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Arts Reviews

Posted 5 Feb 2017 @ 6:56pm

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Following sell-out success and almost universal acclaim with runs on Broadway and London's West End – one of the most successful new musicals of the 21st century has finally made its way to Melbourne in its Australian premiere. But can The Book of Mormon live up to the immense hype that surrounded it in the lead-up? With one hand on the bible, the answer is a resounding...

Posted 30 Jan 2017 @ 11:00am

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Melbourne Theatre Company returns for 2017 with a jam-packed season, kicking things off with Born Yesterday a '40s classic that rings particularly true today.
 
A fascinating portrayal of Washington corruption, political power-plays and the vulnerable reality of own flawed democracy, the production offers a compelling take on the current state of US politics...

Posted 25 Jan 2017 @ 1:03pm

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As expected, opening night of Cirque Du Soleil’s KOOZA saw a full (and star-studded) house take their seats inside the trademark blue-and-yellow Big Top currently located at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse. Returning to its origins, the world-renowned French-Canadian company served up the intimacy of a smaller circus reliant on nothing more than incredible acrobatic...

Posted 7 Dec 2016 @ 4:57pm

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Pandering can be a difficult art. It’s inherently cheap, but often an irresistible ploy. Hannibal Buress sometimes opened the US stops of his ‘Hannibal Montanabal’ tour by doing the opposite: playing footage of Chicago teams destroying the hometown teams of the respective tour leg before taking the stage. But tonight in Melbourne, support DJ Tony Trimm did pander, playing...

Posted 22 Nov 2016 @ 2:48pm

Forty years and Melbourne has become a vista of vanguard progressions. A multicultural boom led to the re-enlivenment of a city which had stagnated ­– the CBD became a hoard of enthusiasm and vivaciousness. In the same time frame, esteemed Melbourne community radio broadcaster 3RRR has established itself as not just a cultural lifeblood but a divergent conversational retreat.
 
As...

Posted 19 Oct 2016 @ 12:20pm

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For those nostalgic for the quirky caricatures of the old comic book style animation that had seemingly disappeared with the arrival of CGI and massive success of Pixar, the 2003 release of Sylvain Chomet’s 2D animated comedy The Triplets of Belleville was a breath of fresh air. A co-production between companies in France, the UK, Belgium and Canada, the film tells the...

Posted 14 Oct 2016 @ 12:40pm

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The vast expanse of the Merlyn Theatre, peppered with guitars, a drum kit, metallic barrels and cardboard cut outs around the periphery of the stage, greets the audience on opening night of Two Dogs, roundly regarded as one of the most popular current works in China and brought to the Malthouse as part of the Melbourne Festival. We’re forewarned: this piece will be...

Posted 14 Oct 2016 @ 11:18am

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Earmarked as one of the festival highlights, Ancient Rain brings together a pseudo-god of Australian songwriting in Paul Kelly, with internationally renowned singer and storyteller Camille O’Sullivan, re-telling and imagining the works of some of Ireland’s most well-known and loved poets, set to music. Add to the mix the beautiful compositions of Irish pianist and O’...

Posted 11 Oct 2016 @ 1:33pm

★★★ 

 

Eight "benefactors" sit around a big wooden table in the Prahran Council Chambers while the rest of us – the silent witnesses – watch on from the gallery. There is an ominous knock on the Chambers’ door. A hefty secure briefcase is delivered to the facilitator. As stern as a prison guard, she lays out the contract, the props, the rules, and, of course, the cash. Welcome to...

Posted 10 Oct 2016 @ 9:16am

★★★★

 

Despite the absence of red noses or any other circus trope, Triptyque is no less a spectacle. Canadian outfit Les 7 Doigts (The Seven Fingers) has worked with choreographers for each of Triptyque’s three acts to infuse circus with dance and nudge both disciplines right to the edge.
 
The first act, Anne and Samuel, starts with performer Sarah Harton tied up and...

Posted 28 Sep 2016 @ 5:35pm

★★★★★

 

Once upon a time, a young Sammy J fished a randomly-issued comic book from the tooth-rotting contents of a Royal Melbourne Show showbag. He wasn’t to know it back then, but at that precise moment, a terrific Melbourne Fringe Festival show was born. Intriguing, touching and hilarious, Hero Complex concerns Sammy J’s childhood infatuation with all things The Phantom, a...

Posted 28 Sep 2016 @ 5:30pm

★★★★★

 

Written and performed by self-described queer-carnie Jess Love, this one-woman show is an auto-biographical study mixing Love’s circus prowess (ex-Circus Oz and Le Soiree) with her theatrical chops and it’s a one-two power punch combo.
 
The show mulls over the dichotomy of genetics and self determination. It turns out that Love, who was raised in a straighty-...

Posted 28 Sep 2016 @ 1:59pm

★★★★ 

 

Switzerland is a play based on the character and real life of Patricia Highsmith who is best known for her Ripley series of novels. An unusual and strong character, Joanna Murray-Smith had a generous and rich source to draw from in painting this intriguing genius of a writer in her play. Switzerland is where this play is set and where Highsmith spent the latter and last...

Posted 28 Sep 2016 @ 12:02pm

 

The Melbourne Underground Film Festival chose to honour dark indie satire Start Options Exit with two successive gongs – the first being Opening Night selection, the second being Best Film. This brings into serious question their entire raison d’etre as a festival, and not because the film they’ve selected is “so contentious”, but because it is precisely the opposite....

Posted 22 Sep 2016 @ 10:23am

★★★★ 

 

There is no rhyme or reason to the subject matter in Margaret Cho's live show – and her audience would not have that any other way. In the hour Cho spends on stage, she works her way through dozens of anecdotes and rants in rapid-fire succession. What's even more impressive is how it all seems to come straight off the cuff – talking about one thing inevitably triggers a...

Posted 22 Sep 2016 @ 10:16am

★★★

 

“I’m not most sheep,” declares Alexander Cofield, sweating profusely, strutting his stuff as Woolly, the Morose Merino. He’s still feeling the effects of his show’s opener - a memorable scene that will likely stay with audiences long after they leave the Courthouse Hotel. Overall, though, while Cofield does present similarly inspired bits throughout his show, consistency...

Posted 22 Sep 2016 @ 10:10am

★★★★ 

 

A part of After Dark Theatre Company’s lineup of stellar events at Gasworks for Melbourne Fringe Festival, Company 2 duo Chelsea McGuffin and David Carberry bring a measure of old circus by way of devised contemporary movement and dance. Set within a Parisian bohemian style, tone and aesthetic, the two performers brought both a captivating storyline with stunning feats of...

Posted 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:24pm

★★★★

 

“How many people were dragged here tonight by their partners?”. It’s an unusual way for a host to introduce a show, but when that host is Scott Aukerman and the show is Comedy Bang! Bang!, it attracts a knowing laugh from the crowd privy to the absurdity that awaits the uninitiated. Comedy Bang! Bang! is an improvised comedy podcast in which Scott Aukerman mock interviews...

Posted 31 Aug 2016 @ 1:01pm

★★★★

 

Originally debuting in 2013 with MTC, Eddie Perfect’s The Beast is back onstage at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre. As the posters around the city suggest. The play is full of ‘Murder! Lies! Cows!’ – the ingredients Perfect uses to take his audience on a journey of set pieces, including a fishing trip, a tree-change and a gourmet wine-matched dinner.
 
The Beast...

Posted 29 Aug 2016 @ 5:29pm

★★★

 

Six years ago, Tasmanian writer/director Sean Byrne thoroughly freaked out audiences with his horrific yet comical Melbourne made slasher film The Loved Ones (2009) – a story about a psychotic girl who always gets what she wants, even if that means lobotomising boys to like her. What made Byrne’s debut feature stand out from the sea of predictable horrors, was its...

Posted 29 Aug 2016 @ 5:22pm

★★

 

­­Zach’s Ceremony is a unique documentary with an unusual story. Structured around an Indigenous boy’s coming of age, director Aaron Petersen’s feature debut is at once a historical tract, a portrait of a father and son, and a work of ethnography. Though the singular footage it contains and the themes it examines qualify its importance, Zach’s Ceremony fails to narrow in on...

Posted 10 Aug 2016 @ 1:50pm

★★★

 

Ants On A Shrimp may sound like the scene you wake up to after a boozy BBQ where nobody can be bothered cleaning up before bed. But for René Redzepi and his staff at four-time World's Best Restaurant winner Noma, it’s a dish they’re putting their reputation on the line for.
 
Screening as part of MIFF, the doco follows the transportation of the Copenhagen-based...

Posted 10 Aug 2016 @ 1:28pm

★★★

 

Beware The Slenderman revisits the bloody betrayal of Payton ‘Bella’ Leutner, at the hands of fellow 12-year-olds Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser. In an effort to appease a towering, faceless ghoul dubbed Slenderman - in actuality, a fictional internet meme - the pair very nearly cost Leutner her life, luring her into a trap and stabbing her a total of 19 times. The...

Posted 10 Aug 2016 @ 1:18pm

★★

 

Frank & Lola edges agonisingly close towards the realm of satisfying cinema. Unfortunately, as it is, Matthew Ross’ story of troubled love never quite gets there.
 
Frank & Lola revolves around the gradual evaporation of a couple’s honeymoon period, paving the way for resentment, suspicion and an assortment of audacious maneuvers in the name of love. On...

Posted 4 Aug 2016 @ 1:50pm

★★★★

 

In an interview on the Dinah Shaw Show in 1977, Iggy Pop offers a pithy assessment of the cultural impact of the Stooges, the iconic and infamous garage rock band Iggy had formed in Ann Arbor, Detroit ten years earlier.  “We destroyed the 60s,” Pop says with his typical impish grin. 
 
A critic once said the Rolling Stones were dirty, but The Doors were dread...

Posted 1 Aug 2016 @ 1:54pm

★★★★

 

Walking out of a screening of Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie is surreal and, to be honest, a little bit terrifying. Is that white car following me? Am I being secretly filmed? Are they out to get me now too?
 
It's unconventional for a Theroux film. The British documentary king is normally allowed almost unrestricted access into the most weird and...

Posted 25 Jul 2016 @ 10:42am

At just 15 years old, Imogen Spendlove has exceeded expectations with her beautifully refined vocals, which are raw and filled with passion as she tells a love story that transports us throughout the different ages of discovery in a young woman’s life. As we are swept into the different stages of love that this young woman has endured, we learn more about the way she has evolved and changed...

Posted 20 Jul 2016 @ 11:29am

★★★★

 

From its first joyous expulsion of hot air, Swiss Army Man is resolutely – and proudly – the weirdest film of the year. But beyond that, the little indie that could has a geniality and complexity that make it worth overlooking its childish inclinations.
 
Hank (Paul Dano) is about to die alone on a desert island, suspended from a poorly tied noose, when a...

Posted 28 Jun 2016 @ 6:12pm

★★

 

As politics in the rest of the world has grown more outrageous, Australian politics has only grown more insipid. The endless campaign of 2016 has devolved into the sloganeering of a group of indistinguishable career politicians, all seeming to say nothing at all to no one in particular. The MTC would seem to have picked the perfect time to bring us Skylight, a political...

Posted 6 Jun 2016 @ 10:13am

★★★

 

The Melbourne Theatre Company’s Double Indemnity is a slick and provocative re-imagining of a classic that suffers from the long shadow of its filmic predecessor and an essential lack of substance.
 
Billy Wilder’s 1944 film version of the novel by James M Cain is one of the most important movies in the western canon and remains the archetypal film noir. Its...

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