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December 14, 2017

The Best of 2017

Filed under: 2017,Archive,Current

“When you hear music,“ jazz saxophonist Eric Dolphy once remarked, “After it’s over, it’s gone, in the air. You can never capture it again.”

In varying degrees that is true of all live performances. They have their moment, their season and then are gone. Sometimes they remain vivid, but eventually, even excellent productions and outstanding performances drift into imperfect recollection and generalised hearsay. Maggie Smith once remarked- “Every performance is a ghost.”

I hope this website, for all its sometimes unwelcome opinions, is a useful record of some of the notable activity in Adelaide this year.

I want to thank all the companies and creatives who have generously invited me to performances in 2017 and to acknowledge your continuing commitment and achievement.

It is always hard to create good work and these are especially difficult times in which to operate. It was the esteemed Broadway director, Harold Clurman who remarked – “people ask me why the theatre is mediocre. And I say art is mediocre when the country is mediocre.”

That may be an overstatement but the past several years have been disastrous for imaginative work to thrive. Australia Council funding was imperiously intercepted by Senator Brandis in 2015 and has only recently been partially returned by Senator Fifield.

In that time of needless stringency and uncertainty many artists were broken on the wheel and reputable companies hit the wall.
Given such deliberate undermining of Australian creativity, the achievements of our artists, operating in such hostile conditions, are nothing short of heroic.

2017 has shown some increase in the funding and encouragement of performing artists in South Australia but it is still a long way short of the levels of support of, for instance, twenty years ago -and there is much more to be done.

Nonetheless performing artists this year have continued to produce original and exceptional work.

Last year when I posted my list of Best Of’s, among the many comments and responses was the vinegary remark- “Who cares ?”

The answer to that question is that I care. And audiences, friends of the artists, and their peers care. Outstanding work deserves to be recognised and applauded. My admiration for all concerned is greater than ever.

Here is a list of my selections for this year – not in any rank order, and by no means all that deserve mention.

Best Five Adelaide Productions

The Secret River (by Kate Grenville, adapted for the stage by Andrew Bovell, directed by Neil Armfield. Sydney Theatre Company).

Mr Burns – A Post-Electric Play (by Anne Washburn, directed by Imara Savage. State Theatre Company and Belvoir).

Rabbits (by Emily Steel, directed by Daisy Brown. Steel and Brown in association with State Theatre Company and InSpace program).

Emil and the Detectives (by Erich Kastner adapted for the stage by Nicki Bloom, directed by Andy Packer. Slingsby).

Switzerland (by Joanna Murray-Smith, directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company).

Best Five Touring Productions

Saul (by George Frideric Handel, directed by Barrie Kosky, with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and State Opera Chorus, Glyndebourne Festival Opera production). Adelaide Festival

The Encounter (based on the book by Petru Popescu, directed by Simon McBurney. Complicite). Adelaide Festival

1984 (by George Orwell. A new adaptation by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan, associate director Corey McMahon. Headlong, Almeida Production in association with State Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Canberra Theatre Centre and Perth Theatre Trust).

The Dark Inn (written and directed by Kuro Tanino. Niwa Gekidan Penino.) OzAsia Festival.

Hotel (Parts I and II) (by Alfian Sa’at & Marcia Vanderstraaten, directed by Ivan Heng and Glen Goei, Wild Rice). OzAsia.

Best Five Fringe Productions

Angel (by Henry Naylor, Redbeard Productions featuring Avital Lvova. Holden Street Theatres). Adelaide Fringe

Scorch (by Stacey Gregg, featuring Amy McAllister. Holden Street Theatres.) Adelaide Fringe

Coral Browne : This F***ing Lady (Written directed by Maureen Sherlock and featuring Genevieve Mooy. German Club.) Adelaide Fringe.

Acrobat (Jo Lancaster and Simon Yates. Royal Croquet Club. ) Adelaide Fringe.

Hannah Gadsby (Garden of Unearthly Delights.) Adelaide Fringe.

Best Five Cabaret Productions

The Sound of Falling Stars (Devised by Robyn Archer. Performed by Cameron Goodall, George Butrumlis, Enio Pozzebon.) Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Michael Feinstein – Sinatra and Friends (Adelaide Cabaret Festival)

Brel – The Immortal Troubadour (directed by Ali McGregor) Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Ancient Rain – Paul Kelly and Camille O’Sullivan with Feargal Murray. Directed by Chris Drummond, Brink Productions. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Variety Gala Performance. Adelaide Cabaret Festival.

Best Five Lead Performances (Female)

Miranda Daughtry (A Doll’s House, a new adaptation by Elena Carapetis, directed by Geordie Brookman. State Theatre Company.)

Nadia Rossi (Sista Girl by Elena Carapetis and Alexis West. Directed by Kyle Morrison. State Theatre Company.)

Jude Henshall (Angelique by Isthisyours, directed by Tessa Leong. Isthisyours ?, Insite Arts and Adelaide Festival Centre.)

Elizabeth Hay (Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner adapted for the stage by Nicki Bloom, directed by Andy Packer. Slingsby).

Sandy Gore (Switzerland (by Joanna Murray-Smith, directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company).

Best Supporting Performances (Female)

Louisa Mignone (Angelique by Isthisyours, directed by Tessa Leong. Isthisyours ?, Insite Arts and Adelaide Festival Centre.)

Rachel Burke (Macbeth by William Shakespeare, directed by Geordie Brookman, State Theatre Company.)

Tilda Cobham-Hervey (Vale by Nicki Bloom, directed by Geordie Brookman, State Theatre Company)

Ningali Lawford-Wolf (The Secret River by Kate Grenville, adapted for the stage by Andrew Bovell, directed by Neil Armfield. Sydney Theatre Company).

Georgia Adamson (The Secret River by Kate Grenville, adapted for the stage by Andrew Bovell, directed by Neil Armfield. Sydney Theatre Company).

Best Five Lead Performances (Male)

Nathaniel Dean (The Secret River by Kate Grenville, adapted for the stage by Andrew Bovell, directed by Neil Armfield. Sydney Theatre Company).

Mitchell Butel (Mr Burns – A Post-Electric Play (by Anne Washburn, directed by Imara Savage. State Theatre Company and Belvoir).

Nathan O’Keefe (Macbeth by William Shakespeare, directed by Geordie Brookman, State Theatre Company.)

Matt Crook (Switzerland (by Joanna Murray-Smith, directed by Nescha Jelk. State Theatre Company).

Tom Conroy (1984 (by George Orwell. A new adaptation by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan, associate director Corey McMahon. Headlong, Almeida Production in association with State Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Canberra Theatre Centre and Perth Theatre Trust).

Best Five Supporting Performances (Male)

Richard Piper (The Secret River by Kate Grenville, adapted for the stage by Andrew Bovell, directed by Neil Armfield. Sydney Theatre Company).

Peter Carroll (Macbeth by William Shakespeare, directed by Geordie Brookman, State Theatre Company.)
Chris Pitman (Macbeth by William Shakespeare, directed by Geordie Brookman, State Theatre Company.)

Chris Pitman (Long Tan by Verity Laughton, directed by Chris Drummond, Brink Productions in association with State Theatre Company )

Nathan O’Keefe (A Doll’s House, a new adaptation by Elena Carapetis, directed by Geordie Brookman. State Theatre Company.)

Terence Crawford (1984 by George Orwell. A new adaptation by Robert Icke and Duncan MacMillan, associate director Corey McMahon. Headlong, Almeida Production in association with State Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Canberra Theatre Centre and Perth Theatre Trust).

Best Five Scenic Designs

Jonathan Oxlade (Mr Burns – A Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn, directed by Imara Savage. State Theatre Company and Belvoir).

Victoria Lamb (Macbeth by William Shakespeare, directed by Geordie Brookman, State Theatre Company.)

Mark Thompson (Vale by Nicki Bloom, directed by Geordie Brookman, State Theatre Company)

Wendy Todd and Chris Petridis (Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner adapted for the stage by Nicki Bloom, directed by Andy Packer. Slingsby).

Wendy Todd (Rabbits by Emily Steel, directed by Daisy Brown. Steel and Brown in association with State)

Best Five Lighting Designs

Mark Howlett (The Secret River)

Chris Petridis (Mr Burns/ Long Tan)

Geoff Cobham (Macbeth/ Emil and the Detectives)

Natasha Chivers (1984)

Nigel Levings (Switzerland)

Best Five Music and Sound Designs

Iain Grandage (The Secret River)

Quincy Grant (Emil and the Detectives )

Alice Keath (Angelique)

Mario Spate (Rabbits)

Hilary Kleinig and Andrew Howard (Vale)

Best Five Classical Music Performances

Eighth Blackbird (Musica Viva, Adelaide Festival)

Adelaide Chamber Singers, Magnificent (Christie Anderson , conductor)

Adelaide Chamber Singers, Messiah, Carl Crossin conductor)

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Morgans International Piano Series)

Alexander Gavrylyuk (Morgans International Piano Series)

Best Five Touring Music Performances

Bill Frisell (Adelaide Cabaret Festival)

Mercan Dede (Adelaide Fringe)

Mercedes Peon (Womadelaide)

Sudha Ragunathan (Womadelaide)

James Taylor (Botanic Park)

Five Most Intriguing Performances

Richard III (Schaubuhne Berlin, directed by Thomas Ostermeier). Adelaide Festival

Angelique by Isthisyours? directed by Tessa Leong. Isthisyours?, Insite Arts and Adelaide Festival Centre.)

The End- A Vocaloid Opera (Keiichiro Shibuya + Hatsune Miku) OzAsia

Meeting Points : Scary Beauty (Keiichiro Shibuya featuring Skeleton AI Robot) OzAsia

Wot No Fish (Writer /performer Danny Braverman, bread&circuses) Adelaide Festival

Productions/Events I Regret Not Seeing

Fairweather (written by Erik Griswold, featuring Zephyr Quartet) OzAsia

The Conspirators (Red Phoenix)

Brideshead Revisited (Independent Theatre)

E Bully (True North Theatre Ensemble, directed by Alirio Zavarce)
Dream Big Festival

Unsound Adelaide

Vitalstatistix Adhocracy program

The Firm

(And the return of Windmill’s Big Bad Wolf )

Best wishes for 2018.

2 Comments »

  1. What an amazing list of performance, Murray. Adelaide is so fortunate.

    Comment by David Jacks — December 14, 2017 @ 6:58 pm

  2. Hi Murray,
    I was wondering if you will continue to write these great reviews through the Adelaide Fringe again this year? If so, is there a way I can get in contact with you to inform you about a show I am involved with?

    Thank you kindly,
    Georgia

    Comment by Georgia Walkden — January 9, 2018 @ 4:20 am

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