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BELL SHAKESPEARE’S HAMLET
To go or not to go, that is the question. Or is it? Damien Ryan’s taut direction plus
compulsively watchable performances by Josh McConville, Matilda Ridgway and
a stellar ensemble of Bell Shakespeare alumni mean seeing this Hamlet production
is a no-brainer. We chat to Damien about why you should care about the Prince of
Denmark, post English class.
If Hamlet were alive and living in Australia today, how would we recognise him?
I think he might be a stand-up comic, a subversive, much loved and much hated one, unable
to contain his bolder excesses of thought. (He is among the funniest characters ever written.
He can make jokes to the bitter end.) He’d also have his own fashion label. Largely black.
Can you sum up Hamlet’s character in a few words?
Hamlet is a truth-seeking missile. Anyone who lies to Hamlet, dies – so tell the truth.
What makes the “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy such a big deal?
It’s the big question, isn’t it? Not just to live or die, but what lies beyond, and why do we
keep going in the face of such an unjust world? What is our purpose, and why is it so hard
to be courageous? Why is it so hard to act on what we believe in?
What don’t most people know about Shakespeare that they really should?
He was a populist as a storyteller, a visceral, subversive, vulgar genius. His theatre was
not like our theatre, which has become almost church-like. Shakespeare’s plays suggest
a fleshier, messier, more humane atmosphere. He offered a dish that fed groundlings and
the court elite in the same serving, which is some feat.
State Theatre Centre of WA, Aug 12-15.
You can be my hero,
baby. From Odysseus to
Gilgamesh to Vin Diesel
(really?!) and back again,
this epic production invites
you to time-travel with
the great mythic heroes
of story and song.
The Blue Room, Jun 8-13,
Irish political intrigue circa
1921, as rebel leader
Michael Collins grapples
with a young Winston
Churchill to negotiate
the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
Journalist Mark Kenny’s
acclaimed play makes this
battle of political lions rear
up and roar.
Irish Club of WA,
Jun 10-13, 9381 5213.
Think of it as Cinderella
meets Law & Order –
a morality tale for the
modern woman, all dressed
up and with plenty of places
to go (starting with Harvard
Law School). If you loved
the movie that made Reese
Witherspoon a star, you’ll
Full details and online bookings at scoop.com.au/theatre
The Song Was Wrong
A ravishing piano score sets the scene for this epic wartime romance created by Perth
Theatre Company artistic director Melissa Cantwell. A play with music (as opposed
to a musical play), the piece was inspired by a story Cantwell heard long ago and far
away, in a smoky dive bar in Ho Chi Minh City. “It was about a pianist in that bar during
the French occupation who fell in love with a Frenchwoman and had a passionate
romance,” she begins. And then? And then? Well, without giving too much away, let’s
just say it gets complicated. Cantwell never found out if the story was true or just
a local legend, but it’s haunted her ever since as “a compelling metaphor for what love
does to us”. Translation: don’t forget the tissues. Studio Underground, State Theatre
Centre of WA, Jun 4-20 .
No one wants a first wife hanging around all the time, and that goes double when she’s
dead. In this stylish Black Swan production, the fabulous Noel Coward explores what
happens when a great love continues to haunt us. Literally. “We’ve moved away from
the traditional visual, and given it a sumptuous cartoony look which is very unusual
for a Noel Coward,” says director Jeffrey Fowler of the new set from London-based
designer Bryan Woltjen. Don’t worry, the dialogue hasn’t been subjected to the same
treatment: “I’ve been very true to the text itself – when you have a writer as brilliant
as Coward, you’re foolish to edit or chop a word.” Phew! Classic Coward at his bitchy
best. State Theatre Centre of WA, Jul 18-Aug 9.
Damien Ryan (photography
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