The Weekend Australian - Review - - Profile - Tim Dou­glas

“A lot of peo­ple attack the sea. I make love to it.”

That per­haps overly vivid de­scrip­tion of oceanic ob­ses­sion could only have come from a French­man. In fact, it could only have come from one French­man: Jac­ques Costeau.

It’s been 20 years since the world’s most fa­mous oceanog­ra­pher died, and the an­niver­sary has been marked with a biopic cel­e­brat­ing Costeau’s tu­mul­tuous life.

Jerome Salle’s L’Odyssee, star­ring Lambert Wil­son and Au­drey Tautou, is the head­line film at the Alliance Fran­caise French Film Fes­ti­val, open­ing in Syd­ney on Tues­day and trav­el­ling na­tion­ally. It is one of a host of sig­nif­i­cant films be­ing shown at AFFF (see story on Pages 6-7), proof of the re­silience of France’s cul­tural sec­tor in the face of an­other dif­fi­cult year of ter­ror and geopo­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to know what Costeau might have made of the global cli­mate — po­lit­i­cal and oth­er­wise — but per­haps there is a clue in a sound­bite he pro­vided 35 years ago: “The sea, the great uni­fier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never be­fore, the old phrase has a lit­eral mean­ing: we are all in the same boat.” It’s a fer­tile time for musical theatre in Aus­tralia. I parked my magic car­pet last week (for the third time) at Syd­ney’s Capi­tol Theatre to see off Aladdin be­fore it floats down to Mel­bourne this month; it will do the old switcheroo with Kinky Boots, open­ing in Syd­ney next month. Broad­way big gun The Book of Mor­mon has opened in Mel­bourne; Matilda is play­ing in Perth, the home town of its pro­gen­i­tor, Tim Minchin; while Beau­ti­ful: The Carole King Musical (see story on Pages 8-9) opens in Syd­ney in Septem­ber. There is only one miss­ing piece: Hamil­ton. Re­view heard whis­pers this week pro­duc­ers are closer to an­nounc­ing an Aus­tralian run for the Tony and Grammy award­grab­bing Broad­way smash. Writ­ten by LinManuel Mi­randa, it fo­cuses on the life of Amer­i­can found­ing fa­ther Alexan­der Hamil­ton.

Last year the show’s pro­ducer Jef­fery Seller hinted at an Aus­tralian sea­son in 2018. Cameron Mack­in­tosh is cur­rently trans­plant­ing the pro­duc­tion to Lon­don’s West End where it will open in Novem­ber, and with his strong con­nec­tions here, Aus­tralia is tipped to be next cab off the rank.

All those machi­na­tions re­main to be seen, but the Aus­tralian fix­a­tion on the US po­lit­i­cal cli­mate surely goes some way to al­lay­ing fears the show might not trans­late down un­der. In­deed, Don­ald Trump last year in­grained Hamil­ton in the pub­lic con­scious­ness when he slammed the cast as “very rude” and trig­gered the sort of viral in­famy money can­not buy. Hamil­ton will come. The real ques­tion is: which city gets it first?

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