In the heart of Melbourne’s vibrant theatre scene, Monstrous Theatre proudly unveils the world premiere of Ron Elisha’s latest piece, Rootless Cosmopolitans.

This daring comedy, directed by Suzanne Heywood, promises to ignite the stage at Chapel off Chapel from May 15th to June 2nd, 2024. Set against the backdrop of today’s tumultuous social landscape, Elisha’s script delves into the provocative realms of social media, antisemitism, and the intricate dynamics of identity politics.

Anton Berezin

At the forefront of this theatrical exploration is the enigmatic Ira Brot, portrayed by the talented Anton Berezin, who also serves as a producer of the play.

Brot, an esteemed artistic director, finds his world upended by a single tweet, setting off a chain reaction that challenges his beliefs, relationships, and sense of self. With a Jewish convert wife, a confrontational theatre company Chairperson, and a looming specter of antisemitism, Brot navigates a cultural battleground where laughter and introspection collide.

Anton is an Australian actor, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. Berezin is best known for his roles in major commercial musical theatre productions such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Bridges of Madison County, Evita, Once the Musical, Doctor Zhivago, Wicked, The Producers, Cabaret, Cats, Fiddler on the Roof, The Secret Garden and many others. His film and television work has included roles in Newton’s Law, The Divorce, Jack Irish: Black Tide, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Neighbours, MDA and The Secret Life of Us.

Can you tell me about your history with performing?

Anton: I started on the stage when I was 7. My first professional gigs were as a juvenile with the Australian Ballet while I was studying ballet at the National Theatre. After High School, I went to Monash and studied Law, but was quickly seduced by the Music Theatre society and spent, to the great chagrin of my parents, substantially more time doing shows that doing homework. By the time I was 20 I’d started auditioning for professional musicals and had my adult debut in a very auspicious production of Sondheim’s Follies as part of the Melbourne International Festival back in 1993. Follies starred a “who’s who” of Australia’s music theatre greats and was directed by Tony Sheldon. The next year, I was cast as Anthony Warlow’s understudy in The Secret Garden and deferred my university degree. In the 30 years since I’ve been lucky enough to work consistently in musicals including The Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Cats, Wicked, The Producers, Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, Sweeney Todd, City of Angels and Once. I think it must be over 30 shows now, over those years. Training wise…the cart was certainly before the horse! I had had singing lessons throughout my teens and into my twenties, but I initially learned to act and dance on the job. When I lived in London, in the late 90s, I finally got some formal training at the Actors Centre.

Monstrous Theatre is a company that you and your wife started – can you talk a bit about the process of establishing an independent company?

Anton: Theresa Borg and I established our first company, Life Like Touring/Entertainment Store, when we were first married back in 1998. Our friend, Troy Sussman, joined us in 2004 and we operated as commercial producers of musicals, touring family shows and interactive experiences until we sold the business to Ticketek in 2016. We left the business in late 2019, just in time to thankfully dodge the Corona lockdowns. Theresa and I have always loved working together (and raising children together – we have three), so after leaving our previous business, we had somewhat of a void to fill. We both started following our own creative pursuits; Theresa completed a Master’s Degree in Theatre Writing at Melbourne Uni and I did a degree in film. However, all professional roads seemed to lead back to each other. Theresa has been writing profusely over the past couple of years and when it came time to develop and stage her work, it seemed obvious for us to drive this part of the process as well. Our first project was an Opera, The Spare Room, which she’s been writing with composer Jane Hammond. Our first workshop, in January 2023, has now led to a second presentation which is taking place in March 2024 at the Victorian Opera. We’ve also recently been involved in developing several new musicals with more in the pipeline. Unlike our old business, which was all about commercial brands, licensing, and large theatres and arenas, Monstrous Theatre is about developing new work and always giving audiences something to think about. It’s actually been a pleasure to develop new work, without the pressure of overheads that a large, commercial organisation has to deal with. We’re feeling very optimistic about the patchwork, creative life we’re building for ourselves.

How are you going to juggle this alongside performing?

Anton: I’ve always juggled performing and producing. I must admit that it’s been odd, over the past 4 years, just performing! I’m looking forward to flexing all my muscles at the same time again.

What excites you most about working on Rootless Cosmopolitans?

Anton: Ron Elisha, the writer, is a prolific genius. He writes dialogue with extraordinary wit and an astute comic sensibility. Rootless Cosmopolitans is frighteningly timely. Our world, and the arts industry as a microcosm, is fractured into ideological camps with many people incapable or unwilling to see and empathise with the pain of the “other”. Although this is a play about a Jewish man navigating antisemitism in the arts, it’s really about ideas of “identity” much more broadly. It pokes fun at racist tropes and stereotypes, while trying to unpack why human beings are so predisposed to judgement and demonisation of difference. It also looks at cancel culture…oh, and “Jewish Mothers”. Although, it digs into the big questions, the play is laugh-out-loud funny. Ira Brot (my character) has a very complicated relationship with his mother, Freda. She’s long dead, but still won’t leave him alone. Freda disagrees with everything Ira says and does. Ira know’s she’s just a voice inside his head but can’t seem to shake off her relentless disapproval.

How is the play different to past shows you have been a part of?

Anton: Well, for a start, there is no singing and no dancing: It’s an honest to goodness play! Also, I’ve mainly worked in large, commercial venues. When, I’ve been lucky enough to work on a few Independent shows – Driftwood, The Great Comet, Bridges of Madison County – and I’ve so enjoyed the intimacy with audiences. I’m really looking forward to that aspect of this season. Furthermore, this is a piece that pulls no punches. Tt’s entertaining, but it’s not light. Rootless Cosmopolitans is going to be thought provoking.

How are you drawing on your own cultural history for the role of Ira?

Anton: Ira and I have a lot in common: We’re both Jewish men in the arts, both descended from Holocaust survivors, and both have complex relationships with our mothers. Ira’s also a complex man and not perfect. That’s one of the things I love most about Ron Elisha’s writing; his characters are raw and flawed. Ron doesn’t sugar-coat or advocate for his characters. The human beings in his world make mistakes and must live with the consequences.

Can you describe the show in 5 words or less?

Anton: A dangerous comedy about now.

Rootless Cosmopolitans plays at Melbourne’s Chapel off Chapel from May 15th.

For more information, please visit the Monstrous Theatre website.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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