Author Archive for Xanthe Coward


Who Is Dani Cabs?


Who Is Dani Cabs?

Kate McDowell

Boundary Street Markets

May 14 – 21 2015


Reviewed by Katelyn Panagiris










Performed by Daniel Cabrera and presented by Kate McDowell as part of Anywhere Theatre Festival, Who is Dani Cabs? is an exploration of identity – of childhood, of being a first generation Australian and ultimately, of finding your place in the world. Part stand up comedy, part theatre; this performance reminded me of the notion that we are all playing the main character in our very own epic (and sometimes mundane) life story.


Cabrera is a charming and charismatic performer with more than enough energy to fill the small outdoor performance space at the entrance of Boundary Street Markets.


The show follows Dani Cabs’ life story, from growing up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney to his short-lived career as an aerobics instructor on the Costa neoRomantica cruise ship. The performance is full of dancing, shouting, cheering and all sorts of joyful movement full of bravado and passion.




Over the 60-minute performance, the insecurities, hopes and dreams of Dani Cabs are laid bare for the audience to see. Assisted by a small projector and minimal costuming (not much was left to the imagination), Cabrera told stories of his Uruguayan background, and shared with the audience (quite literally) the traditional Uruguayan drink mate. He told stories of his childhood escapades, taking to the streets with his macho friend “caba” by his side. He also told the hilarious story of his family camping trip and how he was given the name ‘Dani Cabs’.


It is in these moments of sincere, heartfelt storytelling that both the performer and performance shines.


However, when the focus shifts away from the story and towards making the audience laugh or getting them physically involved, I feel disengaged. In these moments too, the pace and flow of the piece is disrupted and jokes fall flat. I believe this is a result of the structure, which could be tightened to fully showcase Cabrera’s talent as a storyteller.


Although a little rough around the edges, Who is Dani Cabs? is an enjoyable and personal performance. There are some great laugh out loud moments, such as the short films that play during transitions and the tongue in cheek jokes about the cultural melting pot of the Western Suburbs. While there is room for this piece to be polished and refined, I leave feeling as though I’ve had a special peak into the exciting life of Dani Cabs. 



Rumba-Robics (2013) from danicabs on Vimeo.


The Apology


The Apology

Zeal Theatre Queensland & Shock Therapy Productions

Boggo Road Gaol

May 12 – 23 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward











People think I run away after a show if I’ve hated it but that’s not always true. It’s sometimes true, but not always. On Tuesday night I was so affected by The Apology that I ran away so no one would see how upset I was. I was overwhelmed, on the verge of tears…






Unfortunately, we’d been locked in. The gate through which we’d entered Boggo Road Gaol was locked and barred from the inside (keeping inmates safe since 1883?), so I composed myself for a moment while the lovely box office girl raced up to let me out. I had to smile and say something so I thanked her and said I’d email Sam the following day. (And I did so because PRODUCTION PICS!). And then I let the tears fall, all the way to Aspley before I knew where I was. I’ve gotten pretty darn good at navigating Brisbane at night during Anywhere Theatre Festival, I can tell you.



I wasn’t sobbing, don’t worry; it wasn’t a desperate outpouring of something so intense or personal only live theatre could unlock it (but that’s happened before). It was an overwhelming feeling of responsibility (well, it’s impossible to teach kids without investing emotionally). Also, contributing factors including I was really tired and feeling fed up with driving and road works and well, young men in utes on the freeway are just so RUDE sometimes, aren’t they? And I’d been to dinner the night before with the awesome Matty Anderson and his Melbourne Storm Development Academy boys and I looked up at those young faces and their wide eyes full of high hopes, and talked with those who have been around a bit longer than they have been about footy, bullying, rape culture, human trafficking, daughters and… I HAD A LOT ON MY MIND.



ANYWAY, I suddenly felt really strongly that everyone everywhere needed to see this show.






Well, thanks to Artslink Qld it’s been happening, during an extensive schools’ tour since 2004. I hadn’t realised, having not heard about it, which is unusual and adds weight to the discussion about the need for a Sunshine Coast secondary drama teachers’ network-not-just-panel.



So students and teachers from Weipa to Warwick, Mt Isa to Mackay, and Gladstone to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast have already experienced (Writer & Director) Stefo Nantsou’s hardcore two-hander, The Apology, but somehow I’d missed it until now. Other Zeal Theatre Queensland productions have been touring and winning great acclaim for years too. Who knew?






The Apology is an example of Zeal Theatre’s signature style of doing as much as possible with as little as possible.



The infamous Brisbane Prison features in the show – it’s the setting for an incident that occurs during a Year 9 excursion, a terrifying experience that alters the course of a young boy’s life. What was intended as a cruel “joke” ends up having horrific repercussions…repercussions that we know really happened. The Apology is based on a true story.






The text is fairly authentic without being offensive; the language, including those relentless and so-called “innocent” jibes uttered “just for fun”, which kids learn from somewhere (where do they learn to speak to each other that way?!) are delivered slowly and tauntingly, like a knife being removed from the spleen, or as quick, sharp stabs straight to the heart, depending on the character involved.



Just two actors, Sam Foster & Hayden Jones, perform all the characters (and Foster plays a pretty mean guitar too, the compositions and volume ideal in this haunted, haunting space).



This accomplishment is so much more impressive than I can write about here. The mastery with which these two employ the slightest change in vocal and facial expression, posture, gesture and gait (or adjust the angle of a baseball cap) to keep the story moving at a rapid pace will win over even the most skeptical non-theatre-attending fourteen year old!






As exhilarating as the pace might feel at times (and not forgetting it’s very funny), there’s not an empathetic moment missed. And this is the magic. A less confident team might gloss over critical moments but instead we are left sitting in silence and stillness for juuuuust long enough to start to feel uncomfortable…and inexplicably guilty.



Shouldn’t we be doing something?! Somebody tell him to stop it! STOP!



I’ve never sat in an audience and felt so conflicted about sitting still and paying attention without interjecting. Well, there have been committee meetings that have come close but…there were times when I wanted to sit “the Eneme” (Foster) down and tell him, “You don’t need to be that guy” and times when I wanted to give Ray Bones (Jones) a big hug and tell him, “You don’t need to be that guy!” by which he would have been discomforted and unresponsive, walked away. I know this because we feel as if we know the characters well enough to do this; to intercede, to protect, to prevent harm… N.B. At no point did I feel compelled to punch the Eneme in the head. I think that’s important, don’t you?






The personality and family history brought to the story by Ray’s character is typical and really worrying. His parents are continuously fighting and repeatedly splitting. He has no friends and no sense of self-worth, and his dad’s one hot tip is to pick the right time and fight back! WTF?! And then there’s the downward spiral at school and the principal’s completely inappropriate lectures, the adult behaviour demonstrating the insidious bullying that happens systemically from the top down. Who can even consider getting near enough to him to be able to help Ray? It’s heartbreaking. And then, even more heartbreaking, he picks his moment.



Within a cleverly styled satirical segment, which is surprisingly upbeat, though it’s just as hard-hitting, we are given the opportunity to stop and consider how we feel about this story and its stakeholders when a television journalist presents the “facts” of the case. A similar device is employed in The Stones, when the boys stand on trial and the audience becomes the jury. To frame the case and recap the story in this way makes it easier for teachers to talk about the themes of the show with their students but it’s probably not necessary to include it for the general public…or is it? Do we need a framework such as this, using comedy and the familiar news report or reality television format, to be able to talk about the too-hard issues? Is it in fact precisely the way we need to frame these serious issues, which are not being treated seriously enough by so many people in authority and in roles that require the care of children?






And what about those adults who are speaking to each other in this manner? What about workplace bullying and “mates” who won’t let up? What about the jostling and hustling in the locker room and on the sports field? What about the graduation party that becomes a dangerous game of Truth or Dare? What about the tough guy or girl who doesn’t like what you’re wearing (or “misinterprets” what you’re wearing)? This show could be the precursor to a whole series of hardcore shows that challenge us to reconsider the way we communicate with each other. Perhaps we could have each play filmed and available to download or purchase on DVD. Perhaps we might see the ABC produce a series of episodes for prime time viewing. I’m not kidding. Can you help to make that happen? Let me know if you can.



Imagine if actually believable stuff using our most talented actors, writers and directors became the new reality TV. (I have wide eyes and high hopes too. Let’s change a culture, kids).



So now I’m looking out for those other productions in Zeal Theatre’s repertoire, including The Forwards, coming soon to The Arts Centre, Gold Coast. The season runs during the intense lead-up to Noosa Long Weekend Festival (I think it’s actually during my rehearsal week!), but Sam and I are determined to see what Lowdown Magazine says is the company’s “most powerful play”.





The Apology is by far the best that Anywhere Theatre Festival has to offer this year, not only because of its perfect placement on the lower floor of Boggo Road Gaol’s historic Number Two Division but because it goes where other shows fear to tread. The writing is unwavering, the direction insightful and unapologetic, and the acting fearless, focused and intelligent.



I’d love to see this production again if I could, and you shouldn’t miss seeing it at least once.



You could let a show like this change your life…



Images by Peter Cabral Photography



Job’s Right – The Second Coat comes to Nambour & Noosa. A Chat with Simon Denver

Job’s Right – The Second Coat

A Chat With Simon Denver

After their sell-out season at The Events Centre, Caloundra, we caught up with Sunshine Coast based Writer & Director of SRT, Simon Denver.


Job’s Right – The Second Coat hits Nambour (May 28, 29 & 30) and Noosa (June 3, 4 & 6) next!


The client wants “an oasis of calm” so the boys (and girl) do their level best to oblige.

But something is lost in translation and anything that can go wrong GOES WRONG!


Simon, tell us about Job’s Right – The Second Coat.

A brutal, gladiatorial onslaught – that just happens to be really funny! There are 30, 000 job sites in Australia. This is none of them yet it’s all of them. A no holds barred, warts ‘n all look at Tradies. It contemptuously ignores the lines in crosses.

Job’s Right was a smash hit the first time around. To what do you attribute its success?

It struck a chord with so many people – especially Tradies. Brave, Raw, Earthy and Funny.

What else have you been doing? Why did it take so long to bring a second job site show to the Sunshine Coast?

Timing mainly. Everyone has a full life and it takes a while to line them all up. Besides, We kept this junk yard dog on a short chain for as long as we dare. It’s nasty. It’s hungry, it’s a bit stir crazy! Perfect time to let it off the chain.

You’ve used a few of the original actors but who’s new? How did you find them? How do you cast a show like Job’s Right?

You cast it with great care. The engine house of this show is the gang of painters. Three of these were in the original production. In fact, of the cast of eight, four were in the original. We looked for the chemistry first. We see a lot of shows locally every year so we are very aware who is out there. Watching someone perform is the ultimate audition.

Tell us about SRT & Job’s Right Productions. For what sort of theatre are you known?

I suppose you’d have to ask our critics that question. It’s very hard to be objective about our own work. I would like to think it is of a good standard though.

What drew you to live theatre? What’s special about it?

It’s in real time and there are no safety nets.

SimonDenver_headshotWho is doing the sort of work you like to see?

We’ve always liked brave or edgy material that pushes the envelope. But at the end of the day we like anything that is done properly. In the community theatre circles on the coast  Noosa Arts Theatre is head and shoulders above the rest – always delivering a high production standard. From the independent theatres XS Entertainment are blazing a very successful trail.

Thank you, Simon! #mutualadmirationsociety 

What do we need to keep seeing (or start seeing) on stage in Australia?

Works that are not held to ransom by the arts “Process”. Works that are not confined to the new economic paradigm of casts of four or under. Works that have not had to compromise by ticking the right boxes for funding! In short – works free of external agendas.

Who has influenced your work (actors, directors, producers)?

Everyone! Amateur or professional, good or bad, every show is a learning experience. Some totally reinforce what you should never do on a stage – some give you the inspiration to carry on. But we love any show that slaps us in the face and reminds us how much we have to learn.

Tell us about the creative process – as actor / writer / director.

This is genuine ensemble product. Brett (Klease) and I merely present a skeletal frame of a script and then the cast takes it and runs with it. Adapt and assimilate, personalise through consensus.



The entire cast then have a sense of ownership with the end product. This is really reflected in the performances. They have to be brave. But then again – as Goethe said – boldness has a genius all of its own.


job's right2

job's right1

Cast from L-R: Anna McMahon, Shane Cassidy, Brett Klease, Brad Thomson, Clayton Storey. Not pictured: Joy Marshall, Darren Heskes, Sam Coward


Do you have some hot tips for aspiring actors / writers / directors?

Learn to be ruthlessly truthful with yourselves. Learn to self edit. Be focused and disciplined – because only then does the real fun start.

Who will enjoy Job’s Right – The Second Coat?

Anyone who has a good sense of humour. Anyone who has had a gut full of the bureaucratic nonsense dictating what we can and can’t do, or laugh at.

What’s next?

Probably spend the next three years in court fending off all those charges from those we offended too much!

Book tix for Job’s Right – The Second Coat at Nambour Civic Centre



Book tix for Job’s Right – The Second Coat at The J, Noosa



job's right_poster_final


Awesome Ocean Party


Awesome Ocean Party

Giema Contini & Matt Seery

Musgrave Park Pool

May 14 – 23 2015


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward











A show in a swimming pool?! Cool! Brisbane independent artist, Giema Contini, invites us to join her for a birthday celebration with the lot – stories, songs, a saltwater fish tank, a sand island in a clam and, of course, CAKE. It’s cold, it’s looking like rain, and Poppy and I have already been to Opera Queensland’s La Traviata, which was beautiful! BUT it’s been a big day. I’m grateful to score a car park right outside Musgrave Park Pool, despite the packed party atmosphere of the Greek Club across the road and three trips around the block indicating that we might have to take a long walk! Poppy and I say thank you to the universe and skip, with minutes to spare, down a path that leads to the makeshift box office where we are offered party blowers to exchange at the bar for a drink.




Poppy chooses our seats and we settle in the front row, where we’ve spied a spare green blanket. We might need that! Our bench seat is the low wall of the toddler pool so we giggle when we sit because our feet are in the pool! Of course, the pools have all been drained for winter.


For a birthday present Contini asks the audience to give her a new name. She will see which name fits. This allows some lovely vocal and physical playtime as Contini shivers and shakes and plies into each name, trying them on like party dresses that look like fun on the rack but just don’t fit as nicely as you thought they might. (toofrillytoosillytoopinktoogreentoofittedtooloosetoomuch).


Someone suggests Persephone. Esmeralda. Pancake. We vote. Pancake, with a quick yet graceful plie, it is! Later I notice that the guy who suggested “Pancake” is the same guy who eats the cake when it’s offered, right after Contini has face-planted in its frosting and transformed, becoming a tragic Butoh figure in black taffeta and brightly coloured ribbons, and standing on a chair centre stage, holding the cake as if to offer it to the world, white frosted face turned up to the moon, which is obscured by clouds. But we know where it is… It’s an awful, beautiful, terribly sad moment. There are a couple of these moments, making Pancake’s story poignant, unforgettable…




Pancake tells us some interesting things about herself. She’s not from here. She has three hearts. She sings good! We’re intrigued, not because each detail is especially intriguing but because Contini shares each titbit with the innocent charm and secrecy and excitement of a child whose birthday it is.


Suddenly Contini is smiling and winking at Poppy and in response Poppy gives her a thumbs up. Nope. Not what she wanted. Oh! We look down to discover AN ACTUAL GIFT-WRAPPED BIRTHDAY PRESENT leaning against the low concrete wall. Right! Poppy picks it up and hands it to the birthday girl. And the real story begins because when she ever so carefully unwraps it, the gift is a storybook, illustrated by hand (the most wondrous and alluring illustrations, sketched in pencil and enhanced by collage), telling the strange tale of a three-hearted, purple-blooded girl…Pancake. This is her story. This is special.




The story of loss, longing, love and self-love, delivered in Contini’s rich, special storytelling voice, is the real heart of the show and this is what I want to see her courageous enough to stage next. Just this. There is an exceptionally beautiful show in The Purple Hybrid if she trusts the material enough to focus solely on it and discard the flotsam and jetsam of the busy, clunky birthday party surrounding it. Some would disagree entirely. Wonderful!


Contini is an exceptional performer, just magic to watch, and she deserves the chance (and by chance I mean money and time and space) to continue working on this unique piece of theatre. Contini’s imaginative approach to storytelling, and her energy and originality, is what live theatre is all about.


Whatever becomes of this show, I hope that one day (or one cold, rainy, moonless night!) you get to enjoy Contini’s Awesome Ocean Party too.





My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe


My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe

Fractal Theatre Productions

The Hut, Jean Howie Drive

May 13 – 23 2015


 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward










Love me, love my Holden.


Cars and Australian suburban culture go hand in hand. In 1973, author Henry Williams was working in Brisbane’s Acacia Ridge when he wrote the novel, My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe, an ode to the Holden Monaro centred around a racist, misogynist bully named Ron who’s more than a little obsessed with his dream set of wheels.


Fast-forward to decades later, and the lost Australian classic has been doing the rounds on stage for a few years. If you’ve previously missed what amounts to a black comedy of circus, mime, body percussion, film and car-porn poetry, here’s your chance to check it out. You’ll laugh, and you’ll see the iconic Monaro presented as a living, breathing organism.




Refreshingly, My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe doesn’t contain too much obscene language or the graphic sex and violence that so many writers and directors insist on shoving down our throats at the moment (yes, until we’re gagging on it #sorrynotsorry), yet it’s hard-hitting enough to challenge us on all levels.


Brenna Lee-Cooney’s adaptation of Henry Williams’ classic ode to a car is hardcore Australian theatre at its best. Just as well it’s an intelligent company staging it, or we might miss the awful truth behind its bleak, blokey humour and be left with too-obvious crass nothingness.


Deeply entrenched in our culture, and highlighted by the black comedy in this piece, is the insidious dislike of and blatant disregard for anyone who is not regarded as one of our own. Migrants and the wife (and women in general) cop a hiding in this production, and we never see them get their own back because the revenge plot revolves around racist, misogynist Ron and his need to maintain his unique worldview.


Eugene Gilfedder played the multiple roles at La Boite in 2002 as part of The Holden Plays for the Brisbane (Energex) Festival, with Ian Lawson in the directors’ chair. I suspect this production is slightly different…




It’s a tough little show with moments of fluid, silvery, abstract perfection (in case we weren’t getting the correlation between car bodies and womens’ bodies). The physical theatre is at once strange and perfectly suitable, executed with skill and precision by Vanja Matula, Zoe DePlevitz & Beth Incognito. There’s an element of mime, which brings the action at times to a slow dream-like state – is this really happening?! Hot tip: sit towards the front of the room because there ain’t no tiered seating in the hut on Jean Howie Drive.


Colarelli is in fine form as the abhorrent Ron (don’t call him Ronald!), beautifully weighing up some difficult choices in life, like whether or not to ever speak to the “commo” neighbour again, after he’s unable to identify a 5 / 8 ring spanner. I love Ron’s private moments of contemplation, bathed in deceptively soft white light, little philosophical soliloquies (some are pre-recorded and come across with even more menace as he glares at us), which lead us to gasp or groan aloud at his ignorance and intolerance of others – OH MY GOD. Did he really say that?! Yes. Yes, he did.


Having never read the original text by Henry Williams, the end comes as a complete surprise. The lengths to which the man goes to to exact revenge upon the poor souls who don’t fit his worldview… Really, we should have known. But who could imagine? In the first five minutes of the show we see exactly what sort of man Ron has been taught to be. He’s truly appalling but what the WHAT? WOW.


A lesser actor would make a dog’s breakfast of this role, rushing through the crass comparative comments and hurling rather than snarling insults, or indulging in the wrong moments, missing the point entirely.


The violence of the text is juxtaposed against pure poetry in the movement of DePlevitz, Incognito and Matula. Matula is at his best here, in multiple roles, but especially as that annoying neighbour, Mel Moody.




The ensemble’s strength and poise, and their ability to work in perfect synchronicity (in fantastic shiny speedway gear) underscores some of the most beautiful (and comical) moments in the show. Yes! Despite the dark content and shocking conclusion, My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe is, in parts, actually hilarious…well, horribly so.


Side note: Since I finished feeling sick to my stomach through much of Christos Tsiolkas’s Dead Europe, in the car now I’m listening to Jon Kakauer’s Missoula – Rape and the Justice System in a College Town. Some of the accounts send shivers down my spine. It’s the same discomfort I experience while watching Ron run his hand down the torso of his wife, Rose, as the actor backbends into position to become the car’s gearstick.


DePlevitz is wholly Rose and whatever else is required, in terms of car parts, machinary parts, etc, which gives her reading of the role of Wife-with-a-capital-w a deeply disturbing underlying awareness that maybe, just maybe, she deserves more. Have I ever seen this actor in anything before? If not why not? DePlevitz’s performance is heart-achingly on point.




I can’t imagine what this production would be like without its hardcore garage party soundtrack (with voice/guitar/lyrics & additional music by Finn Gilfedder-Cooney), the sound effects and pre-recorded soliloquies, and strangely colourful lighting states (Sound by Michael Bouwman. Lighting by Geoff Squires. Design Nicole Macqueen). I can’t picture a one-man show now that I’ve seen this ensemble’s polished body percussion and streamlined movement applied in the most imaginative ways I’ve seen outside of an actors’ workshop.


As we realise with horror what’s going to happen, and the play accelerates to reach its inevitable grisly end, I forget for a moment where I am. I’m surprised to find I’m exactly where I started, I haven’t moved, perched on the top of my seat with my feet on the actual seat in order to better see the performers who had begun on the black & white linoleum looking floor. I’m gripping the metal top of the chair.



“I watched my Monaro move off like some proud, doomed galleon…”



Terror. Horror. Unspeakable. I CAN’T EVEN. And then the epilogue. And then a rousing curtain call. And then the cold air outside.


I’m so impressed with this slick production. Lee-Cooney has assembled a stellar cast and turned some old-school theatrical tricks to create a deeply affecting, genuinely thrilling production, which I feel should be re-staged in front of the towering brick walls of Brisbane Powerhouse, filmed professionally and distributed to schools and theatre groups everywhere as an example of LOOK WHAT CAN BE CREATED WITH BODIES AND VOICES AND SOUND AND AN EMPTY SPACE.


Be one of the lucky few to see My Love Had a Black Speed Stripe during Anywhere Theatre Festival and you’ll be hearing for years to come about how so many others regrettably missed it.






The Reality Event: GAME


The Reality Event: GAME

The Suicide Ensemble

Bean Cafe

May 12 – 17 2015


Reviewed by Katelyn Panagiris











GAME represents one half of THE REALITY EVENT – a double bill of work directed by Daniel Gough and devised by The Suicide Ensemble for Anywhere Theatre Festival. The premise of THE REALITY EVENT is simple, and the result chaotic…


“This is theatre for the people. Two performances: SUICIDE and GAME. Each plays a part in finding out what your world is really made of. We’ve made something big. But it’s time to burn it down. Come be destructive with us.”


It had been a long time since I’d been this excited for a performance.




As I walked through a dark alleyway on my way to the venue, performers donned in rubbish bags greeted me and directed me to the entrance of Bean Cafe. I knew I was in for a gritty night. The underground café, while small, proved to be an inviting and energetic space – the perfect venue for an “underground” performance. Back in the alleyway, the hosts laid down the rules, the performers were introduced, and inside, the game began. Over the next hour, five performers, supported by their team of audience members, battled it out for the title of winner. I witnessed as balloons were popped with a large rubber object, eggs were thrown at dancing performers and a mix of yoghurt, spam and gherkins was hesitantly consumed.


At this stage you may be having trouble imagining all of this, and that’s because GAME is a work that needs to be experienced.


It’s important to acknowledge that its origins lie in the tradition of performance art more than theatre, with clear influences from international companies such as Gob Squad. GAME has no characters, no set and no script. And without you (the audience), it would not exist.


This emphasis on audience participation and improvisation means that not only will each performance be different, but each audience member’s response to the performance will be different. I get the sense that this individual response is what GAME is all about.


For me, GAME was a playful experience made possible by the vibrant energy and personality of each of the performers. Their commitment was admirable, and their sense of fun infectious. The whole performance felt like an echo of my generation – the type of perverse thing that I’d watch on YouTube with my friends and laugh. While physical audience participation was relatively minimal, I felt engaged and involved throughout, cheering for “Team Pavle” from the sidelines.


As the game progressed and the tasks became more cringe-worthy, I found it difficult to watch. But still, I couldn’t look away. What did this say about me? About my generation? These were interesting questions but I’m not sure they were the ones The Suicide Ensemble was asking. In fact, for all its moments of brilliant fun and dark play, I felt the intention of GAME was unclear. I left the performance questioning the significance of my response in light of their intent: what was the point of this game?


There is no denying that the audience has been considered when creating GAME, however; this type of work, which relies so heavily on the audience’s involvement can reveal a gap between intent and reception in performance. As the ensemble itself says, “In truth, we’re never sure how it’s going to go…because you aren’t there yet.” While GAME is a well-considered and carefully structured piece, I feel there is potential for it to be developed further, incorporating audience feedback from this first development.




GAME has the potential to ask more, to push the boundaries further and to include the audience more completely. But in this underground cafe are the beginnings of a new work that is young, fresh and ambitious.


It’s fun. It’s rebellious, and most importantly it’s the type of work you really don’t want to just hear about second hand.







QTC & Dead Puppet Society

Bille Brown Studio

May 5 – 17 2015


 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Poppy and I fell in love with little Argus in 2013 at Brisbane Powerhouse, where the show was the humble highlight of their PowerKids festival. You can read our original review, which reveals a little more of the story, here.


Dead Puppet Society created magic with this beautiful production, and we’re so glad it’s back! But only until this weekend so be quick! Book it! And then come back here to find out why you can’t miss this special storytelling event…




You know the feeling that flutters up from somewhere, tickles your heart and the tip of your nose, and bursts into a million bright yellow butterflies when you come across an old favourite toy or a ribbon bound bunch of love letters in the bottom of the box of special things stashed under your bed? THAT’S ARGUS.


It’s a gorgeous show, full of every emotion and offering the perfect solutions to global problems of displacement and loss. LOVE. AND LOOKING OUT FOR EACH OTHER. WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT?



“If we’re together it doesn’t matter where we are. Even the dump can be made beautiful. We can have a party at the dump.” Poppy Eponine



It’s an ancient story made new by the simple retelling of it. A little guy – Argus – loses his friends and travels the world to locate them. Through his bright eyes we see how big and frightening and wonderful and awesome our world is. There are physical, emotional and ethical challenges – and big, loud, egotistical evil dudes wielding red spades – but there is joy in something as simple as a tiny flower and in the acts of sharing, and giving and receiving simple gifts.




Nathan Booth, Laura Hague, Matthew Seery and Anna Straker make an impressive ensemble, bringing to life every character with a deceptively simple arrangement of hands, voices and recycled kitchen things. It’s extraordinary to look away from the illusion, magically lit by Jason Glenwright, to watch four expressive faces, another entire performance happening above the performance space. Director and Designer, David Morton hasn’t attempted to hide the puppeteers, nor the musicians (Brisbane’s Topology: Robert Davidson, Therese Milanovic, Christa Powell and Composer, John Babbage). Babbage’s score encapsulates dreams and fears, and known and unknown places and people.



Argus is a little show with a big heart, fondly known as “the little show that could”. Argus is a gift that keeps on giving to audiences of all ages, moving us beyond words and worlds.





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