Tag: Nicola Gunn


Brilliant broken narratives and characters

By Warwick Moffat

The highly specific title of this production is just another way for UK theatre company Ridiculusmus to play with their audience. What is being explored goes way beyond schizophrenia, and the relevance is not restricted to Western Lapland, unless we are all somehow Scandinavian. Eradication shows our tendency to categorise all kinds of personal and interpersonal difficulties; ailments any of us might face at some time in our lives. It persuades us to consider whether the medical terms and the pharmaceuticals that we throw at these difficulties only make matters worse. However, there is no preaching; we come to these thoughts mostly through our own observation.


What they have us observe confirms Ridiculusmus as true masters of theatrical method. The stage is split in two by a wall. One side of the wall is a dysfunctional home, the other a dysfunctional institution. The audience are also split into two. Each can only fully see and hear one of these worlds, but can hear much of what is happening in the other. At half time, we swap sides; and so by the night’s end we have all seen the entire game played out. At times the wall appears to be a border between these two worlds, at other times it appears more like a gateway.

Ridiculusmus keeps you guessing throughout. Is one world imagined, the other real? Perhaps one past, the other present? The storyline makes an odd kind of sense, but with a palatable incoherence which leaves you sympathising with anyone who suffers from delusions. Importantly, the players never abandon the audience or stray into self-indulgence. The work of David Woods and Jon Haynes shows twenty years of anarchic playwriting. They know how to break shackles without breaking audiences.

As Therapist and Patient respectively, Woods and Haynes play their own work with distinction. As both writers and performers, they give their fellow players plenty of opportunity to deliver. As the patient’s brother, Ben Grant was heartbreakingly defenceless as an adolescent exposed to emotional abuse. As the narcissistic mother, Nicola Gunn deftly exposes the kind of splintering of the soul that would drive a parent to splinter their family.

Dates: Wed 12th to Sunday 16th November.
Time: Wed – Fri 7.30pm; Sat 2pm & 7.30pm; Sun 5pm.
Location: Arts House, Meat Market, 5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne.
Tickets: $26 Full, $21 Concession.
Bookings: www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/ARTSHOUSE/PROGRAM/Pages/TheEradicationofSchizophrenia.aspx, or call (03) 9322 3713.
Warning: This show is restricted to those aged 14 years and older.

REVIEW: Tamara Saulwick’s PUBLIC

Daring theatre – in a food court

By Myron My

We all do it. We do it all the time no matter where we are. We watch – ever so subtly, so as to not to be spotted. But what happens when the art of people-watching is brought to the surface? What happens when a seemingly private moment is made public?


As part of the Big West Festival, Tamara Saulwick has created a unique and insightful theatrical experience. Appropriately called Public, the show takes places in the food court of Highpoint Shopping Centre. Provided with a pair of headphones, the twenty “audience members” disperse amongst the patrons of the food court and watch for the performance to begin.

There are snippets of conversation being played out, and it sounds as if the voices are coming from all around you. And then, out of nowhere, I spot a man (Tom Davies) who doesn’t quite appear to belong. His movements are far slower and his gestures more grand than anyone else and I wonder why I hadn’t seen him earlier. Davies is joined by three others performers (Rachel Dyson-McGregor, Nicola Gunn, Diana Nguyen) and we begin to watch and listen as their conversations go from private to public. The performers’ conversations are played out into our headphones, so even though we are not sitting next to them, we can hear every word they are saying.

There are a variety of performances and audiences occurring with Public. We are watching the actors, as are the non-audience members. We are also watching the non-audience members’ reactions to the actors and you can see them subtly trying to glance in their direction and then whisper to their friend about the “strange person” nearby. I also began to feel myself being watched by the non-audience members once they realized that we, the people with the headphones, were somehow involved with what was happening.

It was interesting to unwittingly be “on show”, and without having the ability to communicate or share my experience with anyone whilst Public was occurring, I went through a range of emotions including sadness and a feeling of emptiness that slowly enveloped me. This does not mean I did not enjoy the show, but very much the opposite for allowing me to experience such thoughts and feelings without telling me what I should be feeling.

Despite not being the easiest location to get to, Saulwick’s Public is definitely worth a trip out to Highpoint. This sort of innovative theatre does not happen often, and this is an intriguing and involving experience.

Venue: Riverbank Food Court, Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong

Season: Until 1 December | Fri, 5:30pm and 7:30pm, Sat-Sun 2:00pm and 4:00pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc