Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

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.

Scaramouche Jones (Wander Productions)

ABR Arts 20 August 2018
The notion of the sad clown probably has its origins in prehistory; the mockery of pain and sorrow is such an embedded human trait that indigenous cultures around the world embraced it long before it became a trope of commedia dell’arte. Pierrot, with his iconic painted white face and billowing white costume, is the universal symbol for sad clowning. He is sad because he pines for Columbine, who ... (read more)

Strangers in Between (fortyfivedownstairs)

ABR Arts 29 January 2018
Gay theatre, or at least identifiably queer theatre, has never had much of a presence in Australia; most of what we consider canonical has come from overseas. The Elizabethan stage had Marlowe’s Edward II and Shakespeare had two characters named Antonio, in Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice, who are fairly obviously queer. Since then, most quintessentially gay theatre has come from the Un ... (read more)

Que Reste T’il (What Remains?): Robyn Archer, Michael Morley, and George Butrumlis

ABR Arts 13 November 2017
The idea of joining Robyn Archer – arguably the greatest cabaret artist in the country – for a night of French chanson that harks back to her seminal 1991 show Le Chat Noir was inspired. While Archer is most closely associated with German Kabarett of the Weimar, she is no slouch when it comes to interpretations of the Gallic variety. She certainly convinced the French themselves, who made her ... (read more)

Merrily We Roll Along (Watch This)

ABR Arts 03 July 2017
Merrily We Roll Along (1981) isn’t Stephen Sondheim’s biggest flop. That honour goes to Anyone Can Whistle (1964), which closed after nine performances. Merrily outlasted it by seven performances, and of the two shows has since gone on to much greater critical acclaim. It’s the better piece; despite some great songs, Anyone Can Whistle is a bizarre outlier in Sondheim’s canon, but Merrily ... (read more)

Shrine (Kin Collective/fortyfivedownstairs)

ABR Arts 29 May 2017
It is a truism that great novelists rarely make great playwrights; Henry James tried to conquer the boards to disastrous effect with Guy Domville (1895), and writers from Virginia Woolf to James Joyce have failed to translate their genius for interiority to the stage. Charles Dickens, whose mastery of scene and dialogue would seem to make him a natural fit for the theatre, never made a good fist o ... (read more)

Awakening (MUST and fortyfivedownstairs)

ABR Arts 15 May 2017
German playwright Frank Wedekind (1864–1918) was one of those rare artists whose work lies at the nexus of several major movements – in his case expressionism, modernism, and epic theatre – while never quite conforming to strict definitions of what those movements have come to mean. He suggests other, more famous artists to follow, like Brecht and Genet, but can also quite seriously lay clai ... (read more)


ABR Arts 13 February 2017
Unlike Martin Scorsese’s previous forays into the subject of spiritual faith, The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Kundun (1997) – both of which used intense, almost delirious musical compositions to evoke a sense of religious fervour – his new film has no score at all. An adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel Silence, it opens on the intensifying sounds of nature, the buzzing of g ... (read more)


ABR Arts 09 January 2017
For the first third of this film, you would be forgiven for thinking you were back under the influence of the Italian neorealists: largely non-professional actors in a realistic milieu; themes of poverty and deprivation; a child at the centre of the action. That it takes place in India only heightens the effect; it is difficult to conceive of a contemporary setting more dangerous or overwhelming f ... (read more)

Tim Byrne reviews 'The Ring of Truth' by Roger Scruton

January–February 2017, no. 388 20 December 2016
There is a kind of dread in the heart of any reader who approaches a philosopher in the act of pronouncing on a great work of art. Many a filmmaker’s oeuvre and painter’s catalogue have been bullied to death by the schematics and architectures of these men – they are inevitably men – who attempt to explain an artist’s meaning in the context of a particular philosophy, be it political, mo ... (read more)

Follies in Concert (Melbourne Recital Centre)

ABR Arts 26 May 2016
Stephen Sondheim's Follies opened on Broadway in 1971, during his most fertile period as a composer and lyricist; it premièred one year after Company and two years before A Little Night Music. It echoed the plotless structure of the former and the ambivalent nostalgia of the latter, but largely failed to make an impression on audiences. It wasn't the unmitigated disaster of Anyone Can Whistle (19 ... (read more)