I blink and it’s already February. This is uncomfortable. And this poor blog, too, has been uncomfortable, patiently sitting in silence for the last few months while I’ve travelled the world and pondered its purpose. The good news is that I am salivating for theatre once again; furthermore, I’m burning to write about it (and have been writing it). The bad news is that, like the end of 2008 proved, it’s going to be difficult to get to see everything that I want to and cover it adequately. I’ve also got much of my own work happening this year, feasting on my spare moments between study and work, and I’m keen for theatARGH not to become a product of shameless self-promotion. But for now, lets let the blog go back to doing what it was best at – reviews. Thoughts on Malthouse’s Woyzeck by the end of the week.
In my first post on this blog, I said that “you won’t be hearing about projects that I am involved in or how my writing is going…but who’s to say where you draw the line between a personal and a more broadly cultural blog?” Alison Croggon rightly pointed out in the comments below that half the interest in reading a blog is in the personal, and I’m beginning to rethink my position on the issue.
I arrived into dreary Tullamarine airport late last Tuesday evening to a crippling wind and lots and lots of rain. It wasn’t exactly the welcome home I had looked forward to from Melbourne. So it’s with a tinge of nostalgia that I conclude my writings on the Edinburgh Festival, although happily, with some of the best works that I was to experience.
The Traverse Theatre is one of many in the UK which champions new writing from primarily local, but also international, playwrights. Performing several different shows a day in the main Traverse One and the more intimate Traverse Two (a feat within itself), their program within the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year is a fantastic demonstration of their attitude towards experimentation, innovation and investment in exciting co-productions in theatre. Below are some reviews of shows that I have managed to see there so far.
The Edinburgh Festival is amazing and it is intense. The first thing that struck me was its enormity; serving as an umbrella term for a smattering of smaller festivals, the Edinburgh Festival devours both towns, old and new, giving them a glow and vibrancy unlike anywhere else in the world. For just four weeks. I’ve been seeing as many shows as possible given my time and budget constraints, but am averaging around two a day. And while many of these shows deserve longer reviews (and a fair few shorter reviews, too), these bites will hopefully cover as much ground as my tatty Converse sneakers.
I was absolutely devastated to have missed Katie Mitchell directing Martin Crimp’s latest, The City, at the Royal Court Theatre. While I consoled myself with a copy of the script, subsequently drenching it in tears thereby making it almost entirely unreadable, I decided that having traveled halfway round the world I would have my Crimp from London yet. Luckily enough, the internet led me to Tabard Theatre, perched over a small bar and cobbled courtyard in Turnham Green, a thirty-minute tube ride away from the city centre. As one of only six in a theatre for about fifty (London too has suffered from a decline in numbers at their theatres, although the scale is hardly comparable to Australia) I was able to experience the companion play to The City, The Country.
Debuted alongside the launch of the Royal Court’s 2007 international writer’s season, The Ugly One, by Marius von Mayenburg (and not directed by Benedict Andrews – would you believe?) received a two week remount in June this year in the Jerwood Downstairs Theatre, London. A world away from his darker and more dramatically experimental works, The Ugly One is a fifty-five minute farce and in the hands of Ramin Gray, it represents von Mayenburg at his most straightforward and simplistic. Unfortunately, it’s also his least exciting work, adding little to very well-trodden thematic terrain.