Perth is a veritable hotbed of theatre activity with new productions opening just about every week in 2014. This is a blessing for artists, producers, venue managers and audiences, but when it comes time to take a look back at everything that has crossed Perth’s stages at the end of the year, picking the top productions of 2014 becomes a daunting task. But here’s our attempt at rounding up the best of the best.
Laughter On The 23rd Floor – Black Swan State Theatre Company. This laugh-until-you-cry comedy had it all: an outrageously funny script by Neil Simon, an impeccable ensemble cast of Perth’s best actors, a tour de force lead comedic performance (Peter Rowsthorn), and high-calibre production values. The result was a knock-out production that topped the BSSTC season.
Eight Gigabytes Of Hardcore Pornography – Perth Theatre Company. PTC had a stellar year without a single weak production in its line-up, and 8GB epitomised what PTC does best, presenting contemporary works that push the envelope and provoke. Cleverly written by Declan Greene, it was fearless, intimate and topical, and truthfully performed by Andrea Gibbs and Steve Rogers.
Giving Up The Ghosts – The Blue Room Theatre. Never doubt that good writing can make a show about suicide bearable and beautiful. Sarah Young’s sensitive writing, Joe Lui’s careful directorial touch and Paul Grabovac and Georgia Kings subtle performances turned this true story of two people that met online in a mission to kill themselves together something wondrous to behold.
Overexposed – Performing Lines WA. Danielle Micich and Humphrey Bower paired up for an unusually structured dance theatre performance that told the story of a woman detained and interrogated at the Bali airport. Audiences participated in a social/artistic experiment about who controls the narrative in our collective reality, resulting in a thinky yet visceral piece.
Point & Shoot: A New Musical – Fringe World/Holland Street Productions. A pair of young writers, Robert Woods and Tyler Jacob Jones, took Fringe World by storm with their new lightning-paced, madcap musical, garnering Fringe’s top prize, the Martin Simm’s award. Four performers tackled dozens of props, hats and instruments all while delivering some jaw-droppingly funny lyrics satirising the film industry.
An Iliad – Perth International Arts Festival. This outstanding one-man show from the US starring Denis O’Hare was an exceptional work of art in many ways, and is included in this list because it is a shining example of the absolutely vital role that PIAF plays in Perth’s arts landscape. O’Hare was mesmerising in every detail of this devastatingly profound and compelling piece of theatre.
King Hit – Yirra Yaakin. Yirra Yaakin goes from strength to strength, and this story based on the life of Geoffrey Narkle is an important work in the company’s important history. Set inside a big top with a superb ensemble cast, Narkle’s life, and by extension the lives of Indigenous families torn apart during the Stolen Generation, was honoured with humor and tenderness by director Kyle Morrison.
Wish – Perth Theatre Company/Night Train. An additional entry for both PTC and artists Danielle Micich and Humphrey Bower, Wish was a sweetly disturbing work that explored the nature of human relations through the story of a man and a gorilla. Micich communicated through grunts and movement as the gorilla while Bower told the story through words and sign language, breaking audience’s hearts and opening their minds.
Falling Through Clouds – The Last Great Hunt. Perth’s indie theatre innovators have hand-crafted another dreamy modern myth with a story about a woman who attempts to bring back birds from extinction and hopefully teaches them to fly. Paper puppets, a beautiful soundtrack, animation and a surreal atmosphere made for a truly magical experience.
Joey: the Mechanical Boy – The Blue Room Theatre/Nest Ensemble. A sneaky last-minute surprise entry comes from one of the Blue Room’s final productions of the year in this wonderfully rendered imaginarium of a show starring Margi Brown Ash and Phil Miolin, directed by Leah Mercer. Margi Brown Ash was a revelation as both mother and psychologist, giving an absolutely delightful, unequalled performance.