Peter Craven rss

Lacklustre, pompous: Linda Cropper and Philip Quast

Grateful dead

7 June 2014

You would think that Australia in general and the Melbourne Theatre Company in particular would be up to a production of Ghosts. Ibsen’s extraordinary drama of sex and guilt and… Read more

Pitch perfect: Nikki Shiels

An unmistakable glow of greatness

24 May 2014

It’s been a couple of decades since the country saw Neil Armfield direct Essie Davis in Night on Bald Mountain and that was within a few years of Patrick White’s… Read more

Sigrid Thornton: a dangerous Blanche DuBois

Sterling Sigrid

3 May 2014

A Streetcar Named Desire is the best known play of the mid-20th century and it is also (and not unrelatedly) known in an exceptionally famous version. Marlon Brando’s Stanley Kowalski… Read more

Robyn Nevin: not merely good but great

A strange evening of classic local theatre

12 April 2014

Neighbourhood Watch, the new play by Lally Katz, is a story of an old Hungarian lady, living out her last days, making friends with a young wannabe actress and remembering… Read more


A dry spell

24 August 2013

It’s a pity about Sam Strong’s production of The Crucible. Arthur Miller’s allegory of McCarthyism through the dark glass of 17th-century witch hunts in Salem, Massachusetts, is one of the… Read more

It was beauty killed the beast: Esther Hannaford in King Kong

Gorilla tactics

10 August 2013

It was an Australian dream of the supreme New York fantasy: King Kong, the story of the gargantuan monkey who dwarfs Gotham City, the terrifying monster ape with the tender… Read more

On song: Meow Meow and Barry Humphries salute the Berlin cabaret

Ich bin ein Berliner

18 May 2013

It was dazzling prospect, but it was also as exotic and unexpected as you could imagine: Barry Humphries narrating the story of his enthusiasm for the music of the Weimar… Read more

Behind the wheel: Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones in Driving Miss Daisy

The South rises again

20 April 2013

When the news broke a couple of years ago that James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave were to do Driving Miss Daisy (that quaint old tear-jerker directed on film by… Read more

John Gaden and Robyn Nevin portray Reaganite Republicans

Desert storm is true oasis

6 April 2013

It’s funny that Brett Sheehy, who as director of the Melbourne Festival paraded a swag of uninspiring offerings, should have brought to the city, as head of the Melbourne Theatre… Read more

Pompous: William Zappa in the Malthouse’s Hate

Hate crime

9 March 2013

Stephen Sewell is one of the most formidable playwrights this country has produced, and a new production of his 1988 play Hate should demonstrate this unequivocally. It is the story… Read more

Holding forth: Catherine McClements in The Other Place

The allure of the other

16 February 2013

It’s hard to imagine two more different shows, though each has a firm grip on the popular imagination. The Other Place by Sharr White is the first play for quite… Read more

Casualty of the trenches

19 January 2013

War Horse is a show that comes with its triumph trailing before it. Everybody has heard of the famous production by the National Theatre in Britain which became first a… Read more

Comedy tonight: Geoffrey Rush in Forum

Coarse but fine

10 November 2012

It was one of the big events of the Australian theatre calendar — Geoffrey Rush in an early Sondheim musical — and it was darkened by death. Only a day… Read more

Pure theatre: Stefan Stern as Dr Stockmann

Alone against the mob

3 November 2012

It was the one bit of theatre at the Melbourne Festival that seemed worth a glance, but still you wondered: a production of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, the… Read more


A tropical stormer

6 October 2012

The casting of Lisa McCune as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific provoked some dread. In fact this proved unfounded. Partnered with the most charismatic of contemporary opera stars, Teddy Tahu… Read more

Value judgement

22 September 2012

How strange is all the fuss about that single incident in David Marr’s Quarterly Essay about Tony Abbott, ‘Political Animal’. According to Barbara Ramjan, who beat Abbott in a student… Read more

Ladies not for turning

15 September 2012

Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls begins with a group of famous women from legend and history — Pope Joan, Griselda, the Japanese concubine/nun Lady Nijo, the Victorian traveller Isabella Bird among… Read more

A rocky marriage

18 August 2012

It could have been one of the great events in the Australian theatre calendar. Marion Potts, artistic director of the Malthouse, was directing one of the great dramatic masterpieces of… Read more

Cheerio, possums

28 July 2012

He calls it a farewell tour, and if it is then it’s astonishing to think we might have seen the last of Barry Humphries on stage. He has dominated the… Read more

Unfit for a queen

21 July 2012

It would be wrong, as well as sexist, to say that the wonder is that it was done at all. The trouble with this Melbourne Theatre Company production of Lear… Read more

Hysteria won’t help

14 July 2012

With the carbon tax about to shadow the all but terminally darkened reign of Julia Gillard, we have been subjected to a tumultuous and plangent debate on asylum-seekers that has… Read more

Thane in vain

23 June 2012

Not for nothing do actors talk about the Macbeth curse and refer to the play as ‘the Scottish tragedy’ as if the horror of it were unspeakable. Peter O’Toole failed… Read more

Failure is an orphan

16 June 2012

Annie must be one of the cheesiest musicals in the history of the world. The old Depression comic about Orphan Annie was given an improbable facelift in 1976, and the… Read more

Theatre within theatre

21 April 2012

Thomas Bernhard is one of the greatest writers of the postwar period and his novels, with their complex vituperative repetitions, their intimations of an anger so self-consuming it becomes comical… Read more

A glass menagerie  

17 March 2012

Simon Stone’s glass-encased production of The Wild Duck is a showcase for two of our finest actors Simon Stone’s Belvoir Street production of The Wild Duck (often a trickier play… Read more