MATILDA THE MUSICAL AT PRINCESS THEATRE
A Roald Dahl book was likely the first piece of subversive literature you ever read. In his moral universe adults cannot be trusted and must be punished by children.
So who better to write the music for the stage production of Matilda than Tim Minchin, most recently in the news for ripping shreds off Cardinal Pell through song?
The show has collected a hefty set of awards following its run in the West End and Broadway, and for good reason: clever songwriting, fearless strokes of Dahl darkness, and an enduring story about taking charge of your own happy ending.
Watch James Millar steal the show as the hulking, hammer-throwing, Mussolini-of-the-classroom, Miss Trunchbull.
This is a comedy about suicide and depression. Stranger still, it’s uplifting.
The intimate show, presented in the round, begins with the British comedian Jonny Donahoe’s character as a seven year old trying to understand why his suicidal mother feels she has nothing to live for. He makes a list for her of “every brilliant thing” he can think of: ice-cream, people falling over, water fights.
As he grows older he habitually adds new items. Thousands of them. They change with time, but eventually it’s difficult to think of anything at all.
It feels raw and new on stage, but the show has been touring since 2013 with acclaimed stints at the Edinburgh Fringe and a 16-week run in New York.
The affable Donahoe makes eye contact and interacts with each audience member with a rare earnestness. It feels less like a performance and more like hearing a confessional story – at times hilarious, at others black with grief – told for the first time by an old friend.
In a neatly furnished Ikea display home, a couple discusses whether or not they should have a child.
What is the cost of bringing a new pair of lungs into the world? What are the real reasons we have children? And if you’re aware of the environmental impact a new human has on the planet can you consider yourself a moral person if you do choose to have a child?
“I could fly to New York and back every day for seven years and still not leave a carbon footprint as big as if I have a child,” the female character says. “Ten thousand tonnes of CO2. That's the weight of the Eiffel Tower. I'd be giving birth to the Eiffel Tower.”
Questioning the very ethics of being alive can cause a queasy feeling. This starts to set in at the 10-minute mark when something odd appears to happen to the set. Over the next 90 minutes a vision of a perfect domestic life will turn itself upside down as a dilemma about bringing a new person into the world comes full circle.
Lungs by MTC runs at Arts Centre Melbourne until March 19. Tickets are available here.
REDEMPTION AT LA MAMA
Unsettlingly relevant, this new work by award-winning playwright Anthony Crowley centres on two Catholic priests with a dark secret.
One, representing the new face of the Catholic Church, is sent to investigate his retired mentor, a clergy member accused of sexually abusing a boy 30 years earlier.
Crowley draws on his personal past as an altar boy to examine the closeted world of Catholic priests to ask: how far can (and should) forgiveness and redemption stretch?
Redemption runs at La Mama until March 27. Tickets are available here.