Tim Byrne

Come Rain or Come Shine 

by
27 June 2022

English Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro has had several works translated into film – notably The Remains of the Day (1993) and Never Let Me Go (2010) – but Melbourne Theatre Company’s Come Rain or Come Shine is the first stage musical based on his work. One of five short stories on the theme of music and nightfall that make up the collection Nocturnes (2009), it’s an odd little tale of friendship and failure that careens from the gently elegiac to the outright farcical, like F. Scott Fitzgerald via Michael Frayn.

... (read more)

Hamlet 

by
13 May 2022

Back in 1991, Bell Shakespeare opened their very first season with Hamlet, starring John Polson and directed by John Bell himself; it deliberately highlighted the Australian vernacular, almost over-emphasising the flat vowel sounds and local cadences over the fruitier delivery we inherited from the British. It had a gritty contemporary setting, and garishly over-the-top costumes. It also wasn’t very good.

... (read more)

An American in Paris 

by
21 March 2022

It is called An American in Paris, but perhaps a more apt title would be The Americans in Paris. Not because the story is about two ex-servicemen who decide to ditch the victory parades back home and stay in a recently occupied city that is in desperate need of revival; but because the show itself is a triumph of the American musical as an art form, a kind of staking out of territory. It is, in its own way, an act of cultural imperialism, a banishment of old conventions in favour of something shiny and new. Proof of this comes deep into the second act, when a French character who fancies himself ‘a song and dance man’ suddenly launches into a fully fledged tap routine that ends with a high-kicking chorus line straight out of Radio City Music Hall. We are still in Paris, right?

... (read more)

Fun Home 

by
14 February 2022

Vladimir Nabokov, in his exquisite autobiographical work Speak, Memory (1967), says that ‘the prison of time is spherical and without exits’. It is an idea that animates Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron’s musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home (2006), moving as it does in circular motions, enfolding its characters in an endless orbital spin through the years. Perhaps memory itself is like this, forever returning to our consciousness the painful and joyous things we’d thought we’d left behind, like moons in retrograde. It is no accident that the show’s opening number is titled ‘It All Comes Back’.

... (read more)

For nearly forty years, Joel and Ethan Coen – à la the Coen brothers – have been inseparable, operating as a directorial dyad since their 1984 début Blood Simple. But the recent release of The Tragedy of Macbeth, directed solely by Ethan Coen, marks the first solo venture by one of the brothers. In today’s episode, Tim Byrne reads his essay 'Coen it alone', a deep dive into the Coen brothers’ universe. As he writes, 'It seems a good time to drill down into the brothers’ quintessence: what is a Coen brothers’ film, and what could or should we expect from a Coen brother film? Is the zygote finally subdividing?'

Tim Byrne is a freelance writer and theatre critic for Australian Book Review and Time Out Melbourne. He is currently working on a novel.

... (read more)

Coen it alone

by
21 December 2021

They have always been inseparable in the public imagination, the Coen brothers, a zygotic artistic collaboration with an almost primal indivisibility. While for years Joel was credited as director and Ethan as producer, this was due entirely to a quirk in the Directors Guild of America that disallowed duel directorial credits, unless members were an ‘established duo’. This became official in 2004: they are now the established duo of commercial film – one would have to go back to Powell and Pressburger to find a cinematic partnership of such richness and breadth. With the release of Joel’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, the first film directed solely by one brother, it seems a good time to drill down into the brothers’ quintessence: what is a Coen brothers’ film, and what could or should we expect from a Coen brothers film? Is the zygote finally subdividing?

... (read more)

A tribute to Stephen Sondheim

by
29 November 2021

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to witness the extinguishing of a genius who not only defined an era or a movement but also ruptured an art form. Virtually nothing of Shakespeare’s death is recorded, so we are left to invent the dying of that light. Mozart’s funeral was infamously desultory, and Tolstoy’s swamped by paparazzi as much as by the peasantry. Stephen Sondheim, the single greatest composer and lyricist the musical theatre has ever known, died at his home in Connecticut on 26 November, and we who loved him feel the loss like a thunderbolt from the gods. Not because we’re shocked – he was ninety-one after all – but simply because we shall not see his like again.

... (read more)

As You Like It 

Melbourne Theatre Company
by
22 November 2021

As is often the case with Shakespeare, theories and counter-theories about the provenance of As You Like It (probably 1599 or early 1600) have floated around for centuries. One such theory posits that the play is Love’s Labour’s Won, the ‘lost’ sequel – or more accurately second part of a literary diptych – to Love’s Labour’s Lost (1595–96) and that As You Like It is actually the play’s subtitle. This would align with Shakespeare’s finest comedy, Twelfth Night, which has the subtitle What You Will. Take that as you like it and make of it what you will.

... (read more)

Lifespan of a Fact 

Melbourne Theatre Company
by
24 May 2021

Over the past decade or so, the centrality of fact in journalism, in political discourse, and in long-form non-fiction writing itself has taken a hit. The days are long gone when readers of The Washington Post could have confidence that the journalists who broke open Watergate had not only done due diligence but had chased every fact down the rabbit hole of governmental corruption. Now readers tend to gravitate to media organisations that confirm their own bias and dismiss the others as hubs of half-truths and outright lies. But what if the facts obscured rather than revealed the heart of a story? What if the facts got in the way of the mood, the texture, and the feeling of a real-life event? Is there any justification for deliberate or poetic inaccuracy in non-fiction? Lifespan of a Fact, a new play currently being presented by the Melbourne Theatre Company, has us wondering.

... (read more)

Over the past year the pandemic has devastated the performing arts in Australia. Theatre especially has been adversely impacted. In today’s episode, theatre critic and ABR regular Tim Byrne looks at how theatre organisations are coping now that venues are beginning to reopen. He interviews a range of artistic directors spanning Melbourne Theatre Company’s departing Brett Sheehy, Queensland Theatre Lee Lewis, Malthouse Theatre’s Matthew Lutton, and many more.

... (read more)
Page 1 of 5