of little matter

Of Little Matter

Vena Cava

The Studio Kelvin Grove

26th – 31st March 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

Sometimes you step into a world not knowing what to expect. Those terrifying, exhilarating moments before you stumble into Narnia or visit your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Maybe not that terrifying but still an event that exudes a shaky force. That’s how I felt stepping into The Studio at QUT’s Kelvin Grove campus anticipating Vena Cava’s newest production, Of Little Matter. I’d read the blurbs, I’d glimpsed the program but I still wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Then we were plunged into darkness while a solemn tune seethed about my ears. I braced myself for some agonisingly abstract arty fluff but was pleasantly proven wrong by David Morton and his ensemble’s creation.

Despite the name, the play had a lot to say. There was just so much emotion packed into one hour. Puppetry is an understatement. Transformation is getting a little warmer. Incredible insight in the smallest of things is closer but still not quite on the mark. There just isn’t one solution in my abundance of words to describe Of Little Matter.

The idea was something that started small, and though remaining small in size the concept grew into a monument. I was lulled into the adorable childlike sensibilities of this entirely different puppet. A creature made of hands is the only way to describe it. But as it matures the audience too stops giggling at the simplicities of the senses and wanders into darker themes.

There is a reason this play is not advised for children. On one axis, the comedy is distinctly adult. At times even a little crude but the absurdity forbids you to not laugh.  But then there is the other axis of a more serious demeanor. The timing is perfect. It wrenched me from an irremovable smile to open mouthed shock and empathy for these fictional creatures.

The innovations of this group can’t go unappreciated. This production uses many skills to deliver but it all hangs on the balance of two key factors. Of Little Matter at its core is an intense collaboration between space and light. The lighting is everything in this show. Not only in symbolic terms of life and love but the scenery, the characters and the mood that progresses. The idea of making an ocean floor with torches and bottled water sounds so simplistic but looks amazing. The darkness of a cave, the stars in space and even the fish tank in an Asian restaurant depend on a playful manipulation of light and shadow. Christine Hartley was the Lighting Designer for this production and that’s what it was, an excellent design.

The lighting gave way for the use of space to be seen and enjoyed by all. The rigid movement of set change and even changing of angles to which we saw our loveable creature struggle was inhumanly efficient. The timing of their hands was unnoticeable. The creature looked like a living, breathing being. I had to keep reminding myself each foot or hand did not belong to the same pair of arms. Each face hidden in the shadows is in some way connected to the central focus but you wouldn’t know it. As much as I would love to give credit to the entire ensemble I’d have no way to go about it. A hand, a voice, a light being held, none of it could be recognized in this playful concoction of light and sound.

Just like the creatures in Of Little Matter the head interacted with the body. The ensemble helped bring the puppet to life extending from the director, David Morton. The founding member of the Dead Puppet Society has made his contribution starting out at QUT and making his way to Woodford Folk Festival as well as many others in Brisbane. He and assistant director, David Stuart, remind us Of Little Matter was not a sudden birth. It was an idea that grew; matured and morphed itself over time into what it is now. They both claim it is a play of nothing in particular but I disagree. Of Little Matter matters a lot. It matters relentlessly. It matters over many things like love, fear and kung fu battles. It is a matter that needs to be seen.

Clearly this is a play not backed by tradition. Vena Cava is a theatre company at QUT with a “by students for students” mentality. Their focus is bringing creations to the stage so students can learn to grow as they create. Of Little Matter rose out of Vena Cava’s yearly Atrium project specifically designed for a leading industry professional to nurture the students.

It is evident just as the students are nurtured to grow so are the creatures in Of Little Matter. It is a very bizarre journey absolutely worth embarking on.


$10 Vena Cava Members

$12 Students

$15 Adults

Tickets can be purchased online, or at the box office 1 hr prior to the show.

*A 30c booking fee applies to each ticket when booked online.


Anna Clarkson

Ben Newth

Daria Smith

Emma Churchland

Kaitlyn Rogers

Laura Hague

Liam Howarth

Nicole Smith-Stanley

Patrick Hayes

Ruby Donohoe

Stephanie Allsopp

Sampson Smith

Sarah Stafford

Sam Whatley

Zoe Cobon


: David Morton

Assistant Director: 
David Stewart

Production Manager: 
David Vespertine

Stage Manager: 
Nicole Neil

Lighting Designer
: Christine Hartley

Samuel Boyd

Assistant Production Manager: 
Laura Duncan

Vena Cava Productions produce theatre performances and theatre education opportunities to benefit QUT students. Each year we produce two main house shows (based on existing scripts, with industry directors), a devised peace (facilititated by industry professionals), a double-bill of two students’ scripts, a festival for student written/directed/devised short theatre pirces, and a number of workshops with industry professionals spanning different areas of the theatre industry. We pride ourselves on giving students the opportunity to build their confidence, experience and professionalism by facilitating a supportive, yet industry-standard learning environment.


David Morton

David Morton is a Brisbane based theatre maker and puppet designer. He is currently a PhD candidate at Queensland University of Technology and holds a Bachelor of Creative Industries (Drama) with First Class Honours. David has created works, as well as designing and constructing puppets, for The Woodford Folk Festival (Cellar Door 2008), Backbone Youth Arts 2High Festival (to depart… 2008), The Queensland University of Technology (The Timely Death of Victor Blott 2009), Brisbane Festival’s Under the Radar (Little Grey Wolf 2009; The Long And The Short Of It 2009), The Garden of Unearthly Delights at the Adelaide Fringe (Little Grey Wolf 2010), Metro Arts (The Timely Death of Victor Blott 2010; Little V’s Terrible Tea Party 2010), Brisbane City Council (Via Psyche 2010, 2011) and La Boite Theatre Company (The Harbinger 2011). He was a founding member of the Dead Puppet Society and is currently preparing for the company’s mainstage debut with La Boite Theatre Company in the second half of 2012.


1 Response to “of little matter”

  1. 1 Jason
    March 31, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I saw it last night and I agree completely. Such simple objects used to convey such emotion and humanity. It starts out as a pile of hands but soon demands so much empathy that you find yourself laughing and crying, cheering and gasping at the trials of this little “puppet”. I hope they get to take the show to a wider audience because it is something special.

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