successfully made the shift from fringe to mainstage. Her whimsical, wry characters and physical transformations are mesmerising.

The Melbourne Theatre Company has my award for best damn batch of shows.  Hamlet, directed by the inimitable Neil Armfield, had a powerful vision of Elsinore as a totalitarian regime. An impeccable cast was lead by a compelling Richard Roxborough with his subtle and dynamic portrayal of the Prince.

Simon Phillips production of Tom Stoppard's perfectly crafted script,
Arcadia was moving, passionate analytical, inspiring the audience to think, judge and feel.
Scenes from a Separation,( MTC) was seamlessly directed by Robin Nevin with an achingly hilarious and anguished script Andrew Bovell and Hannie Rayson.

From Britain, we were privileged to witness Stephen Daldry's production of
An Inspector Calls with its inspired staging and design, humanist commentary and exceptional performances of a family facing its crumbling world under a drenched sky.

The Three Lives of Lucy Cabrol  (Theatre de Complicite') was a profoundly evocative, poignant and lyrical epic tale of love and death, which pulsated with energy, skill and vision. It reeked of passion, and metaphorical imagery.

KATE HERBERT