STC brings rare black comedy to Australia

Austrian playwright Thomas Bernhard’s The Histrionic is rarely performed outside Europe, but the Sydney Theatre Company is bringing the black comedy to Wharf 1 from 15 June – 28 July.

Bille Brown - The Histrionic, credit Ellis Parrinder
Bille Brown in the Histrionic. Phot by Ellis Parrinder

Translated by STC Associate Director Tom Wright and directed by Daniel Schlusser in a Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre co-production, the cast will be led by two local powerhouses, Bille Brown and Barry Otto, and will also feature Katherine Tonkin and Jennifer Vuletic.

Bruscon (Brown), a once-celebrated stage star, has taken a spectacular fall from grace and is now reduced to playing shows in a small town in Austria that boasts a higher ratio of pigs to people in its population. A petty tyrant even despite the obvious career low point, he mercilessly harangues his host (Otto) and belittles his own family, who are also his performers. He rails all the while against provincialism, national failure, the vapidity of the young and the venality of the old, the tyranny of the pat and of course the the banality of the present. And also those bright emergency exit lights.

In this translation Tom Wright draws out the gallows humour common to Austrian and Australian humour alike, and comes to this production with a string of memorable adaptations behind him, including Shakespeare’s The War of the Roses, Aeschylus’ Oresteia and, most recently, Brecht’s Baal.

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Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney. She studied communication and media at the University of Newcastle, where she began honing her professional writing and critical analysis skills, as well as publishing creative works in several journals and magazines. She has previously reviewed music and theatre for numerous online hubs including LiveGuide, BroadwayWorld Australia, and Time Out Sydney. Cassie can usually be found in a theatre foyer somewhere soaking up the atmosphere.

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