“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?