I’m as susceptible as anyone to the lure of awards, ratings, polls and all the other paraphernalia of opinion by which we measure those two imposters, popularity and success.
So, here’s my humble contribution: the Turnstile Award for excellence in theatre in Perth.
|Rhoda Lopez and Mischa Ipp in Scent Tales|
In the past year, I reviewed 34 productions for either or, most often, both The West Australian and this blog. It’s not a completely exhaustive list, and I apologise for the absences. I didn't consider cabaret or comedy, or improv theatre, which, by its nature, is impossible to judge on one night’s viewing.
Looking back over the year, the good news is that shows I thought well worth seeing (23) vastly outnumbered those I’d have strongly encouraged you to avoid (six) – and I’m well aware that at least two of those might feature in other people’s “best of” lists.
By a neat chance, ten productions were of the highest quality in my opinion and, hence, pick up a Turnstile. They were (in chronological order):
|Alison Van Reekin |
in the Deep Blue Sea
- Deckchair Theatre’s production of Reg Cribb’s engaging hagiography of football wizards, Krakouer, directed by Marcelle Schmitz and starring Jimi Bani and Sean Dow as Jim and Phil;
- Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, stylishly directed by Michael McCall for Onward Production, with a stellar performance by Alison Van Reeken;
- Yirra Yaakin’s irresistible 2011 PIAF hit, Waltzing the Wilarra, written and composed by David Milroy and directed by Wesley Enoch;
- Perth Theatre Company’s debut production in the new STC Studio Underground, Marius Von Mayenberg’s literate and adventurous The Ugly One, directed by Melissa Cantwell;
- Also at the Studio Underground, Mattew Lutton’s striking and unsettling theatrical extrapolation for ThinIce of Franz Schubert’s Die Winterreise song cycle, with striking performances by Paul Capsis and George Shevtsov;
- Renegade Production’s ferocious and courageous Laryngectomy at the Blue Room, written by Joe Lui (who also directed) in collaboration with the riveting performer Demelza Rogers;
- The WAAPA 2nd and 3rd year music theatre student’s ebullient and potential-crammed revival of the Gershwins' Crazy For You at the Regal;
- The perfectly miraculous parable of knowledge and love, Scent Tales, directed by Joanne Foley for Little y Theatre, with a transfixing performance by Georgia King;
- Onward Production’s second Turnstile, for Lawrie Cullen-Tait’s auspicious main stage directorial debut with John Logan’s mighty Red, with a muscular tour de force by James Hagan as Mark Rothko; and
- Perth Theatre Company again, for the brutal and vivid Tender Napalm by the prodigious Philip Ridley, directed by Melissa Cantwell and starring Joshua Brennan and Anna Houston.
So, two shows from Onward Production and the Perth Theatre Company get a gong, with three shows staged in the Studio Underground and two each at the Blue Room and Subi Arts Centre. Black Swan is absent from the list, although their Madagascar, Midsummer Night’s Dream and Rising Water were fine productions, as were a swathe of Blue Room shows; Jack and Jill, House of Fun, Anytown, The Yellow Wallpaper and The Pride, which returned in the Studio Underground as part of the Perth Theatre Company season – the production I reviewed.
Deckchair’s Ruby Moon and WAAPA’s Ruben Guthrie and Stalin's Orchard were also notable, and a good old-fashioned time was had by all at John Senjzuk’s Puss in Boots, which closed the old Playhouse, and the Cole Porter memoir You’ve Got That Thing downstairs at the Maj.
So congratulations to the ten Turnstile awardees, and the baker's dozen that cracked an honourable mention – I look forward to seeing the award in all your programme notes soon! Also looking forward to seeing which Turnstile awardees make the red carpet when the Perth Equity Guild Award nominees and winners are announced in a couple of months’ time.