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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.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (Malthouse Theatre)

ABR Arts 04 March 2016
Henry Lawson, in his story The Bush Undertaker (1892), refers to the Australian landscape as 'the nurse and tutor of eccentric minds, the home of the weird, and of much that is different from things in other lands'. It is precisely this otherness – this tendency toward the uncanny – that Joan Lindsay exploited in her novel Picnic at Hanging Rock (1967). Setting the gothic tale in a girls' boar ... (read more)

Tim Byrne reviews 'Joy Ride' by John Lahr

March 2016, no. 379 25 February 2016
James Ley states in the introduction to his book The Critic in the Modern World (2014) that the significance of a critic 'depends on their ability to position themselves in opposition to certain prevailing tendencies'. Given the widespread shrinkage of space allotted to theatre criticism in the digital age, John Lahr's considered long-form approach to the art could in itself stand as a refutation ... (read more)

Company (Watch This/fortyfivedownstairs)

ABR Arts 18 September 2015
Shortly, Melbourne Festival will host a theatre company from New York as part of a cultural exchange between the two cities. On first glance, it may seem an unlikely pairing. New York is often referred to as the cultural capital of the universe, and Melbourne is the cultural capital of what one former prime minister labelled ‘the arse end of the world’. What could Melbourne possibly have to of ... (read more)

Sweeney Todd (Victorian Opera)

ABR Arts 20 July 2015
In the argument over the programming of Broadway musicals by Australia’s opera companies, it is usually assumed that audiences know the difference between the two forms. But even superficial markers can be misleading. Bizet’s Carmen (1875) uses dialogue and song forms that are traditionally associated with the musical, but is classified as an opéra comique. When it was transposed into English ... (read more)

Endgame (MTC)

ABR Arts 30 March 2015
Endgame. The title evokes that moment in chess when few pieces are left on the board, when the end is nigh but neither player can be confident of victory; the sense of an ending looms, but any hope of catharsis or resolution feels indulgent and premature – futile even. When the first words spoken are ‘Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished’, we know we are in ... (read more)

Passion (Playhouse Theatre)

ABR Arts 07 November 2014
Stephen Sondheim may be famed for his wit, but many critics over the years have lacerated him for it, finding in it proof of emotional frigidity or even callousness. Reaction to his work largely mirrors that of another revered auteur, Stanley Kubrick, who shares with Sondheim an exacting and interrogative attitude to humanity. There isn’t much overt wit in Passion, Sondheim’s 1994 musical o ... (read more)

Tim Byrne reviews 'Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO files' edited by Meredith Burgmann

October 2014, no. 365 01 October 2014
The German film The Lives of Others (2006) ends with a coda, set after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in which protagonist Georg Dreyman is finally allowed access to the volumes of secret files collected on him by the Stasi. Apart from the sheer number, what strikes Georg most is the utter banality of the information contained within. It is a familiar reaction among the contributors to Dirty Secrets ... (read more)

Tim Byrne reviews 'The Art of Nick Cave', edited by John H. Baker

April 2014, no. 360 28 March 2014
Lecturing in Vienna in 1999, Nick Cave outlined his theory on the nature of the love song. ‘Within the fabric of the Love Song … one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.’ Unless pain and longing simmer beneath the surface of the music, it isn’t a love song at all. What Lorca referred to as ‘duende’ and Cave himself calls ‘an inexplicable sadness’ at the hear ... (read more)