Real stories celebrated

The Village (La Boite and MDA Ltd)

La Boite Theatre, La Boite Studio

April 23 – May 5

Having not seen “The Village” as part of its 2017 sell-out premiere season, I anticipated that the work of ‘compelling real stories of refugees and people seeking asylum’ would be similar to experience of 2013’s “I am Here”. Reflectively, this was an incredible assumption, as each theatre work is different, just as each person’s resettlement story is unique. In “The Village” audience experiences are varied too, given how groups are split apart in an initial (deliberately) chaotic corral into smaller regroupings to progress separately through separate stations and stories of unique, but equally impacting sensibilities.

The Village.jpg

The La Boite collaboration with refugee resettlement agency MDA Ltd, immerses the audience at set-ups in the La Boite Studio and around the outside Parade Ground, and performers do a commendable job in competition with the resulting noise distractions. Still, nothing can divert focus from the engagement of the verbatim theatre of real-life stories on display, as evidenced by the young people sitting, for example, listening in absolute silent absorption to the personal story of mild-mannered Cievash Arean’s imprisonment and torture in Iran and escape across the border to Pakistan is disguise as a burqa-attired female.


Not every interaction is quite as passive, however. Performer/playwright Ngoc Phan evokes the physical and emotional experience of a two-day boat trip from Vietnam to a Malaysian refugee camp in the most cramped and confronting of conditions of a makeshift boat. And Joyce Taylor contextualises her experiences travelling with her mother and two brothers from Liberia to a Guinean refugee camp, engaging not just through hands-on demonstration of how to carry the water you may have waited hours in line for, but in the impact of her seemingly simple words about fearing the sound of RAAF flyovers at New Year’s Eve celebrations.

“The Village” has been created specifically with secondary students in mind, meaning that although it includes details of war, fear, fleeing and persecution for things such as politics, faith, culture and sexuality, there is also colour and music to its narratives, making it far-from-solemn, but still never trivialised in its presentation. Indeed, although some stories are more harrowing, such as that of young poet and film-maker, and Afghanistan-born, Arwin Arwin who was kidnapped by the Taliban before escaping to travel by boat to Brisbane when he was 17, there is an essential vibrancy to Silva Asal’s story of search for the safety of freedom of speech and expression, which is entertainingly told through invite of the audience in a makeshift tent souq.

“The Village” is a unique and powerful theatre experience that through its celebration of the stories of ordinary people in extraordinary situations, illustrates that power of hope and the realisation that although the presence of these groups is contentious in popular discourse, humanity doesn’t have to have political bias. Through its themes of diversity, belonging and the idea of home, it serves to showcase the cultural diversity of Australia through honouring the courage, strength and determination of the women, men and children who have made this country their new home.


It not only allows audience members opportunity to pause and appreciate that what we have is what thousands and millions of others dream of, but it shows that art does not necessarily have to be of rebellion. Theatre has a unique role in leading cultural conversations; by bringing minority performers and majority audiences together through works such as this, it can foster understanding and inclusion in the local community, which is especially important for young people who, it is apparent, do not know of Saddam Hussein beyond being a “South Park’ character.


Considerations of quality


A couple of months away travelling and a couple more laid up with pneumonia and I saw fewer shows in 2017 than in recent years (but still well into the double digits). Reflecting, it is clear that quality over quantity can be incredibly rewarding. And what quality there was on offer… so much so that my usual top five favourite, has been blown out to the following ten:

  1. Torch Songs (Mama Alto, Brisbane Powerhouse, Wonderland Festival)
  2. Lady Beatle (the little red company, La Boite Theatre Company)
  3. My Name is Jimi (Queensland Theatre)
  4. Once in Royal David’s City (Queensland Theatre)
  5. The Play that Goes Wrong (Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, QPAC)
  6. Chef (Persona Inc & Atobiz Ltd, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane Festival)
  7. Nigel Kennedy: Vivaldi The New Four Seasons + Dedications (Nigel Kennedy, QPAC)
  8. Kinky Boots (Michael Cassel in association with Cameron Mackintosh, QPAC)
  9. Spectate (Counterpilot, Metro Arts)
  10. Humans (Circa, QPAC)

And honourable mention to the UK’s National Theatre Stage to Screen show Yerma… Gut-wrenching, phenomenal theatre thanks to Billie Piper’s devastatingly powerful performance.

And mention also to the following highlights:

  • Best performance:
    • Elaine Crombie as a hilarious house-slave in Queensland Theatre Company’s An Octoroon.
    • Merlynn Tong in her intimate and vulnerable one-woman work, Playlab’s Blue Bones
    • Cameron Hurry as badly behaved brother Valene in the darkly irreverent The Lonesome West by Troop Productions
  • Best AV – Spectate (Counterpilot, Metro Arts)
  • Most thought provoking –- Octoroon (Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival)
  • Best new work – Merlyn Tong’s Blue Bones (Playlab, Brisbane Powerhouse)
  • Best Reimagining – Signifying Nothing (Macbeth) (Hammond Fleet Productions, Brisbane Festival)
  • Best musical – Kinky Boots (Michael Cassel in association with Cameron Mackintosh, QPAC)
  • Best cabaret:
    • Torch Songs (Mama Alto, Brisbane Powerhouse, Wonderland Festival)
    • Lady Beatle (The Little Red Company, La Boite Theatre Company)
    • Song Lines (Michael Tuahine, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane Cabaret Festival)
    • Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs (Alan Cumming, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane Cabaret Festival)
  • Best music – Nigel Kennedy: Vivaldi The New Four Seasons + Dedications (QPAC)
  • Best opera – Mark Vincent Sings Mario Lanza and the Classics (Lunchbox Productions, QPAC)
  • Funniest – The Play That Goes Wrong (Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, QPAC)
  • Most fun – Let Them Eat Cake (Act/React, Anywhere Festival)
  • Most madcap – Chef (Persona Inc & Atobiz Ltd, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane Festival)
  • Most immersive – Trainspotting Live (In Your Face Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse)
  • Most moving – Once in Royal David’s City (Queensland Theatre)

2018 looks set to continue to showcase both the wonderful work of this state’s creatives and innovative works from both here and further afield. Festivals will continue to punctuate the cultural calendar, serving to oscillate audiences between feast and famine like a cultural bulimic… although with Brisbane Powerhouse’s Melt Festival moving to May (maybe at the same time as Anywhere Festival) it may be a shower than usual start to the year.

The Beak and the beautiful

Laser Beak Man (La Boite, Dead Puppet Society and Brisbane Festival)

La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre

September 9 – 30

As “Laser Beak Man” begins with as a hole-in-the-wall style puppet show, I’m reminded of how much I typically dislike the genre. Then, the stage widens into a 3D dazzle celebration of Laser Beak Man, the colourful superhero created by internationally-acclaimed, but still-humble, Australian artist Tim Sharp who has autism.

Nathaniel Claridad, Jon Riddleberger, Helen Stephens, Jeremy Neideck, Betsy Rosen - LBMProductionPhotos2017-DylanEvansPhotography-280.jpg

The magical transformation comes as time transitions from the childhood world of Laser Beak Boy and his friend Peter Bartman, a world full of utopian dreams. With the years having then flown by, Laser Beak Man saves Power City from an angry tomato which enrages now-nemesis Peter towards villainy and theft (with sidekick Evil Emily) of all-powerful crystals. And so the story is set for a classic (super) hero tale as the mute Laser Beak Man sets off with a menagerie ensemble to retrieve the crystals needed to supercharge the city, and ultimately face-off with his now-nemesis.

Jon Riddleberger, Nathanial P. Claridad, Helen Stephens, Betsy Rosen - LBMProductionPhotos2017-DylanEvansPhotography2-33.jpg

The ambitious project sees both the story and Sharp’s stunning artistry brought to life by David Morton and Nicholas Paine, the genius creative minds at Dead Puppet Society, as part of a long term company residency at La Boite in between tours and a New York residency at the New Victory Theatre. And the result is outrageously entertaining. Transitions are seamless and rich production elements are on display in its every aspect, combining to create a compelling and moving narrative. Indeed, the storytelling is masterful, featuring complexity in its off-beat, witty humour, political allusions and visual puns for adults alongside exaggerated colour and movement for children. And it’s inclusion of free-flying orb helium-based drone objects (for the first time on an Australian stage) representing a hot air balloon and surveillance blimp, is impressive to all.

Maren Searle, Helen Stephens, Lauren Jackson, Jon Riddleberger, Jeremy Neideck - LBMProductionPhotos2017-DylanEvansPhotography2-52.jpg

Projection Designer Justin Harrison’s vibrant visual world is also supported by superbly considered music by Sam Cromack of Ball Park Music (performed along with Daniel Hanson, Dean Hanson and Luke Mosley), providing melodic enhancement through songs like the anthemic ‘We Found Strength in Numbers’.

Dean Hanson, Luke Moseley, Daniel Hanson, Sam Cromack - LBMProductionPhotos2017-DylanEvansPhotography-362 (2).jpg

The cast of puppeteers is incredible in characterisation of their puppet characters. Lauren Jackson makes Barbie deliciously down-to-earth and animates Amazing Grace as a feisty, free-spirited traveller whose advice to Laser Beak Man about the road to happiness encapsulates so much of the show’s thoughtful themes. And also of note, New York’s Jon Riddleberger, holds audience emotions in the palm of his hand as the adorable black sheep. Indeed, so absorbing is the show that you soon forget that the puppeteers are even there.


Each year La Boite Theatre Company collaborate with Brisbane Festival to being a new work to life. But this one is particularly special and the elated opening night audience ovation accordingly provided the most heartfelt curtain call perhaps ever seen in Roundhouse Theatre.


“Laser Beak Man” is a big show with a big heart, uplifting and full of utter joy in its childlike magic, message about not needing to speak to listen and attest to the important ideas of inclusion, equality and loving who you are. With its positive messages about embracing difference and affirmation of belief in a better, more inclusive world, it represents both all that can be powerful about theatre and exactly what the world needs right now. It is beautiful, important and the reason why art is made, and you probably won’t ever see anything like it again.

Photos c/o – Daniel Evans Photography

Ambiguity’s absorption

Blackrock (La Boite Theatre Company and QUT Creative Industries)

La Boite Theatre Company, Roundhouse Theatre

July 22 – August 12

Since premiering in 1995, Nick Enright’s “Blackrock” has found a place in both the Australian drama canon and on high school drama syllabuses nationwide. And, 20 years after its first presentation of the play, La Boite Theatre Company’s 2017 production shows just how sadly still relevant its social themes of mateship, misogyny and violence are.

La Boite Theatre Company's Blackrock. Pictured Karl Stuifzand, Bianca Saul, Ryan Hodson. Image by Dylan Evans.jpg

From the show’s opening scene, the production explodes with energy as teens in the (fictional) Australian beachside working-class suburb of Blackrock welcome home the prodigal, dangerous, local surfing legend Ricko (Karl Stuifzand). After an unsupervised beach party soon afterwards, 15-year-old Tracy Warner is found dead, raped by three boys, her head bashed in with a rock. Having seen the incident and done nothing, proverbial good bloke Jared (Ryan Hodson) is filled with guilt yet remains silent, which leads to the breakdown of his relationships with both his girlfriend Rachel (Jessica Potts) and his mother Diane (Christen O’Leary). Events are made even more shocking by knowledge of the narrative’s origins, based as it is on the real-life rape and murder of a 14-year-old Newcastle girl, Leigh Leigh which occurred during teenage birthday party celebrations at Stockton Surf Club in November 1989.

La Boite Theatre Company's Blackrock. Pictured Ryan Hodson, Karl Stuifzand, Tom Wilson. Image by Dylan Evans.jpg

In a unique collaboration between La Boite and QUT Creative Industries, the play presents the impact of a violent crime on a close-knit community as an engrossing and moving experience thanks to powerful performances from a talented cast of established actors and QUT near-graduates alike. The script is action packed in its initial scenes as the talented cast brings Enright’s characters to vivid life, even if the deliberate colloquial language of g-dropping initially jars in its over-emphasis.

La Boite Theatre Company's Blackrock. Pictured Jessica Potts, Ryan Hodson. Image by Dylan Evans.jpg

Powerful performances from across the large cast make for a moving experience of a story in which everyone is a victim, with the third year QUT actors allows for fresh audience responses. Thomas Cossettini gives a considered performance as Toby, torn in his determination of the difference between a friend and a mate. So too, as the victim’s friend Cherie, Ebony Nave shows compassion and emotion, especially in an initial, absorbing monologue. And Christen O’Leary and Amy Ingram show their experience as Toby’s fraught mother Diane and Cherie’s well-meaning, bordering on overbearing, mother Glenys.

La Boite Theatre Company's Blackrock. Pictured Christen O'Leary, Amy Ingram. Image by Dylan Evans.jpg

Given its morally-ambiguous and thus compelling story, “Blackrock” is a demanding play to present and Director Todd Macdonald meets the challenge by giving the work plenty of pace. Transitions are swift and effective, and digital projections add much to the initial party atmosphere, however, while staging some scenes upon a raised wooden platform works well for those seated high in the theatre-in-the-round stalls, at other times it compromises vision and thus detracts from immersion in the play’s moments.

Sadly, twenty years after “Blackrock” was first published, its themes remain relevant, cementing its worth as a modern Australian classic, as shocking, emotional and confronting as ever and not in need to overt attempts to emphasise relevance with incorporation of deliberate Queensland references. In its exploration of the impact of the story’s brutal crime on a small community and, in particular, on the only witness as he wrestles with his conscience and the laws of loyalty considered sacred among male teenagers, the show offers audiences a gripping theatrical experience but also much to talk about afterwards regarding youth culture, cyclical violence, peer pressure and the objectification of women.

Photos c/o – Dylan Evans

Lady Beatle love

Lady Beatle (La Boite & The Little Red Company)

La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre

May 25 – June 3

With a spotlight cabaret seating section and shadowed stage, the preshow aesthetic of “Lady Beatle” is of Liverpoolian grey, like through the eyes of a ladybird. This is the Lonely Hearts Club, soon to be coloured with the music of the Beatles as Naomi Price bursts forth with the penultimate ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, and its hope that we will enjoy the show. It’s a particularly appropriate initial number given that opening night marks the 50th anniversary of the band’s innovative, ground-breaking album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Over the following 70 minutes, UK-born star Naomi Price proceeds to tell a story, but probably not the one you think you are going to hear, a story that includes tell of the lucky Lady Beetle and so much more, in nod to her personal Liverpoolian roots. Her assumed Scouse accent certainly adds to the authenticity of the experience, however, what makes the show truly engaging is her banter with the audience that is so central to a quality cabaret experience. There is a lot of comedy, much of it at George Harrison’s expense, but also surprising poignancy. However, it’s not Naomi guiding audiences through this Beatles story, but their number one fan, an ultimate outsider who loves the Beatles (even George) more than anyone.

Naomi Price in Lady Beatle at La Boite Theatre - image by Dylan Evans

The kaleidoscopic soundtrack is full of highlights, thanks to the show’s incredible live music and new song arrangements, like a stripped back and absolutely beautiful, nostalgic ‘Penny Lane’, allowing the song’s story of a street near John Lennon’s childhood home, to take centre stage. The comprehensive coverage of the group’s extensive catalogue ensures that the show is packed full of favourites and there is even a rocking medley to end the night on the highest of highs.

Andrew Johnson, Mik Easterman, Naomi Price, Michael Manikus, Jason McGregor in Lady Beatle at La Boite Theatre - image by Dylan Evans

In support of Price, the virtuosic band is uniformly excellent, and it is wonderful to see drummer Mick Easterman, bass guitarist Andrew Johnson, pianist Michael Manikus and guitarist Jason McGregor given their own moments to shine, such when ‘the band begins to play’ in ‘Yellow Submarine’ and in a rocking medley mix of ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Revolution’ with ‘Love Me Do’, ‘She Loves You’ and ‘Let It Be’. On paper, mixes like this shouldn’t probably blend, but in this show’s hands they do, meaning that ‘Strawberry Fields’ sits comfortably alongside a clap-along ‘Hey Jude’. And the result is a superb soundtrack, befitting the dynamic performer leading the stage.

Naomi Price, Michael Manikus in Lady Beatle at La Boite Theatre - image by Dylan Evans

It is easy to appreciate why Brisbane loves Naomi Price. Like the fab four themselves, she is effortlessly cool and charismatic, and her voice has never been better, showing full technical and emotional range from a melodic, fantastical ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ to the lyrical linger of the experimental ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and yearning plea of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’.

Michael Manikus, Naomi Price, Jason McGregor in Lady Beatle at La Boite Theatre - image by Dylan Evans

In its celebration of song nuance and detail, “Lady Beatle” also becomes so much more, in examination of the peace and harmony of the messages of numbers like ‘Come Together’, ‘Yellow Submarine’ (including an organic sing-along), a hauntingly honest ‘With a Little Help from my Friends’ and finally a hopeful ‘Here Comes the Sun’, which sees Price return to the stage in a rocking pants suit courtesy of costume designer Leigh Buchanan. Every aspect of the show is on-point in contribution to its overall message and appealing aesthesis. Jason Glenwright’s lighting design, for example, is everything it needs to be: bold, beautiful and perfect in accompaniment of the show’s changing musical moods.

Mik Easterman, Naomi Price and Michael Manikus in Lady Beatle at La Boite Theatre - image by Dylan Evans

“Lady Beatle” shows how, as a creatives, Adam Brunes and Naomi Price can do no wrong. Although unlike their earlier “Rumour Has It” and “Wrecking Ball”, this third and final show in their pop culture cabaret trilogy, isn’t a biopic, the modern memory play’s explosion of musical colours is just a rewarding. Given The Beatles’ recognition as the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed act in popular music history, audience members are sure to come with expectations, all of which will be exceeded in what will be an infectious rediscovery of the band’s iconic, diverse catalogue anew, channelled through a sole female voice. Indeed, its song curation and story craftedness combine to make “Lady Beatle” an example of cabaret at its very best, to make you laugh, cry and smile in hope for peace, equality and love.

Photos c/o – Dylan Evans

Superlative social politics

Single Asian Female (La Boite Theatre Company)

La Boite, Roundhouse Theatre

February 11 – March 4

A show with limited flaws is always difficult to review without resort to a thesaurus list of superlatives as alternative to just saying ‘it’s so good’. With “Single Asian Female”, however, there is almost an immediate recognition not only of its greatness but of the reason for it. This debut play from Michelle Law is absolutely absorbing in its authenticity, making for a fresh, fantastic work, to which audiences should be flocking.


The story follows a family of Asian women as they navigate the intricacies of race associated with life in everytown Nambour. It begins with Pearl (Hsiao-Liang Tang), owner/manager of the The Golden Phoenix Chinese Restaurant, rejoicing in the finalisation of her divorce with delivery of a table-top karaoke ‘I Will Survive’ (who needs disco strobes when you can having flashing Chinese lantern lights?) Pearl is clearly a strong woman, as are her daughters Zoe (Alex Lee) and Mei (Courtney Stewart).


Classical musician Zoe, the eldest, resents having to move back to the Sunshine Coast after the loss of her Brisbane apartment, but is buoyed by a hook-up with Paul (Patrick Jhanur), a local immigration lawyer.


Mei, meanwhile, as an about-to-graduate secondary student is anxious to get away, especially from the mean girl pressure of her peers (embodied in Emily Vascotto’s Lana). Sick of being seen regarded as a stereotype, she struggles to reconcile her Chinese heritage and Australian upbringing, with empathetic support from her best friend Katie (Emily Burton).


It is a bold and punchy script that sees witty humour easily transition into poignancy as there is alluded-to revelation of the reasoning behind what has led Pearl to overhaul the restaurant, revel in charitable crusades and stop going to ‘the university’. It is these layers that combine to create such an emotionally compelling and gripping production.


Although there is much intimacy as audiences glimpse into the women’s lives, this is also a play about bigger concepts of culture, family and regard for others. As such, it is packed with political references and nuanced social commentary that contribute to, but never contrive the narrative. Indeed, although it centres around many difficult-to-dissect issues, it also conveys a real sense of fun within the social politics.


Although not ‘in the round’, the staging is wonderful in its creation of a rich aesthetic. The multi-level space of the back-of-restaurant’s living area is functional but also detailed in its decoration, while the restaurant area is adorned with red and gold, lanterns and tables at which audience members can sit.


The most memorable aspect of the work, however, is the performances of the stellar cast. Hsiao-Liang Tang is perfect as Pearl, inhabiting the role with equal parts feisty sass, fierce strength and tragic torment.


And Alex Lee and Courtney Stewart are both attuned to their every relationship dynamic detail as siblings, as evidenced by their committed verbal taunting and seize of every opportunity for exasperated eye-roll.


The authenticity of their interactions is a joy to watch and contributes significantly to Act One’s engagement. And by Act Two, it is clear exactly how much alike the Wong family women are in their assertiveness and resilience.

Alex Lee, Hsiao-Ling Tang, Courtney Stewart - Photography by Dylan Evans.jpg

In support, Patrick Jhanur is a solid potential partner for the overly-anxious Zoe and Emily Vascotto, in her mainstage debut, shows great promise as the passively-aggressive Ms Popular, Lana. However, it is Emily Burton who steals every scene. There are few actresses who can play a teen as well (as “A Tribute of Sorts” showed), and as Mei’s best friend, she is simply superb, not just in comic timing but in perfect emphasis and nuanced looks that can make even a Lazy Susan turn thing of hilarity.


Initially, the episodic narrative flies by, however, Act Two, drags a little with the inclusions of some superfluous and overly-length scenes. The opening night audience at its world premiere still responded with immediate standing ovation, so this can perhaps be forgiven.


While “Single Asian Female” is sure to have a long life in this country, audiences should see it as soon as possible before the specifics of its narrative are revealed, because there is nothing more rewarding than the anticipatory interval discussion and shared experience of realisation that really engaging theatre can bring. It is a brilliant new, challenging and exciting work that not only serves as an entertaining expose of the seemingly simple lives of others, but also a reminder that we really have no idea of what might be going on behind others’ closed doors. Like the smell of oil that lingers in the skin of those in the family living above The Golden Phoenix, it is a work that will stay with you in memory of its essential messages about family and resilience, as much for its laughter.


Photos c/o – Dylan Evans

The delight and unite of theatre


Theatre-going may beget theatre-going, but the end of year does provide welcome respite to relax and reflect upon the bevy of brilliant shows that Brisbane audiences have be privileged to experience in 2016. As for me, from 150 shows seen, there have been many favourites, including:

  1. The Tragedy of King Richard III (La Boite Theatre Company) – The fast and furious story of rampant revenge that we thought we knew is an evocation of the play, the man and ourselves thanks to the hard questions asked by Daniel Evans and Marcel Dorney.
  1. Disgraced (Queensland Theatre presenting a Melbourne Theatre Company Production) – Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning intense and absorbing drama which fearlessly puts contemporary attitudes towards politics, race and religion under the microscope in exploration of freedom of speech, political correctness and the prejudices towards Islam, even in the most progressive cultural circles.
  1. True West (Brisbane Powerhouse, Troy Armstrong Management, Thomas Larkin and Annette Box) – Sam Shepperd’s modern classic which sees two desert-dwelling brothers go head-to-head, kicking and thrusting towards physical and psychological showdown in desperate pursuit of the American Dream.
  1. The Secret River (Queensland Theatre presenting a Sydney Theatre Company production) – Kate Grenville’s story of two families divided by culture and land on the banks of the frontier Hawkesbury River in the early nineteenth century.
  1. Bastard Territory (Queensland Theatre) – A complex, beautiful story about people that transports audiences back in time to the swinging ‘60s PNG and the bohemian days of 1975 NT, before settling in 2001, as Darwin sits poised for political progress.
  • Best performance – Thomas Larkin as Lee in True West (Brisbane Powerhouse), Ngoc Phan in as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire (La Boite)
  • Best staging – Madama Butterfly (Opera Q)
  • Best lighting – Snow White (La Boite, Brisbane Festival)
  • Best AV – The Wider Earth (Queensland Theatre)
  • Most interesting – Disgraced (Queensland Theatre, QPAC)
  • Best New Work – The Tragedy of King Richard III (La Boite)
  • Best Shakespeare – Twelfth Night (Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble)
  • Best musical – The Sound of Music (Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, John Frost and The Really Useful Group)
  • Best cabaret – California Crooners Club (Parker + Mr French, Brisbane Festival)
  • Best dance – Huang Up & Kuka (Brisbane Powerhouse, WTF)
  • Funniest – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Lyric Hammersmith and Filter Theatre – UK, Brisbane Festival)
  • Most fun – Titanic The Movie The Play (Act/React, Brisbane Comedy Festival)
  • Most moving – The Secret River (Queensland Theatre)

Although many of my personal highlights have been international acts, often featuring as part of festivals, these cultural feasts have also delivered some excellent locally-themed theatre amid the internationalisation on offer. It is the delight of theatre that events such as these can not only inspire creativity, but also unity in cultural participation. Hopefully 2017 will see more people realising theatre’s accessibility, because it is not about a specialist language or privileged perspective but rather just people telling a story or sharing a way of looking at the world… things that are at the core of our essential humanity.