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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.

The Father is a masterful, emotionally wrenching tale of dementia

ABR Arts 29 March 2021
So much critical discussion of films adapted from plays centres on the notion of the ‘opening out’ of the action and on the ways in which the director and screenwriter have disguised the work’s theatrical origins, the implication being that this is always desirable or appropriate. Mike Nichols, with his extraordinary adaptation of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), un ... (read more)

'A plague on all our houses: How theatre companies are coping after lockdown' by Tim Byrne

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
James Shapiro, in his brilliant book 1606: William Shakespeare and the year of Lear (2015), notes the general reluctance of the Elizabethan theatre to deal directly with the subject of plague, despite its pressing relevance to audiences of the day. He asks if this is ‘because it was bad for business to remind playgoers packed into theatres of the risks of transmitting disease or because a trauma ... (read more)

RUNT (fortyfivedownstairs)

ABR Arts 26 February 2021
A low circular wooden walkway. A large canvas sack hanging from the ceiling. One sickening second to realise someone may be inside that sack, before it plummets to the ground. This is how Patricia Cornelius’s new play, RUNT, directed by long-term collaborator Susie Dee and starring another long-term associate, Nicci Wilks, opens: a thudding coup de théâtre that immediately establishes the ... (read more)

Tim Byrne reviews 'The Performance' by Claire Thomas

March 2021, no. 429 22 February 2021
There is a celebrated moment in Jonathan Glazer’s 2004 film Birth when Nicole Kidman enters a theatre late and sits down to watch a performance of Wagner’s Die Walküre. The camera remains on her perturbed features for two whole minutes. This image kept recurring as I read Claire Thomas’s new novel, The Performance. In it, three women sit and watch a production of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Da ... (read more)

Tim Byrne reviews 'Boy on Fire: The young Nick Cave' by Mark Mordue

January–February 2021, no. 428 16 December 2020
At one point in Boy on Fire, music critic Mark Mordue’s strange, hybrid biography and social history of the early years and musical development of singer–songwriter Nick Cave, Mordue describes his subject as ‘the nominal ship’s captain, a drug-spun Ahab running amok on stage and off’. It is a typically sharp image, but it may reveal more than was intended; for all that Cave is Mordue’s ... (read more)

Tim Byrne reviews 'Ratched' (Netflix)

ABR Arts 21 September 2020
How, precisely, does a character unmoor itself from its source material? And how concerned should we be to track its progress – or should that be retrace its steps? These questions bugged me as I admittedly devoured Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series, Ratched. Ostensibly a prequel, it re-contextualises and re-packages the unforgettable villain Nurse Ratched from Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over ... (read more)

Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration

ABR Arts 29 April 2020
Late into Take Me to the World, the live-streamed isolation concert to celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s ninetieth birthday, Nathan Lane quips that the composer has ‘been so under-appreciated all these years. I can’t believe there’s never been a tribute to this unsung musical genius.’ It’s a delicious routine, because every fan of the indisputable master of the American musical knows just h ... (read more)

Tim Byrne reviews 'How I Learnt to Act: On the way to not going to drama school' by Francis Greenslade

March 2020, no. 419 24 February 2020
It’s perhaps a dubious thought, but the life of an actor invariably triggers something prurient in the audience, some desperate need to peer past the mask, to see beyond the curtain. Books by and about actors indulge this prurience, whether or not they are intended to. Works like Konstantin Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares (1936) or Stella Adler’s The Art of Acting (2000) deal academically w ... (read more)

Torch the Place (Melbourne Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 17 February 2020
When attempting to cajole a compulsive hoarder into cleaning up, it’s advisable to start with the things worth keeping, but it shouldn’t distract us from taking out the trash. Ubiquitous television and print personality Benjamin Law’s first foray into playwriting, Torch the Place, is one of four new works appearing in NEXT STAGE Originals, Melbourne Theatre Company’s new commissioning ende ... (read more)

Kiss of the Spider Woman (Melbourne Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 25 November 2019
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)