The Crocodile at fortyfivedownstairs: Theatre review

Elaborate costumes – designed by Dann Barber; constructed by Alexandra Aldrich – play a significant role in both visual gags and satire. I don’t want to give too much away, but some fun highlights include a baroque-fantasy hair tower with a Melbourne special inside, and a rude Darwinian flourish as the artist in the crocodile succumbs to the devolutions of newfound fame.


Woven throughout are spiky hot takes on rentier capitalism, social inequality, celebrity and cancel culture, fake news, the purpose of art, and much more, but they’re so organically entwined in the unfolding absurdity that you’ll be too busy cacking yourself to catch them all.

Gabriel Bethune’s sound design strikes just the right note of carnivalesque menace. It could use slight tweaking to avoid unnecessarily drowning out the actors … though that’s done deliberately, too, to evoke the chaotic overstimulation of contemporary life.

It’s the merest quibble in a production that takes Dostoevsky’s unfinished economic satire and reimagines it as a brilliant, and aesthetically complete, political burlesque for our own times.

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