September 5, 2019
As far as we know, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale’s relationship is rock solid. They’ve got two kids together, have starred opposite one another in a few films, and always look pretty blissful on a red carpet. But that’s not what Sydney Theatre Company audiences will see when they appear together in Arthur Miller’s classic A View from the Bridge, one of the highlights of the company’s 2020 season.
They play Eddie and Beatrice, a married couple living in the shadows of the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1950s, looking after their orphaned niece, Catherine. They’re not exactly living the high life, but they’re a pretty happy family until Beatrice’s two cousins arrive from Italy and unsettle the peaceful balance.
“The idea of Beatrice being played by Rose is enough to want to lure an audience into a night of theatre,” STC artistic director Kip Williams says. “But I really think if you could cast any actor in the world as Eddie Carbone, you’d be hard-pressed to go past Bobby Cannavale.”
You probably know Cannavale from his film and TV appearances (including Emmy Award-winning performances in Boardwalk Empire and as Will’s cop boyfriend Vince in Will & Grace) but he’s also been nominated for two Tony Awards for his work on stage. Byrne is also best known for her film and TV roles, but is no stranger to STC, having appeared in La Dispute and Three Sisters in 2000 and 2001, right at the beginning of her career.
They aren’t the only big names coming to STC in 2020, with Hugo Weaving, Marta Dusseldorp, Wayne Blair, Lisa McCune and Eryn Jean Norvill all popping up during the season. And there are plenty of big shows across the year, including the Broadway musical Fun Home.
Those big shows are pretty important because STC doesn’t have use of its regular home at the Wharf for a second full year. It’s currently closed for a major renovation, which STC says should be completed in time for the company to perform there at the start of 2021.
That means the company has most of its shows next year in big theatres: the 896-seat Roslyn Packer Theatre and 544-seat Drama Theatre at the Sydney Opera House. So for two shows next year, STC is reconfiguring the Roslyn Packer Theatre into a more intimate space by curtaining off the dress circle and building a thrust stage out over the first five rows of seating.
“It’s a big challenge to not have the Wharf, which is our traditional home for doing a lot of new Australian work,” Williams says. “It’s also the traditional home for our more experimental work, because there’s just a greater safety net for that work – to be crude and pragmatic, from a financial perspective – because you don’t have to get as many people in there to make it financially viable.”
So what else will audiences be seeing in 2020? Here’s the full line-up.[…]
Wonnangatta (Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Sep 7-Oct 17)
By Angus Cerini
Director: Jessica Arthur
One of the best Australian plays to premiere in recent years is Angus Cerini’s The Bleeding Tree. It started its life in the tiny Griffin Theatre, picked up a Helpmann Award for Best Play, and then had a season at Sydney Theatre Company. Like many audience members, Hugo Weaving was dazzled.
“Hugo had seen The Bleeding Tree and loved it, and said ‘I’ll do anything to perform some of that extraordinary, poetic language’,” Williams says. “I had in the back of my mind that there could be a marriage of artists with those two, and Angus came back with a pitch about the Wonnangatta murders.”
The play explores the 1917 murders from the perspective of two friends of the murder victim. Played by Hugo Weaving and Wayne Blair, the two men arrive on a farm to visit their friend, Jim Barclay. They learn he’s been missing for months so they embark on a journey across the gothic Australian landscape in search of their missing friend.
“I always think of Angus’s plays as being akin to the experience of gathering around a campfire and having somebody tell you a terrifying ghost story,” Williams says. “And it’s fabulous to have these two great Australian actors backing a new Australian work, because it doesn’t always happen.”
The Wharf Revue 2020: Good Night and Good Luck (Roslyn Packer Theatre, Oct 21-Nov 21)