from the editor
NOT long ago The Australian ran a fun story noting the baring of flesh in Opera Australia’s new production of La boheme and Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse’s Baal. In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play got a mention too, but that one was really, really tame compared with Baal, where actors repeatedly get their kit off (Sydney audiences have until next Saturday to catch it if they wish). This cluster is very likely a coincidence rather than a trend, and one certainly hopes so. Because, particularly in the case of the Baal crew, one has to ask when bold directorial vision turns into mannerism. Baal was directed by the lavishly talented Simon Stone, whose work I first encountered when he adapted Ibsen’s Little Eyolf into the compelling The Only Child. Much drama took place in a bath. Nakedness was involved. Then I saw the brilliant Thyestes, a contemporary riff on the gory old legend. Nudity was involved. And now Baal. The thing is, nudity is quite memorable on stage. It is still, even in these seen-it-all times, a big gesture. So when the gesture is repeated and repeated, its force can be weakened. Ditto when Benedict Andrews gives us yet another vision of a world dominated by in-your-face electronic media and-or surveillance cameras (his forthcoming Marriage of Figaro is set in a gated community, so it’s a fair bet CCTV will come into play). I liked Baal more than many friends did and have deep admiration for Stone and Andrews, but I am probably not the only regular theatregoer hoping to see not what they will do again, but what they will do next.