Sian Prior

Writer, Broadcaster, Singer, MC & Teacher

Go Sees and Don’t Bothers [January 26]

I’ve been to a bunch of shows at The Arts Centre in the last week, including some Don’t Miss This Ones.

The Season at Sarsparilla is a Sydney Theatre Company import for the Melbourne Theatre Company, and it’s revelatory. I’ve always been a bit lukewarm about Patrick White’s plays; in the wrong directorial hands, they can seem awkward and self-conscious and dated. But I loved every minute of this one. The set design is ingenious – one suburban house, three families, all inhabiting it simultaneously, even though they are actually neighbours. Live cameras are placed around the house, solving the ‘problem’ of the characters’ odd, poetic monologues – they are spoken straight to camera, like the ramblings of a video blogger sent off into cyberspace.
Acting – uniformly marvellous. Direction – by Benedict Andrews – clear, strong, sympathetic, emphasising the comedy without going for cheap laughs.

Vaudeville X is part of the Full Tilt program, performed in The Black Box, and i laughed till i wept. Wickedly clever satire, from three blokes with great comic instincts. Dunno about Michael Dalley’s (writer/performer/director) politics – i suspect they’re often at odds with mine – but that’s the great thing about satire. If it’s good enough, you’ll still laugh, even if you’re being targetted. On till Saturday 2nd Feb.

Aeros was at the Hamer Hall and if you are old enough to remember 14 year old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comenica winning a gazillion gold medals at the Montreal Olympics, you’ll understand where the show has come from. Those Romanians must be good at handling pain, because this show must hurt. About 20 top-level gymnasts are choreographed into a fast-paced series of ‘dance’ routines which defy gravity. You know those dreams you have about being able to fly? Well these kids can.

Don Juan in Soho is another MTC production, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. Some dubious casting and some wobbly regional British accents undermined the performances in this Patrick Marber play, and quite frankly, i’d rather go and see Mozart’s version. The original story is communicated better, and the music in Don Giovanni is sublime.

And if live theatre’s not your thing, go and see Lust:Caution, the new Ang Lee film. A work of immense psychological complexity and subtlety – deeply disturbing, beautifully acted, and the art department must have been in seventh heaven, recreating Hong Kong and Shanghai in the 1940’s.

For those of you interested in good writing – reading it or doing some yourself – check out the State Library of Victoria’s Summer Reading blogathon. A bunch of very good local writers, including Alice Pung, Cate Kennedy and Kate Holden, have been putting down some really useful and entertaining thoughts about the process of writing – how to find ideas, and how to turn them into stories that people will want to read. And there’s room for you to comment on their thoughts, and join in the conversation about the pleasures and perils of trying to write.