Tag: Matt Hickey

Poppy Seed Festival Presents BLESSED

Dark and dusty divinity

By Myron My

The Poppy Seed Festival returns to Melbourne for its second year, opening with Fleur Kilpatrick’s Blessed , a modern retelling of angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary informing her that she is to be the mother of Jesus presented by Attic Erratic. While her previous work, The City They Burned, successfully re-imagined the story of Lot and the fall of Sodom into contemporary times, in this production there is perhaps too much effort in pushing the religious undertones, whereupon I feel the authenticity of what Kilpatrick is attempting to create gets blurred.


The story follows Maggie and Grey (Olivia Monticciolo and Matt Hickey), who after years of no contact are reunited in Grey’s grimy and shabby home. These are people who are from the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum and living in community housing, who are struggling to make ends meet with low-paying jobs.

While the idea of these two characters being involved with The Annunciation is an interesting exploration of the above issues facing many today, the story never quite gets to making as much as an impact or statement as it should; and for me, if this is a love story, then Hickey and Monticciolo are also unsuccessful in finding it in their characters. While effort has clearly gone into developing Grey and Maggie, the relationship between them doesn’t seem to resonate convincingly on stage and the journey to get to the finale seemed to stagnate at times. Even some adroit direction by Danny Delahunty failed to ignite a spark in the performances or keep the momentum building.

The set design by Luc Favre is a highlight however, and clearly depicts the squalid environment in which Grey and Maggie find themselves in. The unkempt bedroom and the rubbish and clothes strewn across the room are a great visual extension of where Grey has found himself in life.

Kilpatrick may have a deeper message to impart with Blessed in terms of class, love and equality, but unfortunately this production feels as messy as Grey’s bedroom.

Venue: Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC 3006
Season: Until 20 November | Tues – Sat 8pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $38 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: Malthouse Theatre

Image by Sarah Walker


Mesmerizing meta-theatre

By Myron My

Remounted by MKA Theatre, The Unspoken Word Is ‘Joe’ is a play about a play about a play. I think. Things get confusing very early on. But ultimately it’s what happens when actors no longer have a script with which to protect themselves and must face life, real life. It’s about what you do when the shit really hits the fan and find yourself losing control for the sake of your art.

The Unspoken Word is Joe

I will admit it took me a while to realize that this was not an actual staged reading, such was the convincing nature of the cast, especially Natasha Herbert as the “straight” stage director. She manages to steal every scene she is in and even some of the ones she isn’t in. Fortunately, once the off-script action starts, Herbert is cleverly placed in the background so focus remains on the four actors.

Nikki Shiels is particularly wonderful to watch portraying Zoey Dawson, one of Australia’s emerging playwrights (and the actual writer of the play), who slowly and (melo)dramatically unravels as the cracks in her happy façade begin to surface. I recall seeing Shiels in MTC’s True Minds two years ago and her comedy timing was apparent then. With The Unspoken Word is ‘Joe’, she has a lot more freedom to explore this zany and controlling ability and goes at it with full speed.

The two male leads – Matt Hickey and Aaron Orzech – are great as the catalysts and foils to Zoey’s eventual downfall. Annie Last is so wonderfully over the top as the craaaayyyzyyy girl that she does risk becoming more of a caricature than a person until Dawson (the writer not the character) dials her character down a notch with a strong emotive scene between her and Dawson (the character not the writer).

Dawson’s script is filled with hilarious moments, somber moments and honest moments. There are a few times where the dialogue get a little clunky or long-winded but these can be overlooked for the overall brilliance and wittiness of her writing.

The Unspoken Word is ‘Joe’ not a straightforward theatre performance. The meaning gets hidden within the story within the story, and a bit muddled in the meta-ness of the script but then, that is what life (and theatre-making) is like sometimes. It’s not always clear and it’s not always pretty to watch but it’s compelling and it’s something we can’t take our eyes off.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton

Season: Until 1 March | Wed 6.30pm, Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sun 4:00pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc

 or 9347 6142

REVIEW: Attic Erratic Presents DOMINO

Witnessing the fall of man

By Myron My

On its first preview night, Domino – the latest production by Attic Erratic – takes us to a post-apocalyptic world where we meet the last five people left alive.

They engage in a dangerous roleplay game where the lines of illusion and reality quickly becoming blurred, and soon lead to something more sinister…


The lighting design by Laura Harris is, put simply, amazing. Her ability to capture the mood and emotions needed for this production and the shadow play she creates reinforces the overall theme of impending doom for this group of five men. The detailed set design and use of multimedia to support parts of the story all bring the technical aspects of this production to a high level.

However, Giuliano Ferla’s script, whilst able to draw you in to the lives of these five men, is a little confusing and you would not be blamed if you walked out feeling somewhat unfulfilled by the story. Some clarity or slowing down the pace to provide more explanation would have made a huge difference.

What the script – and direction by Danny Delahunty – does extremely well though, is developing the five characters played by Alex Duncan, Joseph Green, Kane Felsinger, Matt Hickey and Spencer Scholz . In the beginning, the men are edgy, jumping around and quite physical with each other, and the set and the “simplified” language being used indicate that humanity has regressed to primal, Neanderthal ways.

As the story continues, the men then degenerate further into the most base level of man with an intensely dramatic final scene. Being preview night it’s understandable that some nerves would be apparent, but for this performance it was Scholz and Felsinger in particular who were most convincing with their characters.

Overall, the fine acting and the superb technical design guarantee to make Domino a unique and engaging night of theatre.

Venue: Industrial School, Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford

Season: Until 29 June | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sunday 7:00pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $18 Conc

Bookings: www.atticerratic.com

Review: THIS TRICK (The Story of Orpheus and Eurydice)

To hell and back for love

By Myron My

Using the Greek myth but set in a contemporary world, This Trick invites us to be voyeurs to a very private moment for Orpheus and Eurydice, who are so in love with each other that the rest of the world is seen as a danger they do not wish to be engaged with.

I particularly enjoyed the contrast of passionate declarations of love intermingled with trivial domestic arguments such as leaving the milk out, thus allowing those simple moments to be more intense. Much of the emotional impact is to the credit of the two leads Penny Harpham and Matt Hickey, and their hypnotic performances.

This Trick

Both were very strong and capable in taking on these roles, and the scripted words flowed as naturally as any spontaneous conversation. The on-stage chemistry and level of intimacy between them was palpable, and comfortably portrayed their characters’ jealousies, insecurities and fears in giving themselves over completely to the person they love.

There is a fitting sense of visual minimalism in this production: the set  is mainly a white mattress and white curtains and some bottles of alcohol. The ethereal environment established by designer Hanna Sandgren is further alluded to with the leads also beginning in white clothing.

In contrast, the dynamic lighting design by Julia Knibbs helped emphasise the passion and enveloping darkness for the two lovers: casting many shadows on their faces and using firey red to show the fierce passion between the two reminded me very much of the related myth of Dionysus and the dangers of excess. The stagecraft and music throughout This Trick is also well-executed and you can feel a lot of work has been done on this by all involved including sound designer Jennifer Kingwell.

Writer and director Kat Henry of Stella Electrika has produced a piece of work that is sharp, witty and real – even though there are times the dialogue does reach extremes, it is perfectly fitting in This Trick. A very powerful production all round, and one that makes you question just how much love is too much love.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

Season: Until 3 March | Tue, Wed 6.30pm | Thu, Fri, Sat 7.30pm | Sun 4.30pm & 6.30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au

Review: TENDERNESS – Two Plays

Teenage years need some tenderness

By Deborah Langley

Walking into the Footscray Community Arts Centre was a little like stepping back in time into a black box, a quiet gymnasium with just a hint of white smoke. Enough equipment to know we were back at school, but not enough to imagine these kids could be in any way privileged. 

Tenderness begins with Christos Tsiolkas’ play “Ugly” – a story of three young people who love each other through epic milestones with horrific consequences. With dynamic physical performances these three actors take us into their world: a world where the boys need to be men – bigger, stronger, tougher – and the girls are either pretty or invisible. 

Matt Hickey embodies male toughness, almost enough to be frightening. This hedonism oozed teenage frustration and complete loss. Supported by brilliant performances by both Stephanie Capiron and Rebecca Mezei (who justified the setting with effortless circus-style rope work), this play was beautifully indirect, weaving physicality and narrative through the labyrinth of the teenage mind

In a short silence of the brilliant soundscape laced through both plays, our young boy disappears and new performer Peta Sergeant steps onto stage, offering up a new story by way of a bowl of chalk dust.

“Slut” written by Patricia Cornelius tells the female story of playground games; laughing, fighting, teasing, ostracizing. With the addition of extra ropes, we are no longer inside the gymnasium but instead taken to the battlefield of growing up and finding yourself: who you are, who you want to be and how those choices can affect the rest of your life.

The energy shift from such a strong male sense is a little jarring, but it doesn’t take long for these three amazing performers to hit their stride and pull us into this new world – a world known by too many – of sexuality and the innocence of youth combining to a frightening outcome

Two modern morality plays, distinct from each other in their voice and form, Ugly and Slut are pulled together with some compelling theatrical techniques, that at times are excessive, but give space to raw and powerful performances.

Tenderness– Two Plays

Performing until Sun 11 Sep 2011

8pm Tue – Sat, 5pm Sun 

Post-Show Matinee Forums (approx. 45 mins)

12pm Thu 1 Sep, Fri 2 Sep, Wed 7 Sep and Thu 8 Sep 4pm Sat 10 Sep

Footscray Community Arts Centre

45 Moreland Street, Footscray

Tickets: $20, $10 conc, $5 secondary students