The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Tim Douglas

It’s fair to say Tom Wright is hav­ing a mo­ment. Ear­lier this year, the play­wright adapted Ber­tolt Brecht for Syd­ney The­atre Com­pany’s crit­i­cally ac­claimed The Re­sistible Rise of Ar­turo Ui (star­ring Hugo Weav­ing) and next week he will see ar­guably his most am­bi­tious lit­er­ary adap­ta­tion come to life when Bliss opens at Mel­bourne’s Malt­house The­atre. Tak­ing on the work of a liv­ing Booker win­ner in Peter Carey is, as Stephen Romei re­lates for to­day’s cover story on pages 8 and 9, new ground for Wright, who gen­er­ally deals in the busi­ness of ex­pired writ­ers. Bliss has a spe­cial place in the hearts of many Aus­tralians, par­tic­u­larly Gen Xers, and one can­not un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of the book to Carey’s ca­reer: his de­but novel put him on the path to lit­er­ary great­ness. But will it work on stage? Keep your eyes peeled for Chris Boyd’s re­view in the daily pa­per on Fri­day. Speak­ing of great Aus­tralian play­wrights, on pages 12 and 13 Victoria Lau­rie delves into a new pro­gram of works at Perth’s Black Swan The­atre Com­pany, fea­tur­ing Ray Lawler’s clas­sic Summer of the Sev­en­teenth Doll. The only thing more en­dur­ing than Lawler’s text is the man him­self, who has just pow­ered through his 96th summer. He turns 97 on May 23. Aus­tralia might be in the midst of Archibald fever ahead of the win­ner’s an­nounce­ment in Syd­ney on Fri­day (for what it’s worth, my money is on Nicholas Hard­ing), but on the other side of the world ar­guably our most suc­cess­ful por­traitist is qui­etly gar­ner­ing global renown. Dur­ing the past few years, Ralph Heimans has done of­fi­cial por­traits of Prince Philip and the Queen (painted for her di­a­mond ju­bilee) in ad­di­tion to com­mis­sioned works de­pict­ing Mar­garet At­wood, Vladimir Ashke­nazy and Princess Mary of Den­mark. The princess’s Aus­tralian roots may have some­thing to do with the fact that an exhibition of Heimans’s works will be on dis­play this month at the Mu­seum of Na­tional His­tory in Copenhagen for Crown Prince Fred­erik’s 50th birth­day. Should we ex­pect to see un­veiled a new por­trait of Fred by Ralph? I’m pre­dict­ing a royal flush.

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