Time Out (Melbourne) - - THINGS TO DO - Ben Neutze


PLAY­WRIGHT De­clan Greene first saw the 2011 film

Me­lan­cho­lia by con­tro­ver­sial Dan­ish au­teur Lars von Trier, he knew he had to bring it to the stage. “I walked out of the cin­ema know­ing there was a ver­sion of it that’s def­i­nitely a play, par­tic­u­larly in the sec­ond act when the planet is ap­proach­ing,” Greene says. “It’s a pres­surised lo­ca­tion and an emo­tion­ally rich drama with a cast of four char­ac­ters.” That kind of con­ven­tional dra­matic set-up mightn’t be what most peo­ple re­mem­ber from the sci-fi art film, which has de­pres­sion at its heart. The planet Greene is re­fer­ring to? It’s called ‘Me­lan­cho­lia’ – a term that has been used to re­fer to clin­i­cal de­pres­sion through­out his­tory – and it’s on a col­li­sion course with Earth. Greene’s adap­ta­tion will be di­rected by Malt­house Theatre’s artis­tic di­rec­tor, Matthew Lut­ton, who is tasked with bring­ing the sur­real land­scape of the film and its global con­cerns to life on stage. Their ver­sion sticks pretty closely to the film’s arc, but the di­a­logue has had to be re­shaped and in­no­va­tive the­atri­cal so­lu­tions have been found. “Von Trier’s films are very frag­mented be­cause of the way they’re edited,” Greene says. “It makes per­fect sense when you watch it in the film, but when you write it down and put it in the mouth of an ac­tor, it really doesn’t.”

The first part of the film takes place at a lux­u­ri­ous estate where a rich but deeply un­happy bride called Jus­tine (Eryn Jean Norvill will step into the role played by Kirsten Dunst in the movie) has the wed­ding night from hell. The sec­ond part takes place a few months later when Jus­tine’s de­pres­sion has be­come de­bil­i­tat­ing. While stay­ing with her sis­ter Claire (Leeanna Wals­man on stage, orig­i­nally Char­lotte Gains­bourg), Me­lan­cho­lia starts swing­ing to­wards our planet. “For the last maybe ten years – but es­pe­cially at the mo­ment – it feels like we’re on the brink of some­thing huge, so­ci­etally,” Greene says. “It feels like there’s an­other ma­jor epoch in hu­man his­tory on the hori­zon. On one level, that’s what oc­curs in the film. If you don’t take it in its most lit­eral def­i­ni­tion as the end of the world, and look at it as a fi­nal jolt into an­other stage in his­tory, there’s some­thing really rel­e­vant in that.”

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