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Michael James Manaia featured on Beat.com.au

In it's first foray into international collaboration, arts space fortyfivedownstairs is touring and presenting the Australian premiere of John Borughton's Michael James Manaia. The venture is driven by fortyfivedownstairs artistic director Mary Lou Jelbart in association with New Zealand national…

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Glimpse

Facebook. Twitter. Youtube. iPhones. Skype. It’s never been easier to keep in touch; to stay in the loop; to have your finger on the pulse of the world. But in this tangle of technology, it’s easier than ever to turn…

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Simonne Michelle-Wells reviews Rhonda is in Therapy for Australian Stage

See the review in its original context here.

Rhonda is in Therapy should come with a warning: the subject matter is provocative and dark. It’s impossible not to be moved by it, but it’s no easy thing to absorb; with no interval, there’s no chance to escape from it, and at times I felt too provoked, too weighed down.

Is this the sign of good writing, good direction, or a heavy hand? The show is laboured at times. While it starts with a good balance of light and shade, it isn’t carried through the entire production and so, as the play progresses, it does feel somewhat heavy-handed.

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Andrew Fuhrmann reviews Rhonda is in Therapy for Time Out magazine

See the review in its original context here.

Recipient of The RE Ross Trust Playwrights’ Script Development Award 2009 makes its debut at fortyfivedownstairs.

“What is refused in the Symbolic Order returns in the Real,” wrote Jacques Lacan, referring to a patient’s hallucinations described in one of Freud’s famous case studies. For Rhonda, whose Symbolic Order has been stolidly refusing to accept quite a lot these past five years, the return is a particularly dramatic one in this entertaining but ultimately anti-climactic psycho-drama by Bridgette Burton.

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John Bailey reviews Rhonda is in Therapy for The Age

See the review in its original context here.

THE death of a child is a low-rent, low-risk device with which to ratchet up an audience’s sympathy, so it’s something of a shock to see such an incident mentioned almost in passing within this confident play’s first minutes.

Chemistry lecturer Rhonda is in session with the latest in a string of counsellors and the passing of her five-year-old, Jamie, doesn’t rate for much of an airing.

It’s unclear what school of thought this therapist adheres to, but a psychoanalyst might point to Jamie as the structuring absence of this drama – a total enigma almost never referred to, yet whose short life dictates almost every thought and action. Rhonda’s relationships with her gentle, bearish husband Lief, her second child Arabella, and the guileless young student with whom she has a loveless infidelity are all infected by the grief she’s unable to articulate.

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Kate Herbert reviews Rhonda is in Therapy for Herald Sun

See the review in its original context here.

THE pain of loss is sweetened by a little gentle humour in Rhonda Is In Therapy, Bridgette Burton’s play about a successful woman who grieves after the accidental death of her five-year old son.

Rhonda, played with brittleness and untamed passion by Louise Crawford, is a professor of chemical engineering who is driven by her work, compulsive about her therapy, unable to bond with her second child and unwilling to share her grief with her husband.

Ben Grant is warm, engaging and totally credible as Lief, Rhonda’s stoical, good-humoured but emotionally abandoned German husband, who is also a professor of chemical engineering but chooses to stay home to raise their child.

Rhonda’s grief and despair drive her into a clandestine, foolhardy and lusty affair with her student, played by Jamieson Caldwell with youthful exuberance mixed with coyness and blind adoration.

Burton’s script keeps us guessing about Rhonda’s secrets and compulsions, although we do not like or sympathise with her as much as one would assume when we witness her neglect of her living child and loyal husband.

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Katherine Collette reviews Mademoiselle for Onyamagazine

See the review in its original context here.

If the words ‘gothic camp music theatre revue’ don’t get you into a tizz then a) what is wrong with you? and b) let me tell you why it should.

Mademoiselle, currently playing at Melbourne’s fortyfive downstairs, is set in the boudoir of an unnamed billionaress, who has gone out for the evening.  While the cat’s away, her valets play…  everything from middle management, to Germans, choir boys and debutantes.

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Myron My reviews Mademoiselle for Theatre Press

See the review in its original context here.

I was not sure what to expect from the world premier season of Mademoiselle, advertised as “a gothic camp music theatre revue” with two satirical manservants singing tunes about what could have been, but I knew I would be in for a treat.

Our two manservants, played by creators Michael Dalley and Paul McCarthy, sneak into their employer’s boudoir and let loose some glitzy musical numbers revolving around fantasy, regret, power and servitude.  The very opening song relaxed the audience and assured us that we were in for a night of cheeky laughs.

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Liza Dezfouli reviews Mademoiselle for Australian Stage


See the review in its original context here.

Michael Dalley is the real deal when it comes to the Melbourne cabaret scene; he is a sophisticated pisstaker extraordinaire who delights once more with his new work, Mademoiselle, an exercise in supreme nastiness. Very funny and rude. We last saw his talent comically tarring and feathering the world of real estate in Urban Display Suite.

Here Dalley and co-deviser/performer Paul McCarthy present in song the most professional pair of bitchy queens you will ever meet, sad little men with evil minds and a penchant for going through other people’s rubbish. The best thing about this show is how it has a go at two of Australia’s wealthiest, most famous and least civic minded ladies. Recognition brings glee. Music is provided by John Thorn; the songs are co-written by him and Dalley.

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Corey Ignace reviews Mademoiselle for Laneway Magazine

See the review in its original context here.

Michael Dalley’s newest work, Mademoiselle, was the most vulgar, crude and amazing display of comedic theatre I’ve ever seen. Dalley and Paul McCarthy embodied two sparkly, overdressed, flamboyant man-servants that had the crowd in stitches from beginning to end.

Heading down into fortyfivedownstairs, I had no idea what to expect, the promo description of ‘gothic camp’ meant I was in for something unique to say the least. I got my tickets, grabbed a wine and headed in, ushered by a lovely older man to our seats. The audience, which was very ranged in age, gender and level of flamboyance, filled every seat. All we could see from the performing end was a small podium with a toilet in the centre. Lights dim and I’m anticipating a small time, pleasant little show… how wrong could I be? I suppose the toilet should have been a give-away.

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Lucy Graham reviews Mademoiselle for Stage Whispers

See the review in its original context here.

Mademoiselle is a whirlwind of political incorrectness. Michael Dalley’s witty hour-long script had the packed audience in Flinders Lane laughing and gasping in its assault on the “lower middle-class”.

Michael Dalley and Paul McCarthy feature as two effeminate man-servants of a certain Mademoiselle, who get creative in her absence in “an orgy of ridicule” and “a litany of abuse”. The irony of their relentless and superior sneering is that it’s dished out at the expense of their own social class, even as they attempt to position themselves apart from it.

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Farce stabs a rich vein

Liza Power
The Age
28/07/2012

AS A satirist, Michael Dalley has made a career of taking the mickey. Middle-class values, real estate agents, the nouveau riche, his closest friends and acquaintances – nothing is out of bounds. ”I could make a cabaret about the Labor Party or Family First,” he jokes over coffee, ”but it would be too easy and pointless. It’s more interesting to pick apart what you’re supposed to hold sacred.” Better still to do it in a slick, mordant, wildly witty way, which is of course precisely what Dalley is renowned for.

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Preview: Mademoiselle

Tessa Hayward
02/08/2012
City Weekly

Michael Dalley is a self-confessed control freak. He has written, stars in, produces and directs the upcoming gothic music theatre revue, Mademoiselle.

Dalley (pictured above right) and Paul McCarthy (above left) play two valets, or butlers, who are left alone for the evening when their boss unexpectedly goes out. “They decide to use it as a chance to let out all the oppression that has been holding them in,’’ Dalley says. ‘‘They don’t like each other very much. They feed off each other and end up ridiculing each other and putting each other down quite a lot.’’

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Richard Watts reviews The McNeil Project for ArtsHub

See the review in its original context here.

Hailed in the 1970’s as Australia’s answer to Jean Genet, prisoner turned playwright Jim McNeil was destroyed by the very fame that saw him released early from a 17 year jail sentence. Without the strict routine of prison life, McNeil’s violent alcoholism soon got the better of him, and he never wrote again. He died in 1982, aged 47.

The McNeil Project at Melbourne’s fortyfivedownstairs, features two of Jim McNeil’s one-act plays: The Chocolate Frog – a relatively simple work – and the altogether darker, more complex The Old Familiar Juice.

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Cameron Woodhead reviews The McNeil Project for The Age

See the review in its original context here.

**** 4 STARS

IMPRISONMENT and modern drama have an intriguing relationship. Arguably the first audiences to ”get” Beckett’s Waiting for Godot were the inmates of San Quentin, in the famous 1957 jailhouse production. These men were living at the sharp end of the fiction that we’re all at liberty to act rationally in our own self-interest: they knew the ways in which we’re radically unfree.

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Andrew Fuhrmann reviews The McNeil Project for Time Out

See the review in its original context here.

**** 4 STARS.

According to the quotable G.K. Chesterton, all slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry. By this memorable formula, along with sailors and Cockneys, few subcultures can claim to be as poetically fecund as prison culture. Both The Chocolate Frog and The Old Familiar Juice, one-act plays currently being presented as a double bill at fortyfivedownstairs, are fine examples of this.

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Chris Boyd reviews The McNeil Project for The Australian

See the review in its original context here.

MALCOLM Robertson’s connection to Jim McNeil and his celebrated prison plays dates back to 1971, when Robertson conducted drama workshops at Parramatta jail, then directed the first professional production of The Chocolate Frog for Q Theatre.

Two years later, he directed a double bill of it and The Old Familiar Juice for the Melbourne Theatre Company.

These one-act plays combine well. The polemic of the first, which, on its own, might seem naive and too bluff, is counterbalanced by the finesse and tight focus of the latter.

Four decades on, Robertson plays The Chocolate Frog absolutely straight. Thanks to its archaic slang, its references to “the permissive society” and the Latin mass, the play is a period piece. But, if anything, it stands up better now than it did when previously presented in Melbourne in the late 1980s.

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The Prose of a Con

Raymond Gill
Life & Style, The Saturday Age
30/06/2012

DOUG Fields, 55, works night shifts managing an outer-Melbourne supermarket, so he would seem to have scant connection with a fascinating chapter in Australia’s theatre history.

Fields is the eldest of six children of the late Jim McNeil, who is known in the theatre industry as a playwright whose talent burnt bright and fast in his small output of plays from the early 1970s, including The Chocolate Frog and The Old Familiar Juice, both of which are having a rare production at fortyfivedownstairs from next week.

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Prison playwright Jim McNeil's inside jobs get a fresh outing

Rosemary Neill
The Australian
23/06/2012

THE Melbourne media christened Jim McNeil the laughing bandit because he was often amused at how easy it was to hold up a TAB or pub at gunpoint.

The serial offender would chuckle to himself, even as he was carrying out his weapon and a bag of loot.

McNeil was many things: armed robber and cop shooter; husband, wife basher and father; raconteur, recidivist and violent alcoholic; underage lover of a brothel madam, prison homosexual and charismatic womaniser. He was an unlikely arts sensation, but that’s precisely what he became after he started writing plays behind the high sandstone walls of Sydney’s Parramatta jail in the early 1970s.

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The Marvelous Wonderettes

The Marvelous Wonderettes takes you to the 1958 Springfield High School Super Senior Prom where we meet the Wonderettes, four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts! As we learn about their lives and loves, we…

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Mademoiselle

From the talent behind sell-out success Urban Display Suite - prepare for Mademoiselle. Michael Dalley and Paul McCarthy are overdressing and overacting as they storm into fortyfivedownstairs for a champagne cocktail of wit with an extra dash of bitters! A…

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Broadway World reviews The Burlesque Hour

See the review in its original context here.

Finucane & Smith’s GLORY BOX is the latest incarnation of The Burlesque Hour, the Australian cabaret that has gone on to redefine – defy even – the genre around the world.

Sexy, twisted, and at times very moving, I find myself requiring multiple adjectives to capture the essence of this show. I could add funny, confronting and slightly un-hinged, and I’d still only describe a portion of what happens when this GLORY BOX is opened.

In an underground salon of red lanterns and intimate tables, co-creator Moira Finucane’s opening act sets the tone as she devours an apple so ferociously that I might still be removing pieces from my hair. For the uninitiated this might be the moment where any expectation of a traditional burlesque experience is also demolished. And from here the delights unfold!

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Snakes alive! It's the Eve of seduction

The Age
Mark Ellis
11/6/2012

Christos Tsiolkas enjoys the serious and playful sides of burlesque.

THE Queen of Burlesque, Moira Finucane, is also the Queen of Adjectives. As she enthuses about her new show, a tumbling cascade of P.T. Barnum superlatives collect at our feet.

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774 Drive, ABC Radio, reviews Far Away

Sian Prior reviews Far Away for Culture Club, 774 Drive, ABC Radio

See the review in its original context here.

If…you want to be surprised, even a bit disturbed by a visit to the theatre – try ‘Far Away’, a play that’s on at 45 Downstairs in Flinders Lane, written by the award-winning English playwright Caryl Churchill. I’ve been thinking about this play ever since I saw it last weekend. Churchhill is known for her non-naturalistic approach to theatre – she’s a political playwright…politics in the broader sense of power and the uses and abuses of it. The play is divided into three different scenes and as the first one opens, we see a child who has woken up in the middle of the night approaching a woman in a kitchen. We learn the woman is her aunt and the child gradually reveals that she’s just witnessed a deeply disturbing scene outside in the garden. There’s been violence and blood and the child is trying to make sense of it all. And the aunt is trying to first of all explain what the child has seen, but then – we realize – she’s trying to cover up what’s been happening. We see the world from the child’s perspective as she tries to understand adult behaviour that, on the face of it, is simply terrifying. We’re in moral quicksand as the aunt keeps changing her story. What IS going on out there in the garden shed? – we never really find out.

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The McNeil Project

FOUR STARS- THE AGE- read the review FOUR STARS- HERALD SUN- read the review Three walls. A roof. A floor ... And thick black iron bars. The McNeil Project presents two of Jim McNeil’s best-known plays penned in the Parramatta jail…

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See Juliet's side of the story – Stephen Russell interviews Zoey Dawson for Melbourne Weekly

14/02/2012
Stephen Russell
Melbourne Weekly

A CLASSIC tale of doomed romance, Romeo and Juliet is usually performed with Romeo as the protagonist. But a new all-woman production of The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet at fortyfivedownstairs puts Juliet front and centre, focusing on her attempt to navigate through the perils and pitfalls of high-octane teenage dreams.

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A Little Room

It’s the 3rd of February again and Miss Place, Betty and Lana sit quietly, sipping their shiraz. Slowly and methodically the floor begins to shift, revealing the moss and mud below.  A tall crab apple tree pulls out from cupboard…

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