Muriel's Wedding The Musical: Muriel Heslop Gets A New Wardrobe

1. What were they thinking?

Sydney Theatre Company's production of Jonathan Biggins's Talk, a play partially about truth in the media, arrived just as the Trump regime had opened the sluices on its deluge of lies. Good timing! But the play, about a lunar-right shock-jock (John Waters), felt like an extravagantly extended sketch from Biggins's usual satirical home in The Wharf Revue – the difference being that the laughs were in considerably shorter supply.


Paul Capsis brought gothic glamour and grotesquerie as the MC in Cabaret.
Paul Capsis brought gothic glamour and grotesquerie as the MC in Cabaret. 

Directors Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan's stage adaptation of 1984 (for Sydney Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia) excessively distorted Orwell's intentions by spending a wildly disproportionate amount of stage time on the torture of Winston Smith, despite constituting only 15 percent of the book. If this was a misguided desire to shock it was a failure.


2. Surprise packet

The Mormons are coming!
The Mormons are coming! Photo: Jeff Busby

David Williamson's Odd Man Out (at the Ensemble) contained his most compelling protagonist in years: the Asperger-affected Ryan. Justin Stewart Cotta gave a finely nuanced realisation of what it means to be hyper-intelligent and emotionally stunted, often staring into the audience with a confronting expression that simultaneously spoke of emotional vacancy and a brain seething with ideas.


On paper a musical version of Madeleine St John's novel The Women in Black (for Sydney Festival) seemed like adding sugar to honey. Yet although Carolyn Burns' book and Tim Finn's music and lyrics couldn't escape a certain archness and predictability on occasion, they also rose above this to tug at the heartstrings with unexpected frequency. Finn's music was at its best when espousing a cafe-society blitheness, while his lyrics were crammed with witty rhymes.



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