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Fiona Gruber

Fiona Gruber

Fiona Gruber is a journalist and producer with twenty years’ experience writing and broadcasting across the arts as a commentator, profile writer, and reviewer.

Fiona Gruber reviews 'A Remarkable Friendship: Vincent Van Gogh and John Peter Russell' by Ann Galbally

October 2008, no. 305 01 October 2008
In 1880, John Peter Russell left Sydney to seek an artistic education and, like many painters of the time, ended up in Paris. Vincent van Gogh also migrated to the city’s ateliers, and in 1886 they met. The friendship that developed between the twenty-eight-year-old Australian and the thirty-three-year-old Dutchman continued until the latter’s death four years later. Russell painted a penetrat ... (read more)

The Curtain (fortyfivedownstairs)

ABR Arts 02 March 2020
A boarding house, late evening. Two elderly men pace fretfully, unable to settle. They are, we learn, waiting for their landlady to return home. She goes out rarely; tonight she is later than usual. Should they play cards? No, says one, I always lose. I’ll let you win, says the other. Then there’d be no point in playing, rejoins the first. Daniel Keene’s play The Curtain is about lonelines ... (read more)

Anthem (Arts Centre Melbourne)

ABR Arts 07 October 2019
Conversations on a train, scene one: we’re on Eurostar and a white woman and a black man, both young, begin to talk. We know immediately that they are middle-class and have prospects; the clothes and reading matter proclaim it. He identifies himself as an Australian resident in France; she’s an English student. They speculate: is the delay due to a protest by the Gilets jaunes? A refugee on t ... (read more)

Arbus & West (Melbourne Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 04 March 2019
'Mary Pickford may have been America’s sweetheart,’ Mae West is recorded to have said, ‘but I’m their wet dream.’ At the start of Stephen’s Sewell’s new play, Arbus & West, West, in her late seventies, wisecracks sexily with audiences around the United States and jibes with her long-suffering dresser and personal assistant, Ruby (played with poise and perfect-pitch by Jennifer V ... (read more)

Patricia Piccinini and Joy Hester, Through Love (TarraWarra Museum of Art)

ABR Arts 29 November 2018
Floating in the dawn skies above the Yarra Valley on November 22, Patricia Piccinini’s Skywhale had her first outing in Victoria. It allowed early risers in the vicinity a brief glimpse of the gas-filled aerial sculpture, a work of art that is rarely seen and that, due to its pendulous appendages and $350,00 price-tag, attracted controversy when it was commissioned for the centenary of the found ... (read more)

Fiona Gruber reviews 'The Arsonist' by Chloe Hooper

October 2018, no. 405 25 September 2018
The language we use to describe fire, Chloe Hooper points out, gives it a creaturely shape: it has flanks, tongues, fingers, a tail. It licks, it devours. Fascinated by its mythic force, we talk about taming a fire as we talk about taming a beast, but when it comes to vast tracts of bush, we can only contain it and wait for another natural force, the weather, to extinguish the flames. On 7 Februa ... (read more)

Fury (Red Stitch Actors Theatre)

ABR Arts 08 June 2018
In Joanna Murray-Smith’s play Fury, a successful couple with a teenaged son are visited one evening by the deputy headmaster of his private school. Joe, he informs them, is in trouble. At first Alice (Danielle Carter) and Patrick (Joe Petruzzi) cannot countenance that their darling Joe has done anything wrong. He is gentle and sensitive and plays the cello, and, as would be expected of the son o ... (read more)

Bliss (Malthouse Theatre)

ABR Arts 11 May 2018
The opening of Peter Carey’s satirical novel Bliss (1981), where the body of Harry Joy lies dead on the lawn while his spirit hovers above, is one of the most memorable in modern Australian literature. Harry’s laconic out-of-body narration hovers like a spare and airy jazz riff until a defibrillator jolts him back into the land of the living, and a newly recognised living hell. It’s not an e ... (read more)

American Song (Red Stitch Actors' Theatre)

ABR Arts 09 October 2017
Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman’s humanistic, wheeling manifesto of the American destiny underpins Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith’s one-man play, American Song, and the collection of poems form the credo and frame the questioning of its central character, Andy. The poems’ exploration of a world of natural beauty, sensual delight, and the limitless possibilities of a young country im ... (read more)

The Age of Bones (Performing Lines and Satu Bulan/Teater Satu)

ABR Arts 27 February 2017
Rarely has the opening night of a play been so closely linked to a news cycle. A press story on 23 February reported that the Australian government is being sued for AU$103 million in a Jakarta class action. The plaintiffs, one hundred and fifteen Indonesian men, were teenage boys when they were held in Australian adult jails or detention centres between 2008 and 2012. Accused of people smuggling, ... (read more)
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