75 summarised

Earlier this month I reviewed my 75th Queensland Theatre show. Over the almost nine year journey to that number, there have been all range of experiences from comedy to drama and even a musical here and there, including my following deserving dozen highlight (because top ten lists as so clichéd).

  1. Boy Swallows Universe (2021)

More than just recreating Trent Dalton’s story, Queensland Theatre’s landmark production of “Boy Swallows Universe”, honoured the original text and transformed it as a work of its own, dynamic in its realisation and anchored around its theme of resilience.

2. FANGIRLS (2019)

Like a young adult novel set to music, 2019’s “FANGIRLS” was a funny, witty and relatable guilty pleasure of sorts, complete with important messages about gender-based hypocrisy within its celebration and vindication of misunderstood teenage fangirls.

3. Ladies in Black (2015)

Before they came back to wow us again, the Ladies in Black shopgirls first transported us to 1950s Sydney courtesy of catchy Tim Finn songs and fabulous frocks.

4. A Tribute of Sorts (2014)

“A Tribute of Sorts” stands of one of the company’s strangest, but most strangely rewarding shows as its black comedy introduced us to teenage cousins Ivan and Juniper and their variety show homage re-enactment of the 26 untimely deaths of a series of alphabetically named children.

5. Good Muslim Boy (2018)

A big-impact story of small moments, 2018’s “Good Muslim Boy” was both gripping and fascinating in its ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ tell of Iraqi-Australian actor, comedian and writer Osamah Sami’s ill-fated pilgrimage to Iran with his father.

6. Triple X (2021)

As the Queensland Theatre play that audiences waited a year for, “Triple X” provided a commentary on the complicated issues of gender and sexuality that was funny, honest and powerfully moving.

7. Return to the Dirt (2021)

Steve Pirie’s Queensland Premier’s Drama Award winning “Return to the Dirt”, inspired by his real experiences working in a funeral home, was not just an examination of what it means to die in the 21st century, but a very funny and moving night of entertainment.

8. Disgraced (2016)

Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize winning one act play “Disgraced” presented an exceptional provocative examination of socio-political themes in its intense New York dinner party and aftermath presentation.

9. Bastard Territory (2016)

The confessional drama of 2016’s “Bastard Territory” was a beautiful story about people more than just ideas as it transported its audience back in time to ‘60s PNG 1975 NT, and then Darwin in 2001, as the city sat poised for political progress.

10. Brisbane (2015)

Brisbane’s namesake show gave its audience a historically nostalgic representation of the city in an epic story of its changing 1942 world that was about sensibility as much as its setting and characters.

11. Country Song (2015)

Michael Tuahine was every part the good-natured, clean-living ‘Gentleman Jim’ in 2015’s fictionalised “Country Song” story of the music and life of pioneering Australian country music star Jimmy Little.

12. Jasper Jones (2018)

Striking staging effectively took audiences to all the key scenes of Craig Silvey’s award-winning modern Australian classic novel “Jasper Jones” as part of the company’s 2018 season.  

To be woman?

Bernhardt/Hamlet (Queensland Theatre)

Queensland Theatre, Bille Brown Theatre

May 28 – June 18

With clam-shell surrounded footlights bordering its stage within a stage, “Bernhardt/Hamlet” immediately urges its audience to step back in time to the world of 19th Century Parisian theatre. Theresa Rebeck’s backstage comedy, which is loosely based on real life events, follows the life of its titular heroine Sarah Bernhardt (Angie Milliken) now in her mid-50s, as she upends the status-quo of late 19th Century Paris with her unconventional, and at times outrageous, approach to life and work. Too old to play the ingénue and unwilling to take on any of the stale roles written for women, the unstoppable legendary larger-than-life leading lady decides to take on the role of Hamlet, so commissions Edmond Rostand (Nicholas Brown) of future ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ fame, to adapt Shakespeare’s play, in the hope that it will be the box office blockbuster necessary to save her auditorium from bankruptcy.

Whether the bold move will be Benhardt’s legacy or undoing, is not, however, the only exploration of the play. Indeed, there is lots to engage audiences in what is, under Lee Lewis’ direction, a layered exploration of Shakespeare, the theatre and women’s roles within it, as the French actress argues that the only thespian who could actually capture the Danish prince’s contradictions is a woman. The intelligence of Rebeck’s script shines as we are given a backstage glimpse at to Bernhardt’s process of examining the idea of “Hamlet”… the sense of it beyond just the words. As she delves into what makes the character tick, but also everyone’s dilemma of how old to make him, key “Hamlet” monologues and soliloquies are explored as part of her immersion into the character and his burdens, reminding us of the importance of Shakespeare and his language.

There is a certainly a lot going on and, along with its intellect, the play comes with satisfying comic moments, courtesy mostly of Bernhardt’s company of players the revered Constant Conquelin (Hugh Parker), Lysette (Amy Ingram), Francois (Leon Cain) and Raoul (Gareth Davies). From a confused attempt to determine the logic behind multiple player entrances potentially upstaging the star, to a memorable seduction of Ingram’s Ophelia in one of the few snippet-sied actual scenes from Shakespeare’s play, they take us on a journey from dressing room to back-of-stage and front-of-stage.

A double revolving stage also aides in swift scene transitions between sections of the theatre and the streets of Paris. In his 100th Queensland Theatre production David Walker’s lighting similarly takes us in and out of rehearsals and performance spaces, as well as into the streets of the French capital, while Max Lambert’s musical compositions melody us between scenes. The sometimes lush fabrics of Simone Romaniuk’s costume design also aides in the establishment of some memorable visual moments.

Milliken is a delight to watch as the Divine Sarah, luminously nimbling about the stage, owning her passion, determination in the face of dissent and legendary lack of shame as honest badges of honour, yet still showing some flashes of vulnerability in defence of her destructive adulterous affair with the enraptured Edmund, for whom she serves as muse, meaning that while she is not always likeable in her choices or their motivations, she is worthy of our respect.

Parker is solid as Bernhard’s friend and contemporary Coquelin who has played Hamlet four times, but has now aged into other roles, giving a masterclass in presentation of a range of dramatic emotions while imparting acting advice to the less experienced players. Meanwhile, as esteemed theatre critic Louis, Anthony Gooley gives us an early highlight when, in a Parisian café, he is left aghast at even the though of Bernhardt’s audacious gimmick.

Although things move quickly, conflict isn’t really established until after interval when the story moves more into exploration of the complex romance between Sarah and the married Rostand with the brief introduction of Rostand’s just-as-strong wife Rosamond (Wendy Mocke), and his new play, Bernhard’s adult son Maurice (played to perfection by Julian Curtis).

While there are discussions of art and poetry and what Shakespeare might have meant between Rostand and the art nouveau illustrator of Bernhardt’s posters, Alphonse Mucha (David Valencia), and consideration of the transformative nature of theatre, these latter parts of its narrative drag a little with perhaps too much time spend on the love affair storyline at the expense of the witty dialogue and challenging insights that characterise its other sections.

“BERNHARDT/HAMLET” is a very good play, dense with ideas deserving of contemplation. While very meta in its discussion of the exquisiteness of Shakespeare’s poetic language, it is also, simultaneously a consideration of women and power, and the way gender in performance is considered, though interrogation of “Hamlet”, and also through mentions of “Medea”, “Macbeth”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “King Lear” and alike. While at its core it is a play for lovers of language and theatre, its humour makes it accessible to audiences beyond this. And there is also the opportunity to get past the mythology of the greatest actress of her century to learn a little more about someone to whom’s legacy everyone involved in the theatre still owes some respect.

Photos – c/o Brett Boardman

Epic Albee

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Queensland Theatre and The State Theatre Company South Australia)

QPAC, The Playhouse

February 12 – 28

Those who know Edward Albee’s provocative Tony Award-winning play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woof?” know it is one of many words. For those who don’t, this is emphasised by the staging of Queensland Theatre and The State Theatre Company South Australia co-production from the curtain-up reveal of handwritten graffiti that walls about the stage. ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ it asks over and over again, or is that the big bad world we wonder as we read down through its fun and games mention. (The featured play’s title is a pun on the song ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’ from Walt Disney’s “Three Little Pigs”, with substitution of the celebrated author’s name.)

The living room space within the graffiti walls, has its own barriers, appropriately see-through given that all is about to be laid bare. Symbolism abounds as a glass-encased mask, rather than painting, of distorted reality, occupies a central position. With a well-stocked drinks trolly also on display, it is all very bright and modern and hardly worthy of Martha’s in-jest assessment of it as ‘a dump’. And while the artwork’s dominance does serve as distraction at times, it is apt that when the story opens to its frustrated middle-aged married couple protagonists, George (Jimi Bani) and Martha (Susan Prior), they are seated apart and separated by it.  

Associate Professor History George and the College President’s daughter Martha have just arrived home from a party at their small New England College. Martha may be a remarkable woman according to her husband’s jest, but as she embarks upon a 2am bang-on about a Bette Davis film, she is almost immediately unlikeable. Savage-tongued and calculating, she initiates an insult trade with George who initially retaliates with a passive aggressive approach. There is a natural banter to the couple’s early dialogue as they await the arrival of their new-to-town guests, young new Biology faulty member Nick (Rashidi Edward) and his wife Honey (Juanita Navas-Nguyen), however, any veneer is soon stripped away as they move into the psychological cat-and-mouse ‘games’ that typify their complex relationship.

When Martha crosses the line by breaking their rule of talking to Honey about their son, drunken revelations and recriminations slip them into ‘humiliate the host’ and ‘get the guest’ mode, catalysing towards a shocking conclusion of unearthed demons, all for the sake of conflict. Helping this along, Andrew Howard’s sound composition and design pounds us towards the intensity of each act’s toxic climax. And Nigel Levings’ lighting design artfully illuminates the living room arguments when George and Nick retreat inside from an outside chat, and warms us into the 4am dance that represents the realisation of Marta’s flirtation with Nick while his humiliated, naïve and ill-equipped-for-drinking wifelet sleeps on the bathroom floor.

Everybody drinks at George and Martha’s and anybody going there gets testy, George reflects to Nick. And as things progress we see the truth of this, with devastating consequences as each act we see more walls being lifted, both physically and figuratively and 23 years of marriage being snapped into a declaration of war.

A classic of this calibre demands a strong cast and in this regard the performers certainly all rise to the challenge. While Edward and Navas-Nguyen are solid in their support, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” is all about the story’s central sparring partners George and Maratha, who will even argue over if the moon is out. Prior’s Martha is loud, vulgar, spoiled and self-indulgent. And in her domineer of everyone with her vindictive blame-filled manipulation, she is incredibly dynamic. Indeed, it is a credit to Prior that she is able to make her so sustainably unlikable as she graduates to mocking George’s failings in Act Two, yet also allow us some insight into her emotional state during an alone-on-stage early Act Three monologue that this is tempered with a sad vulnerability. Jimi Bani, similarly, makes the essentially miserable George the more likeable of the pair, but also, increasingly, almost without us noticing, cruel towards others. He is at his best perhaps in Act One, where he engages as a natural storyteller, dancing his drink around and telling tales with the right mount of exaggeration, humour and comic timing to engage newly-welcomed Nick, and, by proxy, the audience.

Edward Albee’s iconic tale of marital dysfunction is certainly a wordy one, with lots of dense, ferocious dialogue and especially Bani and Prior deliver marathon performances, befitting the behemoth of a script. While the writing may be clever, however, it is, at times, almost self-indulgent in its verbosity. The epic three-act play (performed here with two intervals) packs a punch, but is exhausting in its intensity. And while it has some humour, it is far from a fun work.

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is a classic of the stage that every theatre lover should see at least once, albeit maybe with an earlier start-time or not on a school night, given the shared audience struggle with its duration. When it premiered in New York in 1962 it shocked audiences and became an instant classic and as this fresh new production shows, 60 years later, the verbal sparring of the couples still stings just as much.

Photos c/o – Brett Boardman

Century’s choice

Fortunate as we have been in Queensland this year, I was able to experience exactly 100 shows in 2021 and though I am thankful for every single one of them, there are of course some that stand out as favourites.

1. The Revolutionists (The Curators)

The drama-filled French-revolutionist play about a playwright writing a play was passionate, powerful, political and full of important messaging about women’s importance in history and the fundamental role of theatre and culture in history and civilisation.

2. Boy Swallows Universe (Queensland Theatre)

More than just recreating Trent Dalton’s story, Queensland Theatre’s landmark production of “Boy Swallows Universe”, honoured the original text and transformed it as a work of its own, dynamic in its realisation and anchored around its theme of resilience.

3. Triple X (Queensland Theatre)

As the Queensland Theatre play that audiences waited a year for, “Triple X” provided a commentary on the complicated issues of gender and sexuality that was funny, honest and powerfully moving.

4. Prima Facie (Queensland Theatre)

Queensland Theatre’s production of Suzie Miller’s “Prima Facie” was a riveting 100-minute one-woman tour-de-force indictment of the legal system, appropriately acclaimed by the thunderous applause of three curtain calls.

5. Of Mice and Men (Ad Astra)

Ad Astra’s production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” served as a poignant reminder of not only the heartbreak of its story and themes, but of how classics are classics for a reason.

6. Fourthcoming (shake & stir theatre company)  

Shake & stir theatre company’s contemporary adults-only choose-your-own-adventure romantic comedy “Fourthcoming” not only placed the course of the narrative in the audience’s hands, but provided an avalanche of non-stop laugh-until-you-cry moments.

7. The Producers (Altitude Theatre)

Altitude Theatre’s inaugural production, “The Producers” was self-aware and hugely entertaining with distinctive musical numbers and laugh-out-louds a-plenty 

8. Anatomy of a Suicide (BC Productions)

The precision with which all elements of the three consecutively unfolding stories of BC Production’s “Anatomy of a Suicide” unfold made for a powerful exploration of the ideas of family, mental health, love and strong women.

9. Elektra/Orestes (The Hive Collective)

The Hive Collective’s dynamic adaptation of Euripides’ classic Greek tragedy “Electra” was elevated in interest through a very clever second-half reversal of scenes, where events occurred in complement to the onstage action alongside the original dialogue.

10. Return to the Dirt (Queensland Theatre)

Steve Pirie’s Queensland Premier’s Drama Award winning “Return to the Dirt”, inspired by his real experiences working in a funeral home was not just an examination of what it means to die in the 21st century, but a very funny and moving night of entertainment at Queensland Theatre.

And of particular note….

Best Performance:

Glace Chase – Triple X (Queensland Theatre)

Playwright, Glace Chase was magnetic as the candid Dexi in “Triple X”. Bold but vulnerable, she made Dexi complex in her multi-dimension and identifiable in her inner conflicts, with a portrayal that added immensely to the emotional effect of the show’s unprecedented storytelling about love in the 21st century.

Oliver Childs – Our House (Brisbane Arts Theatre)

Oliver Childs not only showed a talent for characterisation in his realisation of the two Joe Caseys of the alternative realities of Brisbane Arts Theatre’s “Our House”, but his enthusiastic energy and vocal delivery worked well to encapsulate the spirit at the core of the jukebox musical’s experience.

Best Musical – Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Spotlight Theatrical Company)

It was easy to understand why Spotlight Theatrical Company’s season of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” sold out before even opening, given the company’s polished approach to all of its aspects and especially the strong performances of its main cast members.

Best Ensemble – The Producers (Altitude Theatre)

With a cast all pushing their eccentric performances to their full potential, Altitude Theatre’s The Producers was high-energy and immensely entertaining throughout.

Best Music – Creedence Clearwater Inspired Featuring Proud Mary (QPAC)

Proud Mary gave QPAC audiences a reminder of just how good live music is with an infectious 2-hour rock back to a time when the prolific Creedence Clearwater Revival was the soundtrack of a generation.

Best Cabaret – Your Song (little red company)

The little red company’s world premiere of “Your Song” was a lively throwback to rock and roll with an edge of glam in a glitzy rainbow of celebratory colour and unquestionable on-stage talent.

Cleverest – Anatomy of a Suicide (BC Productions) 

With concurrently played out stories across three generations of mothers and daughters, BC Productions’ “Anatomy of a Suicide” had a lot going on in its Brisbane premiere. As the stories played out side-by-side, switching across stage sections, episodic scenes danced together rhythmically, colliding in synchronisation of key lines to emphasise the commonality of concepts, making for a cleverly crafted provocation around ideas associated with legacy.

Best New Work – Return to the Dirt (Queensland Theatre)

While Steve Pirie’s Queensland Premier’s Drama Award winning “Return to the Dirt”, deals with a number of heavy themes, it is a well-written, emotionally rich play that offered a refreshing take on a young man’s story.

Most Fun – Our House (Brisbane Arts Theatre)

Brisbane Arts Theatre’s jukebox musical “Our House”, based on the songs of Madness didn’t take itself too seriously, including through its number of nods to band’s music videos, making its experience all sorts of infectious fun.

Funniest – Fouthcoming (shake & stir theatre company)  

Thanks to performances in the face of its changing narrative, the hilarity of shake & stir theatre company’s “Fouthcoming” never stopped.

Special mention goes to the post show-within-the-show discussion of La Boite Theatre’s “Caesar”, which provided the funniest scene of the year, through its absolutely hilarious TikTok livestream nods to the Brisbane theatre scene.

Most Thought Provoking – Locked In (Shock Therapy)

Shock Therapy’s “Locked In” provided a thought-provoking exploration of experience and impact of living with a rare neurological disorder, for sufferers and their families alike.

Best Stage Design Staging – The Revolutionists (The Curators)

Intimate traverse staging allowed audience members to become fully immersed in recognition of the stunningly rich aesthetic and, appropriately for a play set in revolutionary France, its cast of real-life fierce female characters to burst down its fashion runway.

Best Costume Design – The Revolutionists (The Curators)

Attention to detail added to the dynamism of the experience of this Curators show with lush pink and red mix-patterned ruffled and frilled costumery conveying a clear sense of opulence befitting the play’s French Revolution setting.

Best Sound Design – Elektra/Orestes (The Hive Collective)

The Hive Collective’s adaptation of Euripides’ classic “Electra” was elevated by a vivid, atmospheric sound design that both heightened audience suspense and fevered its story’s foreboding.

Best Video Design – Boy Swallows Universe (Queensland Theatre)

The blockbuster video design of Queensland Theatre’s “Boy Swallows Universe” both gave us Brisbane iconography and nooks and crannies alike, but bled its imagery into the story’s themes.  

Learning to live with the dead

Return to the Dirt (Queensland Theatre)

Queensland Theatre, Bille Brown Theatre

October 16 – November 6

“You have to write everything down,” newbie funeral director Steve (Mitchell Bourke) is told by a colleague on his first callout. Thankfully for theatre-goers, Toowoomba born playwright Steve Pirie has done exactly that, with “Return to the Dirt”, winner of the prestigious Queensland Premier’s Drama Award (QPDA), the largest playwriting award in the country, which sees a guaranteed Queensland Theatre production of the winning play. The work, which has been inspired by his real experiences working in a funeral home is not only one of the best ever QPDA winners, but a very funny and moving night of entertainment.

In it, a playwright called Steve invokes a version of himself as he recalls his one year in Toowoomba where he traded his unemployed life as a struggling theatre artist for work in a funeral home as an undertaker. It is two weeks before Christmas in 2014 and Steve and his fiancé Claire (Sophie Cox) have a wedding to pay for, and so we see the story literally rotate, courtesy of the revolve stage design, through scenes from waiting room anticipation of his interview, and then the realities of his induction to the calling that becomes his day-in and day-out.

The narrative is framed by Pirie himself as The Playwright, recounting the events in asides to the audience while also critiquing the big business approach of the funeral industry. The credibility of the show’s commentary is enhanced by the device, however, it also enables his reflection on who he was and how he dealt with issues around mental health. And we see this complemented by creative choices such as the oversized suits that reflect young Steve’s youth and sense of never feeling fully at fit within himself.

The play brings with it big themes not just around death, but about finding one’s place in the world, the power of personal redemption and humility. Renee Mulder’s design elements mean that we are immersed into intimate experience of and connection with the story, not just through the stage’s proximity to the Bille Brown Theatre audience that could otherwise be lost in a big space, but also through its Act Two projections, which provoke active audience engagement towards appreciating the age range of deaths in the city, for all sorts of reasons.

While the work deals with a number of heavy themes, “Return to the Dirt” is a well-written, emotionally rich play that offers a refreshing take on a young man’s story, in what could easily have been clichéd. It is littered with identifiable small town allusions, not just to Toowoomba but regional areas everywhere and very real characters like there-for-everyone Deb (Jeanette Cronin), Steve’s older funeral director mentor. Every workplace in every town probably has a Deb; she tells her truth sometimes without consideration of social etiquette, and we love her because deep down it’s maybe ours too. And Cronin’s performance highlights her compassion and matter-of-factness in equal measure, effectively breaking the tension on many occasions to balance the show’s tone.  

The show is well-acted throughout, by performers who are all making their Queensland Theatre debut. Onstage for almost the entire time, Bourke is excellent as the young Steven, in increasing conflict between his personal demons and the psychological price of collecting and caring for bodies and interacting with grieving family members. The small ensemble handles the show’s revolving door of characters and props with ease, adding many moments of perfectly-pitched comedy, that ensures that even a well-timed background character wink can erupt the audience in laughter. And vibrant Act One scenes, in which The Playwright shares information about embalming, funeral insurance and alike, provide a buoyant balance with the pathos that follows after interval.  

“Return to the Dirt” is a big, layered play of two halves, however, under Lee Lewis’ direction, it rarely feels long until its bunny-hops to a conclusion. It is fascinating, confronting and comforting in its examination of what it means to die in the 21st century and with its universal themes and engaging presentation it can easily transfer to a season in any location. With “Robyn Archer: An Australian Songbook” now postponed until next year, it also serves as perfect conclusion to the 2021 Queensland Theatre season, in thematic bookend with its opener “Our Town” in its universally human consideration of who we are and how we measure our lives.

Photos c/o – David Kelly

Looking to ’22

On the Sunday sliver of space between the end of Brisbane Festival and the Tony Awards celebration of Broadway being back, Queensland Theatre’s Artistic Director Lee Lewis has launched its 2022 season with promise of continued celebration of the resilience of the arts and cultural sector, and the power of great stories told by talented artists. And season tickets are on sale now!

Finally making its way to the mainstage, after 2020’s false Brisbane start, is the rarely performed and highly anticipated “Othello”. Adapted for the stage by Jimi Bani and Jason Klarwein (who is also the production’s director), the work’s examination of race and gender politics through an Australian lens will be occurring at Queensland Theatre’s Bille Brown Theatre from 10 September to 1 October as part of the 2022 Brisbane Festival. The trilingual (Kala Lagaw Ya, Yumpla Tok and English) production promises illumination of the vital role of the Torres Straight Light Infantry Battalion during World War Two.

Shakespeare also makes an appearance of sorts with Theresa Rebek’s “Bernhardt/Hamlet” directed by Lee Lewis, which, with support by Phillip Bacon Galleries, will be take audiences to the fashion and feminism of late 19th century Paris in the Bille Brown Theatre from 28 May to 18 June. Forget ‘to be, or not to be’, for theatre star Sarah Bernhardt absolutely will when she sets her sights on playing Hamlet because who better to take on the greatest part ever written than the greatest actress of the century?

Classics continue to feature within the season’s framework with a reminder that nothing good ever happens after 3am, courtesy of Edward Albee’s big and bold domestic comedy, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe” (most recently seen at Brisbane’s Ad Astra), which will be showing at QPAC’s Playhouse from February 12 – 26. Directed by Margaret Harvey, the fresh State Theatre Company South Australia production, supported by Production Partner Griffith University, promises a fresh and unique vision of the classic portrait of a marriage in crisis in its veer between reality and illusion, and hatred and desire.  

Another highlight comes courtesy of the revival of Wesley Enoch’s joyous Brisbane musical “The Sunshine Club” (with music by John Rodgers) which the Australian playwright and former Queensland Theatre artistic director will direct at the QPAC Playhouse from 9 – 30 July. In partnership with QPAC and supported by Production Partner Ergon Energy, the groundbreaking 1999 show will swing audiences into the titular Sunshine Club of 1946 where everyone is welcome and romances bloom.

Big social themes feature at the heart of many of the season’s works, including with Kendall Feaver’s “The Almighty Sometimes”, a heartfelt family drama that explores the complexities of diagnosing children and raising teenagers towards independence. Under Daniel Evans’ direction, the award-winning play will bring to its audiences serious subject matter with some funny at Bille Brown Theatre from 13 August to 3 September.

March will see the world premiere of the compelling debut work “First Casualty” at the Bille Brown Theatre, supported by Production Partners BDO Australia, the Landmark Productions Fund and Legacy Queensland. The work, written by a serving soldier and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Christopher Johnston, to be directed by Lee Lewis, will, from 12 March to 9 April, take its audiences to the high point of the war in Afghanistan in 2011. The story of soldiers more than war, promises authenticity in its depiction of the triumphs, tragedies, strains and sacrifices of defence force personnel.

Also more intimate in its focus is the world premiere of “don’t ask what the bird look like” by Hannah Belanszky, which will be directed by Isaac Drandic at the Bille Brown Theatre from 30 April to 14 May. This gently funny, almost gothic tale about land, family and reconnection from an exciting new First Nations voice promises to be a heart-warming meditation on the search for identity and belonging with a light touch of humour and a philosophical undercurrent.

The season of complex and richly diverse stories will conclude with a one of home and celebration of immigrant and refugee stories, as well as our common humanity. With hippies, cowboys and a ninja battle on stage at the Bille Brown Theatre, under the direction of Lee Lewis, the wild hip hop romance of Qui Nguyen’s American heartland road trip take “Vietgone” looks set to bring some pulp fiction style surprises along with its humour and songs (original music by Shane Rettig) to its 29 October – 19 November season.

Queensland Theatre’s season of eight plays, including two world premieres, represents a now particularly treasured opportunity to bring community together, regardless of how the reality of the year to come may pan out. And given the vibrancy of its diverse 2022 program, audiences can now only await with fingers crossed anticipation for a fantastic year filled with theatre.