Naturally I kept a list of all the shows I saw and below I present my top ten of 2017. If I reviewed the show then a link to the review is also provided.
2018 is shaping out to be the time of innovative and exciting theatre, so make sure you go and see some of it. While it's nice to make a night out of seeing some big name performers and shows, remember to also support your independent theatre makers and venues where some shows can cost you as little as $15 per person.
Here is my list:
|Grant Cartwright and Dushan Philips. Photo Credit: Sarah Walker|
Abrahams brings together a remarkably talented ensemble of actors to tell this story, which despite being set in the American 80s still has extreme relevance and prevalence today regarding social stigma of homosexuality and AIDS.
Some of the strongest performances of the year were present here including those from Simon Cornfield, Grant Cartwright, Emily Goddard, Helen Morse and Dushan Philips, with the evocative sound and lighting providing greater insight into the minds and thoughts of the various characters.
Also, can't not mention how amazing that wooden four-poster bed was by how it was utilised and what it represented during the show. If there were an award for best use of a single prop, this would be the winner.
Put simply, Angels In America was gripping, powerful and affecting theatre at its best.
|Janine Watson and Catherine Davies. Photo Credit: Pia Johnson|
*Can't wait to see their take on The Nightingale and the Rose at Theatre Works in June 2018 and to see what Nicolazzo does with Abigail's Party at MTC in August 2018.*
3. Cactus and the Mime
|Roby Favretto and Caitlin Spears|
Roby Favretto and Caitlin Spears have crafted a unique show where despite the big smiling faces, adorable costumes and the stage decorated with brightly coloured props, there are still glimpses of something darker at play.
Favretto and Spears never compromise the integrity of the narrative or their characters for the sake of a laugh, with each joke going further into exposing their personalities or what they love/hate about the other person. Hearts are broken and lives are irrevocably damaged in this original and captivating show that dares to take risks and reaps all the awards because of it.
*Cactus and The Mime will be performing at Perth Fringe World in February 2018.*
4. Monkey See, Monkey Do
|Richard Gadd. Photo Credit: Mat Brooks|
Gadd uses his own personal experience with assault as an opening for a wider conversation on mental health and masculinity.
When that monkey appears in your life, it is bloody hard work to escape it, and this is something that Gadd seems to have succeeded in doing. Monkey See, Monkey Do is an unflinchingly honest yet entertaining show that encourages people, women and men, to talk about their feelings.
|Joel Bray. Photo Credit: Pippa Samaya|
Joel Bray's site-specific show, Biladurang, is an intimate and beautiful look at identity through movement and story. Set inside the Sofitel hotel, this show for 12 people has Bray exploring his homosexuality and his Indigenous heritage.
The hotel room is used to its full capacity, from the outside red tower-light that shines through the window onto the wall, the views looking out into the Yarra and selected personal items that lay scattered throughout the room. The audio and visual elements throughout the performance are just as thought out and used exceptionally well, particularly during the moments of Bray taking a bath.
Biladurang is a flawless example of the effect that theatre can have on people and the community that can be created because of it.
|Gravity & Other Myths|
Backbone is an extraordinary accomplishment that takes circus beyond the concept of just tricks and acrobatics.
*Gravity & Other Myths return to Arts Centre Melbourne with A Simple Space in January 2018, and you can read my interview with performer Jascha Boyce here.*
|Mari Ando, Izumi Aoyagi & Yo Yoshida. Photo Credit: Bryony Jackson|
8. The Basement Tapes
|Stella Reid. Photo Credit: Maxwell Gutterman|
Premiering at the New Zealand Fringe Festival this year, The Basement Tapes follows a girl who tends to her recently deceased Grandmother's house and begins to clean out her basement. She discovers a tape recorder with a series of recording made by her grandmother that leads to her questioning what she has come to know to be true.
Stella Reid gives a strong and focused performance as she gradually discovers that things are not what they appear to be. Aided by some exceptional lighting and sound design, the intensity begins to build and the story really burrows its way into your mind and then begins to play tricks on you in a truly terrifying theatrical experience. There were moments where I genuinely thought I was seeing things that were not possible because of how this story sinks its teeth into you.
Hopefully this team make it back to Melbourne in the future, as I would love to see what they come up with next.
|Photo Credit: Marc Coudrais|
Ingarsten's work considers the pleasure - and the pain - the body can provide and the difficulty in being able to enjoy one's own body when faced with constriction and conflict. The set design is simple and familiar, with a living room consisting of a few chairs, a table, coffee table and a pot plant. Its familiarity is what sets you at ease...except for the giant sculpture of naked bodies forming in a back corner that slowly begin to move.
7 Pleasures is a highly intimate work that acknowledges the sexual joy the body is capable of providing. However, the pleasure that it refers to is more from the self-discovery and the surprises that our own bodies can give us if we are brave enough to go exploring.
10. All The Sex I've Ever Had
|Photo Credit: Jim Lee|
To speak of the adventures and tribulations shared would be to break the pledge of not gossiping about what's discussed that we take before the show begins. However, this is more than just titillating stories of sexual escapades, and while sex - and all its manifestations - plays a big part in each of these people's lives, All The Sex I've Ever Heard is an opportunity for those over 65 to be heard - really heard - and for their sex lives and sexuality to be as respected as younger generations' are and not be mocked or ridiculed.
After traversing 80 years of highs and lows of these people's lives, we exited to the foyer where each cast member had personal items on display that provided us with a further understanding of who they were. It was a fitting way to end a heart-warming evening of human connection that crossed genders, sexualities and age.
And just because rules were made to be broken, here are the shows that were pipped at the post: