If you equate Shakespeare with stuffiness, shame on you. “[Shakespeare’s] theatre was not like our theatre, which has become almost church-like,” says Bell Shakespeare director Damien Ryan. “Shakespeare’s plays suggest a fleshier, messier, more humane atmosphere. He offered a dish that fed groundlings and the court elite in the same serving, which is some feat.” And Hamlet is one of the fleshiest, messiest tales of all. Murder, self-loathing, and incest? All in a day’s work for the angsty Prince of Denmark. Lucky he can see the funny side. “He is among the funniest characters ever written,” says Ryan. “He can make jokes to the bitter end.” This production from Bell Shakespeare features tight direction from Ryan, plus stellar performances from Josh McConville, Matilda Ridgway and the Bell Shakespeare alumni. Just don’t channel Hamlet’s dithering when you’re at the box office: to go or not to go is a no-brainer.
State Theatre Centre of WA, August 12-15.
Astral bigamy, eh? We’re listening. Noel Coward, the flamboyant British playwright with razor-sharp wit, penned this piece about what happens when a great love continues to haunt us. Literally. “Our Black Swan Theatre Company is really hitting its straps and producing great shows,” says Warwick Hemsley. “Blithe Spirit is a clever comedy with direction by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and set by the highly regarded Bryan Woltjen. It’s a must-see.” Expect a cracking night out.
State Theatre Centre, July 18-August 9.
Nobody puts Baby in a corner. Er, unless it’s in the westernmost corner of Australia, that is. The theatrical production of the defining 80s film is finally coming to Perth, and Wendy Martin can’t wait. “The Sydney-based choreographer Kate Champion created the dance for this feelgood show with great songs,” she says. Kirby Burgess, who plays Baby, says the audience is so much part of the story, they deserve their own bill. “They hoot and holler, cry and laugh,” she says. And the infamous lift? “I won’t lie – it’s hard!” Kirby admits. “But we trust each other, and the pay-off every night is worth all the blood, sweat and tears.” Oh, and the inside word from Martin: “Kate is stepping down as artistic director of Force Majeure, the company she founded, and Danielle Micich, who was at Steps Youth Dance Company in Perth, will be leading the company from next year. An exciting move.” Crown Theatre, August 2-30.
Think footy and the arts don’t mix? Ahilan Ratnamohan flouts your logic. In solo piece SDS1, the Sri Lankan-Australian exhibits the kind of stamina and graceful athleticism that could only come from having the body (and experience) of a professional sportsman, plus the heart of an artist. “This is one of the most extraordinary pieces of theatre I have ever seen,” says Amy Barrett-Lennard. “Ahilan, a former professional football [soccer] player, leads the audience through a very physical performance, with all the surreal, visceral and poetic qualities of a highly charged sporting match.” As he moves his sinewy frame and interacts with the audience, Ahilan reveals the vulnerability that hides under the heroic posturing of athletes – the bizarre reality of being at the mercy of a scoreboard, where a set of flickering numbers can lead to love, reverence, or hatred. He portrays the sport in its most stripped-back form, where the player is played by the game itself. You may never watch the World Cup the same way again. PICA, September 23-26.
Photography Ashley de Prazer
We are Angry
The Blue Room Theatre was tight-lipped about We Are Angry, the latest offering from local theatre troupe The Last Great Hunt, but Amy Barrett-Lennard assures us they’re onto something special, tipping it as one of the best performances of the upcoming season. “It will be an interesting departure for them as they take on Australia’s own human rights issues and Taylor Swift, in one go!” she says. The septet of theatre makers has fast earned a reputation for making bold original productions since their inception in late 2013. Add this one to your calendar, stat. Blue Room Theatre, August 11-29.
Photography Jamie Breen