Sunday 9 June 2024

Julia review

12 years ago, Julia Gillard delivered a speech that was voted as the most unforgettable moment of Australian TV history by Guardian readers. The "misogyny speech" was a heart pounding 15-minute parliamentary address by Australia's first and only female Prime Minister. In Julia, playwright Joanna Murray-Smith entrancingly brings to the stage pockets of the former Prime Minister's life, from when she was an 8-year-old child to her formative years and her ultimate ascension as Prime Minister of Australia while centering on this world famous speech.

Murray-Smith has done an exceptional job in not only showcasing these specific episodes of Gillard's life, but putting them together where the narrative can flow and build organically. While these may be stories that we know - like the barren fruit bowl and the infamous outcome of her professional relationship with Kevin Rudd - hearing them here, together, you begin to comprehend the enormity of abuse and harassment Gillard faced during her term as Prime Minister.

Tuesday 4 June 2024

Ghosts review

In Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, a family tries to move forward after the death of its patriarch, but there are secrets and scandals, that unlike the recently deceased, will not stay buried for long. This recent adaptation by writer Jodi Gallagher adds an Australian atmosphere to the proceedings allowing the drama unfolding to feel more urgent and sordid.

The design elements all support this Australian environment particularly with Steven Mitchell Wright's set design, with events taking place within the skeleton of a two-storey house that still manages to symbolise wealth and privilege. It is utilised well by Wright, who also serves as director, in the way the characters interact with it, climbing through it, peering through windows and even standing on its roof. Ben Hughes' subdued lighting and Leahannah Ceff's hypnotic composition and sound provide highly successful methods in drawing us into the narrative.

Saturday 1 June 2024

Multiple Bad Things review

In Back to Back's new work, Multiple Bad Things, three employees in a warehouse spend their day putting together an ambiguous structure. As they complete this task, they take part in conversations and present behaviours focusing on inclusion, equity and diversity.

As you walk into the theatre, you are instantly captivated by Anna Cordingley's set design. Erected like a triptych, a computer workstation is positioned on one side, with numerous animal figurines decorating the entire desk. On the other side rests an inflatable flamingo float. In between the two are a variety of gold-coloured pipes and tubes in a half-finished construction that dominates the stage. Cordingley's aesthetic skill extends to the costuming of the cast, with Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring and Scott Price appearing in distinctive orange uniforms and Bron Batten dressed in pink, looking like she's just stepped out of a Barbie movie.