Tim Byrne

Tim Byrne

Tim Byrne is a freelance writer and theatre critic for Australian Book Review and Time Out Melbourne. He is currently working on a novel. Tim is also a bookseller and interviewer, running a series of author interviews at Avenue Bookstore. He maintains an arts blog that focuses on theatre, film, and books.

Kiss of the Spider Woman (Melbourne Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 25 November 2019
Kiss of the Spider Woman (Melbourne Theatre Company)
Argentine writer Manuel Puig’s 1976 novel Kiss of the Spider Woman seems to have shed most of its cultural specificity with each new iteration. Most people know it from the 1985 film that transposed the action to a Brazilian prison, for no conceivable reason other than the fact that the director was Brazilian (Héctor Babenco). The 1992 musical, with a book by Terrence McNally and music and lyri ... (read more)

Golden Shield (Melbourne Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 19 August 2019
Golden Shield (Melbourne Theatre Company)
The great Spanish novelist Javier Marías includes a scene in A Heart So White (1992) where a translator deliberately mistranslates a conversation between two characters who obviously stand in for Margaret Thatcher and Felipe González. He does this to send a coded message to the other translator in the room, his future wife. It is an extraordinary set piece, a serio-comic exposé of the translato ... (read more)

The Film Scores of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)

ABR Arts 12 August 2019
The Film Scores of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
Symphony orchestras around the world, presumably in order to mitigate financial pressures, have turned to Hollywood in the last few years, and Australia is hardly immune. At times it seems that one of our major orchestras is playing the score to another Harry Potter film every other week. There may have been an artistic case to make when the scores came from major film composers like Bernard Herma ... (read more)

Much Ado About Nothing (Bell Shakespeare)

ABR Arts 19 July 2019
Much Ado About Nothing (Bell Shakespeare)
There is much conjecture around the concept of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’; critics disagree not only on the strict meaning of the term – F.S. Boas saw them as works that used a protagonist’s dramatic situation to illustrate a social problem, while Ernest Schanzer insists they turn on an ethical dilemma – but also on the actual list of plays that fit the description. Traditionally, t ... (read more)

Wake in Fright (Malthouse Theatre)

ABR Arts 01 July 2019
Wake in Fright (Malthouse Theatre)
The idea of the outsider is, of course, a concept shared by all living beings; the jellyfish and the silverback gorilla alike have trained themselves to distrust a stranger. But there is something particular about the Australian suspicion of otherness, a ruddy and avuncular mask that hides an abiding, almost pathological, wariness. It’s a national quirk that Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novel Wake in F ... (read more)

Escaped Alone (Red Stitch Actors' Theatre)

ABR Arts 03 June 2019
Escaped Alone (Red Stitch Actors' Theatre)
‘Terrible rage.’ It starts as a question; rhetorical, perhaps. ‘Terrible rage.’ It grows into a statement of fact, an undeniable proof. ‘Terrible rage. Terrible rage. Terrible rage.’ Eventually – in a slow but frightening crescendo, followed by an equally slow but heart-wrenchingly pathetic decrescendo – the monologue (towards the end of the play) made solely of repetitions of this ... (read more)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 06 May 2019
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Sydney Theatre Company)
Elizabeth Taylor played Maggie to Paul Newman’s Brick in Richard Brooks’s 1958 film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; a more perfect sexual promise left unfulfilled was never committed to celluloid. But if you want truly pyrotechnical sexual chemistry, it’s hard to look past Taylor’s onscreen work with her real-life husband Richard Burton. There was something prur ... (read more)

33 Variations (Comedy Theatre)

ABR Arts 12 March 2019
33 Variations (Comedy Theatre)
How many variations does it take, how many iterations and transfigurations, before a work of mediocrity becomes a work of genius? And what about a life – at what point do the quotidian accretions of living come to represent a person’s entire existence? What does it actually mean to live an extraordinary life? For all our continued obsession with genius, with those among us who break through in ... (read more)

Tim Byrne reviews 'The World Only Spins Forward: The ascent of angels in America' edited by Isaac Butler and Dan Kois

January-February 2019, no. 408 26 December 2018
Tim Byrne reviews 'The World Only Spins Forward: The ascent of angels in America' edited by Isaac Butler and Dan Kois
Most of the time, plays are just entertainments; they can be witty and insightful, even powerful and contemporary, and still function as merely satisfying divertissements. Rarely, so rarely entire decades can pass without one, a play functions in an entirely different capacity: these are works so galvanising they seem to presage, if not actually bring about, socio-political change. Henrik Ibsen’ ... (read more)

Twelfth Night (Melbourne Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 19 November 2018
Twelfth Night (Melbourne Theatre Company)
Twelfth Night was probably composed in 1601, and certainly no later than 1602. Hamlet has a more doubtful provenance, possibly written before 1601 but also certainly no later than 1602. It is not inconceivable that Shakespeare worked on them simultaneously, or back to back. What is clear is that the themes and preoccupations of these two works tend to bleed into each other, even while their effect ... (read more)
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