Astray love in triplicate

Shadows of Love: A Triptych (The Curators)

Christ Church

October 15 – November 6

“Shadows of Love: A Triptych”, as its suffix suggests, is a cohesive collection of three short works exploring the undercurrent emotions of relationships when love goes wrong. It’s a theme evident from the outset in consideration of the as-always impressive aesthetics, a collection of gendered artifacts curated together by Michael Beh. Childlike dolls, tea sets, dresses and shawls hang in jumble from the rafters of Milton’s Christ Church, all white in evocation of the essential innocence, or otherwise, that is to be contemplated across the works.

The first and lengthiest presentation occupies the entirety of Act One. Resentment, revenge and retreat are all heightened from the outset of John Romeril’s 1971 work “Mrs Thally F”,  we are taken through the one act song and dance of 25-year-old Yvonne’s (Sherri Smith) life, literally. From ‘Lollipop’ to ‘Reet Petite”, music defines her once belle of the ball life and desire to dance, and we delight in seeing the ‘50s numbers (with crisp vocals from chanteuse Chelsea Burton) and snippets thereof played out on stage in energetic tell of the double murderess’ story. Sweet as candy she isn’t, but she’s got what it takes but a lack of luck in the husband department. That’s life for you, again quite literally given that her story is that of an actual Sydney prisoner.

After an excitable introduction, things settle into Yvonne’s narrative. What stands out most then is the work’s ingenious staging. Most obviously we see our protagonist interacting with a rag doll husband or two, cleverly manipulated and voiced by fellow performers. Lisa Hockey’s direction is lively and clever staging is seen, even down to its scant set pieces with, for example, am unsecured tabletop allowing re-appropriation of the furniture parts for a variety of prop uses. Every possible avenue for creativity is explored in tell of her longing beyond the veneer of her taken-care-of life.

Smith makes for a flighty Yvonne, intent on the best from her bad deal, with a little urging from her mother (Bronwyn Nayler). Vivienne Whittle is also of particular note as the sister of Yvonne’s second husband, in execution of the exaggerated dramatic style that elevates the work to a stylised and engaging realisation, working well also with Julie Berr in puppetry of Yvonne’s ill-fated husbands, and assumption of additional minor roles like nosy neighbours etc.

After interval we are taken to the isolated farmhouse location of a murder, “In Cold Blood” gothic style (but less graphic and Australianised) without evidence or in this case a clear motive. “Trifles”, adapted from U.S. playwright Susan Glaspell’s 1916 work of the same name is similarly based on a true story. Although it is ultimately left to the audience to piece events and motivation together, this determination is supported by Helen Strube’s direction and the performances, not so much of the distracted Minnie (Bronwyn Naylor) who calmly sits alone in a memory world while the local policeman (James Kable) checks the house for clues, barely speaking for the most part though constantly engaged in her creation of paper birds, but rather the conversations, discoveries and reflections upon Minnie’s change that come courtesy of neighbours Mrs Peters (Caroline Sparrow) and especially Mrs Hale (an impressive Eleonora Gianardi), who have been tasked with gathering Minnie’s apron and alike to take to her in jail.

Though there are no signs of anger, sound (design by Erin O’Shea) lighting (design Nathaniel Knight) and staging combine to serve as a guide with soundscape feature of songbird calls and birdcages appearing as metaphoric motif of Minnie’s lonely pre-scene experiences. It’s a simple and powerful piece, perfectly timed to execute, but not dwell upon, its commentary beyond suggestion that sometimes things maybe just don’t add up.

Finally, there is “The Stronger” by Swede August Strindberg, wonderfully directed by Helen Strube, which brings us the story of a betrayed, distrustful wife Isabella (Lisa Hickey) confronting her husband John’s long-time mistress (Caroline Sparrow). Again, we see some clever staging tricks as a pair of slippers becomes the mouthpiece of the story’s insensitive unseen husband. And although it is short, the piece showcases the rich, vintage costumes (design by Michael Beh) that by so often feature in The Curators’ shows.

Kudos to Sparrow also for her conveyance of character thought and emotion in reaction when sitting still and silent being essentially monologued at for most of the tension-filled scene without offering a verbal response until late in proceedings. And when she does, in adaptation addition to what is normally a dramatic monologue piece, it is with such conviction as to appear as if a resounding manifesto of sorts and gender battle cry to unite in agency and defiance of definition according to a man or maybe just ponder of why fools fall in love.

Avant-garde provocation is what fringe festival shows are all about, which makes “Shadows of Love: A Triptych” an excellent and very entertaining choice for Fringe Brisbane audiences… not to mention a value for money one, especially given its 3 work, 2 hour + duration. The ‘50s theme might even have you bopping about into the night despite the darker tones on display in each woman’s story, discovery and drama.

Monster reimagining

KING LEAR MONSTER SHOW! (The Curators)

Christ Church Milton

May 18 – June 5

From the moment of entry into the heritage-listed Christ Church in Milton, it is obvious that there is a lot going on in the LearLand of The Curator’s latest offering. “KING LEAR MOSTER SHOW!” is a riotous exploration of dynastic struggles in a post democratic world and Beth Scott’s set design features are almost overwhelming in creation of the aesthetic of the epic 21st century fable. While an inventive iron milk crate and pool noodle fashioned throne sits back of stage, a silver mosaic collage of found objects features as an up-close-and personal dystopian signal to the tone of this far-from-classic tale of Shakespeare’s mad monarch. With ‘A Fifth of Beethoven’, we begin with a gasp from the titular king’s loyal and honest advocate, an effervescent Felinini-esque fool (Eleonora Ginardi) who asks about life before speaking in one of the play’s many tongues.  

One of Shakespeare’s more frequently performed tragedies, “King Lear”tells the story of the old and tired King Lear and his daughters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. When Cordelia, his youngest and favourite daughter is unable to shower him with false affections like her scheming elder sisters, in a fit of rage he banishes her, breaking her heart in the process. What follows is Lear’s dramatic fall from grace – and into madness, alongside the plotting of the bastard Edmund and the honest and gullible legitimate child Edgar of Gloucester. Transformed into “KING LEAR MONSTER SHOW!”, it is a complex, intellectual experience – a behemoth of a morality tale of the heart, that despite its politics, is, as its core, a family saga. Accordingly, the production is all about character. And the characters are distinct from the beginning, thanks to Director and Costume Designer Michael Beh’s rich tapestry of costumes. It is all colour and moment as characters, stomp, prance or mope about in sequined splendour of leather, lace, velvet, feathers and found sparkles. The bold but detailed aesthetic is a characteristic of The Curator’s works, carefully carried through the lighting (Lighting Designer David Willis) in, for example, the signature green hues that hover over appearance of Lear’s villainous eldest daughter Goneril (Amanda McErlean), costuming and even the giant portrait paintings (from artist and designer Ronnie Walkefield) that adorn the walls around us.

Things continue through the extremes of emotion towards a scream into the ominously tense soundscape of interval, before Act Two returns to focus more on the grandstanding self-proclaimed villain-by-necessity Edmund (Willem Whitfield). It also provides platform for the production’s most impressive performances. Warwick Comber makes for a formidable figure as the leather-clad Lear, unable to to give or receive real love and affection and blind to his pettiness and the consequences of playing one’s family members off against one another. The ageing British monarch is one of the canonically great roles and Comber embraces it with gusto as he belches and bellows about in early scenes. As powerful as his vocal presence may be, however, his most commanding moments are in quieter times of more restraint, such as his early Act Two self-pitying reaction against the elements of the symbolic storm in reveal of his inner turmoil and mounting madness. As Lear’s loyal cousin Gloucester, Royal Duchess of the Blood, Julia Johnson is glorious in her interact with both son and bastard son, but especially when blinded. And Cameron Hurry is intoxicating, especially as sweary mad party animal Poor Tom, giving his all as he throws himself about the stage.  

As part of its transformation of the powerful tragedy, the play leans into the Bard’s bawdy innuendo. There are a number of highly sexualised moments, especially from whimsical bastard Edmund. Whitfield is very much a glam rock star as he Machiavellians about in enjoyment of his wonderful vengeful wickedness, kissing boys and girls alike. While the core of Shakespeare’s narrative remains relatively intact, the play builds upon this with commentary and extension of its character’s voices using western, European languages (Italian, French, German, Spanish) and excerpts of poetry from Dante, Keats, Dickinson, Yeats and Eliot. It is a lot and while this adds a layer of interest, and the projections of the translations are helpful, this overload sometimes detracts from overall cohesion in what is a long play of 2 hours and 20 minutes (including interval).

“If you see with innocent eyes, everything is divine,” distinctive Italian film director and screenwriter Frederico Fellini stated. It’s an oft-repeated quote in “KING LEAR MONSTER SHOW!” and an appropriate final comment from the wildly reimagined Fool, a reminder perhaps that, as audiences are reminded by a pre-show projection, ‘There is no future. There is no past’. There is, however, passion, and this is one of the things that resonates most from this work, which is visually dynamic and highly imaginative, even in how its tragic body count mounts. With such an avant-garde approach, however, it is perhaps best seen by those with some knowledge of Shakespeare’s source material, in order to fully appreciate not only its creativity, but its resonance across time and cultures.

Photos c/o – Naz Mulla Photography

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.  

Talkin’ about a revolution et al

The Revolutionists (The Curators)

Christ Church Milton

March 2 – 26

In a rare occurrence, the cast of The Curator’s Australian premiere production of “The Revolutionists” receives audience applause before any members have even spoken a word. It comes, appropriately, in recognition of the show’s bold beginning, which sees its four characters bursting down a fashion runway. While our eyes follow them strutting their way to the end, another appears in waiting, wisely allowing us time to appreciate the vivid aesthetic being exhibited.

It is here where we meet the story’s four fierce females. Three are real life figures: forgotten playwright and feminist advocate Olympe de Gouges (Lisa Hickey) who was executed for seditious behaviour based on the contents of her unfinished play about the former Queen of France Marie Antoinette, idealistic assassin Charlotte Corday (Lauren Roche) and the infamous embattled queen Marie Antoinette herself (Amanda McErlean). The fourth, a freedom fighter called Marianne Angelle (Asabi Goodman) on ‘political reconnaissance’ from the island nation of Saint Domingue (now Haiti), is the creation of playwright Lauren Gunderson.

Although the traverse staging with the audience seated on both sides is something Brisbane audiences have previously experienced in Queensland Theatre’s “An Octoroon”, Milton’s Christ Church creates a unique intimacy that allows us to become immersed in recognition of the stunning, rich visuals that are created by make-up and costumes (Costume Designer and Director Michael Beh). Lush pinks and red mix-patterned ruffled and frilled costumery conveys a clear sense of opulence befitting the play’s French Revolution setting.

The work, which was first produced in 2015, is really a play about a playwright writing a play, the playwright being Olympe de Gouges. And it is at Olympe’s Parisian office where we observe the women’s salons about their philosophies and ambitions. It begins with a visit from her abolitionist friend Marianne, who wants Olympe to write pamphlets to assist in the fight against colonial oppression. As the two talk about their revolutionary belief that a better world is possible in which women have agency over their own lives, they are joined by Charlotte, who is in search of a writer to help craft her final words for the scaffold, anticipated as part of her plan to murder the awful fundamentalist Jacobin journalist Jean-Paul Marat, a leader of the Reign of Terror.

Sparks fly when Marie enters, leading to some quick bickersome banter between the four who are all obviously self-aware of their own varied struggles. Though sometimes a little laboured (meaning that Act One is retrospectively a little long comparative to its taut Act Two), there is a clear celebration of words, writing and the theatre, along with reminder of women’s importance in history. As the characters converse about themselves and how they desire to be remembered, the script gifts us many quote-worthy catch phrases and meta-theatre mentions, especially in Olympe’s rebuked determination to write a witty and wise satiric ‘voice of the revolution’ play rather than a hyperbolic musical about the French Revolution, ‘because nobody wants that’. Subtle and not-so theatre and historical references add to the show’s huge humour. And though things darken with Act Two short, sharp shocks of violence as the women face their fates with varying degrees of defiance, laughs are still afforded in some small moments.

Attention to detail adds to the dynamism of the experience. French revolutionary motifs such as aristocratic wigs are adorned by the production’s tech crew and ushers. Framed posters line the walls with the women’s essential quotes and the pre-show soundtrack empowers with ‘I’m Every Woman’ type sentiments. Within the production too, reappropriated modern songs give each woman a musical motif, most notably in Marie’s ‘Feeling Good’ reassurance and Charlotte’s ‘So What’ declaration of rock star status.

The strong and empowering characters are all distinct and are exemplified to their full passionate potential by a talented cast of women who easily moderate the show’s movements towards melodrama and farce. And it is clear that they are loving what they are doing. Hickey gives her all to anchor things as Olympe. McErlean brings an unanticipated real-person compassion to crazy-ass but sometimes profound ribbon-loving queen-no-longer Marie Antoinette whose dialogue comes complete with its own stage directions. This is especially evident in her one-on-one conversations with sassy Marianne, which come across more like a Real Housewives sort of tea spill about husbands and children.In contrast to Marie’s charming entitlement, is Marianne’s angry championing, which Goodman delivers with delicious passion before settling in to contrasting talk about how much she misses her catch of a husband, a fellow revolutionary still fighting back at home. Roche, meanwhile, invigorates the angry Charlotte Corday with an intense youthful energy.

‘It’s the intimate not the grand dramas that touch people the most,’ Marianne observes in instruction for Olympe’s to find ‘the heart not the art’. The apt words are some of many within the play that sum up its experience, for although its story is drama filled, it is also ultimately hopeful about the power of legacy. Indeed, while its reminder of women’s importance in history is particularly resonate around the time of International Women’s Day, its important ultimate messages about the fundamental role of theatre and culture in history and civilisation, and the essence of stories to humanity are enduring. In The Curator’s highly-capable hands “The Revolutionists” is a wonderful work of humour and heart that only really leaves its audience wondering why the satire is not being more widely staged. It’s passionate, powerful, political and all the rest when it comes to descriptors than moniker the type of theatre that you want to tell everyone to go and see ASAP.

River deep

Vincent River (The Curators)

Christ Church Milton

October 13 – 31

Vincent River is not a location; it is the name of the character at the centre of Philip Ridley’s powerful 2000 one act play of the same name that addresses homophobic-based violence, which can really be extended to include violence against any form of difference. However, even with this knowledge, Vincent’s character remains elusive as, despite dominating discussions, we never see him on stage. Instead, we begin with 53-year-old London East-Ender Anita (Amanda McErlean) being visited by 17-year-old Davey (Patrick Shearer), a stranger who has been following her.

It has only been months since Anita lost her son Vincent in a brutal hate crime and although she is clearly a strong woman, she is emotionally desperate for every, even gruesome, detail from the stranger who found the corpse of her murdered son and now wants to know more details about his life. As information is guarded and then shared, the duo drink and banter through their searches for an end their pains, for Davey has also suffered loss on a scale greater than we at first realise. All is revealed as their shared story navigates its way through accusations and insults, revelations, yearning for love and a reprieving resolution of sorts.

On paper, a 90-minute two-hander of this nature can seem like an arduous undertaking, however, incredible performances mean that experience of the engrossing tale flies by despite its narrative smoulder. Indeed, Michael Beh’s evocative direction allows McErlean and Shearer to give their all as performers meaning that the story is told magnetically, in reaction to each other as much as through their own dialogue delivery. Never off-stage, McErlean takes Anita through the full gamut of emotions during the play, convincingly conveying the grief, disorientation and guilt of a mother who has lost her only son in the most unthinkably violent of circumstances, leaving her with only contemplation of lost opportunities. Then with his slick jacket removal, things switch to Davey’s complexities and the real reason for his visit. The remainder of the show seems almost like an extended monologue from him and, in Shearer’s hands, we hang on his every moment of bravado and ultimate vulnerability. There is a natural cadence to his dialogue delivery that makes him a captivating storyteller despite the disturbance of his recall of the critical incident.

Ridley’s clever writing also serves to elevate the work. While the script of “Vincent River” is dense, it is full of natural dialogue and well-placed moments of silence. It is a tense and turbulent drama in its portrayal of its deep and confronting themes of hate crime, homophobia and grief, but this is considerately tempered by some tender moments and flashes of humour to ease the strain. Craftedness is seen in its revisited motifs that are not overdone in their inclusion. Similarly, too, this production’s dynamic soundscape, including of well-placed song snippets, is not overdone. Bethany Scott’s evocative lighting design and shadows are used to effect for emphasis, though transitions are occasionally abrupt. And the contrast of Michael Beh’s set design of a dingy apartment against a vibrant backdrop, is impressive, especially in such an intimate venue as Milton’s Christ Church.

“Vincent River” is gripping theatre. Its execution is almost claustrophobically taut, meaning that its experience is harrowingly emotional, in the way that good stories often are. The fact that it comes with important messages around marginalisation makes it another perfect choice for The Curators and an absolute treat for theatre-starved audiences.

Photos c/o – Naz Mulla

Deck the stalls

79939213_10158199950018866_7036287020859129856_n.jpgThe festive season always means a theatre pause and reflection as to the year’s greatest applause. A Broadway break enabled experience of my new favourite thing in Dear Evan Hansen, which is now up there with Rent as my musical mecca, along with other 2019 faves Hamilton and Mean Girls. Closer to home, however, amongst the usual 100+ shows seen, there are a number of memorable mentions.

Most Entertaining

  • The Gospel According to Paul in which Jonathan Biggins brilliantly portrays the love-him-or-hate-him Paul Keating.
  • 100 Years of the History of Dance (as Told by One Man in 60 Minutes with an Energetic Group Finale), another solo show, this time from Australian director, choreographer and performer Joseph Simons.

Best musical:

  • Sweet Charity – the perfect start of year show from Understudy Productions, the little Brisbane theatre company that has very quickly become a very big deal.
  • the ridiculously funny Young Frankenstein, Phoenix Ensemble’s stage version of Mel Brooks’ 1974 horror-movie spoof and parody of both the musical genre and vaudevillian traditions.
  • The Book of Mormon– the ridiculously still so-wrong-it’s-right musical is still the funniest thing around, even in repeat experience.

Best musical performance:

  • Naomi Price as the titular Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity, a role that appears as if written for her.

Best dance

Best cabaret

Best independent theatre

  • Ghosts – The Curator’s homage to great Norwegian playwright Henrick Ibsen’s controversial play was innovative in its layers of scathing social commentary.

Best comic performance

Best dramatic performance:

  • Patrick Shearer for his powerful and precise performance as the bohemian artist son Oswald in Ghosts.

Most moving

  • Love Letters – the heart-warming story of two people who share a lifetime of experiences through the medium of handwritten letters, presented at Brisbane Arts Theatre by real-life married couple Ray and Melissa Swenson.

Best AV

  • Project Design Justin Harrison’s dynamic projection designs represented a key component of Kill Climate Deniers’ vibrant realisation.

Best new work

  • The relatable guilty pleasure of FANGIRLS – like a witty young adult novel set to music and full of glittery fun, complete with important messages.

Favourite festival show

Notable mention to:

  • Rocket Boy Ensemble’s Reagan Kelly for its killer opening monologue chronicle of night out in the valley
  • Melbourne’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for its incredible stagecraft of illusions and magic beyond just that of the expelliarmus sort.