Holding the Man, Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

Tim Conigrave and John Caleo’s decade-spanning relationship was undoubtedly a gorgeous thing to behold. Meeting as school boys in 1970s Melbourne and staying together into the 1990s, their relationship was first documented in Conigrave’s memoirs and later adapted by Tommy Murphy for the stage. 

The coming-of-age story, though one that follows a predictable path once Conigrave decides they should sleep with other people, is potentially quite moving. But Murphy’s script is clumsy, with erratic pacing and hackneyed dialogue that lacks nuance. The cast consequently struggle to connect with their characters, making for a stumbling two and a half hours that feels more like the 15 years that Tim and John were together.

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Richard III, Rosemary Branch Theatre

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Bill Clinton once told Kevin Spacey that 99% of political thriller ‘House of Cards’ is real – a terrifying thought. Whether true or not, Spacey’s character Frank Underwood has clear parallels with Shakespeare’s Richard III what with the former’s ruthless climb to the US presidency. New company Godot’s Watch picked up on the similarity between the two rulers, taking inspiration from the tv series for their small-scale update to Shakespeare’s popular history play. Though the production has some canny choices, the concept comes across as a generic modern-dress adaptation with some pronounced weaknesses.

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