‘Speaking of….’ A Chat with Nicholas Tan

By Sarah Smit

Nicholas Tan is an award-winning writer and recently premiered his new play, Five, Six at Studio 411 for the Fringe Festival. METIOR caught up with him to discuss his directoral debut and indie theatre in Perth.

This is your first time directing, right?

That’s correct. I did some assistant directing 3 years ago for fringe 2015, but this is my first time at the helm, yeah.

Has it been a challenging transition for you?

It’s interesting, because on the one hand I have  a vision — being the writer, I know where I want the actors to go — but the difficult part is trying to find the language to direct. And because the play deals with OCD and some other issues, it’s sometimes hard to teach the actors to be authentic about it so we’ve had to do a few changes. Some of the bits will be stylised, so that’s one difficulty. The other difficulty is I’m also producing, as well, so it’s kind of having to put on two hats. It’s pretty full on.

Can you tell me a bit about the play?

Essentially, it’s about two brothers, and one of the is closeted and the other one has OCD and they come from a broken family, and what happens is they try to cope with their struggles.

Has the experience been quite stressful?

Yeah. Some of the things that were originally in the play are no longer there, or now we’ve just implied it, so there were  a few character changes. Also it was originally a ten minute play, and now it’s gone to an hour.  The ten-minute version was directed by someone else and [in the shorter version] some of the behaviours are ok, but when they’re expanded to an hour long play, some of those characteristics are a bit difficult to prolong because we’re trying to express it in  a way which is respectful, too. What I found is that when the OCD continued throughout the play, there was something wrong with the structure of it. We have a younger cast; in the ten minute version they were all 25 and older, [now] the youngest is 19, we have two 20 year olds, and the oldest is 28.

Was there a generational barrier there?

Yeah, some issues of the display of mental health. The play is set around ten, fifteen years ago, so and it still plays in my mind, but I kind of have to externalise the pain [for the actors] because things have changed since then. I think we have a better awareness now of mental health issues, and we’re slowly changing our positivity to saying ‘I’m not alright, I need help,’ whereas in the play, some of the characters have facades, and that doesn’t make sense to the actors. It makes sense to me though, and I have to try and explain that. And just the experience as well, some of the younger actors may not have experienced OCD or mental health issues. I have to try and give them that research to help them. The play isn’t  an exposition on mental health, but there’s lots of implied issues in there, so they needed to understand it. I think that’s the challenge.  The play also deals with closeted behaviour,  and what I get from these actors, [is] it’s not an issue that their friends have experienced, so showing up and having to teach them how to conduct themselves, and the history behind it, I think, is a very important part of the process for them as actors to discover the script. Then again, saying that, the benefit of a cast that we have now is that they’re closer to the age of the characters than the original cast were. But it does meant that there’s a lot of research and pre-acting exercises.

OCD and mental health struggles are quite internal experiences; do you find it difficult to communicate your experiences of those things to the actors?

Yeah,  it’s hard for me to show because my expertise in the theatre is not acting itself, so I have to rely on different tools and resources to be able to teach them. One of the things we did I couldn’t do it myself without making a fool of myself, or going into my OCD phase. I couldn’t personally show it to them, so one of the suggestions I gave to Callum, who plays Joel, was to look it up on Youtube. But even then it’s difficult to try mimic it.  And I guess that’s why I try to stylise those things, not too much to the point where it becomes mimicry or disrespectful, but enough that we avoid the situation of having to fake it. It’s not really putting it in good words, but yeah… but it’s important to try to be respectful of it.

To find a genuine portrayal of it?

Yeah, a genuine portrayal , otherwise you just lose it. It’s even things as basic as anger that can be difficult to actually show the actors. Part of it is them not understanding, and me not explaining it to them what the rationale is. Once I explained it, they got it. So the challenge is me thinking when do I need to explain it and when don’t I need to explain it.  There’s such a limited time sometimes in my mode, I go do this and do this and do this, and I forget that because I’m the writer, it’s already in my head. But they didn’t write the script, so I need to develop it with them.  So that’s the difficulty of having two hats.

What’s your background? How did you get here?

My interest is actually in writing. In 2016, there was a festival in Newcastle NSW, and they were asking for ten minute pieces. The theme was out of place, and I wrote this piece and it was selected as one of 10 plays. I went to Newcastle and saw the play, and I thought that the story and characters were not finished yet, so I decided to write [the expanded version of] it myself.
Before that, I had something I wanted to produce at Fringe, but I wasn’t able to find a director. So with this ten minute version, when I wanted to do it for Fringe, I thought ‘Why don’t I have a go at directing it myself?’ But of course it was going to be a sixty minute piece, and on top of that, I’m also producing and doing other tasks as well, so it’s a little difficult. If I could get a director, that would have been great! I love the idea of someone else interpreting [your work] for you, because I think when you interpret it yourself – especially at my early levels of directing- mistakes can happen, and you want an experienced person. But the nature of Fringe and where I am at the moment, meant that I would have to direct it myself, and so I decided to, and I produced it myself. I had to train myself pretty quickly about what was expected in directing, and how you deal with actors. The producing side was not as difficult in the sense that I didn’t need to look up or read up or anything, but more the time you needed to sign documents and send emails. But the directing, definitely, I had to make sure of the theory and make sure I was proficient.

Is the play autobiographical , or is it more an exploration of the issues that you went through?

There are definitely some true experiences in there, of myself and people that I know, but I’ve also added fiction to it. I did give the script to a few people to read, and some of my friends could see bits that they thought were them, but they still couldn’t figure out the whole thing. So I think I’ve done a good job; I’m not going to get sued for slander or libel! The characters in the play are from a broken family, and that was pretty much the experience, growing up in Kalgoorlie; I’ve seen it firsthand. So some people will see some truth in it, but there are other parts that are totally comic and probably wouldn’t happen in real life. *laughs* Hopefully not!

What do you want to achieve with Five Six? Ideally, what would the audience take away from it?

I think I don’t want the audience to think that the characters are right. Because characters are not always right. The way I’ve written it, sometimes the characters make the wrong decision and take the consequences. And do not think the play reflects my views. You’ll see, when you watch the play, that some things are left unanswered. And that’s how I think that some things should be. But the theme I think definitely is taking responsibility for your choices, and being responsible for your success and your happiness. But also, considering your journey. In the play, all the characters go through the same problems, but they each take a different way out. And that’s what I want the audience to get.

But it’s not there to teach any morals; I don’t believe in that. And I try not to judge my characters. I think when we go to see a play, sometimes we’re too quick to go ‘this character is good and this character is bad,’ but we’ve got to look at the flaws. I think the what the audience member should say is, I wouldn’t have done this if I were the character, or I understand what the character is going through but I would have done it a different way.

Did you grow up with a brother?

I do have a younger brother, and that’s sort of where the issues come up. The issues didn’t come up with how I grew up, the issues came up from people that I saw. So it was taking experiences of lots of people and putting them together. I didn’t grow up in a broken family, but many of the people I went to school with did. I’m a bit suggestive when It comes to characters, I believe it’s up to the audience to come up with the story for the characters, so I try not to say this particular character grew up in a broken family.  It’s not said in the staging or dialogue, but I try to suggest it. Audience members have the right to their imagination. I think sometimes in indie theatre there is sometimes a lot of amplification and flamboyance, and everything’s in your face. I wanted to minimise that. I want the audience to be able to think, to imagine and be creative. They’re part of the play as well. Something I told the actor is that the final part of the production is the audience; it’s up to them what the play is about in the end. We can only do so much.

You mentioned that there’s a lot of amplification in indie theatre, could you expand on that?

Yeah, I find in Perth indie theatre, there is a lot of amplification, there is a lot of flamboyance, there is a lot of out there, in your face. In this play there are some parts that are in your face, but not in your face in an artificial way, I think. What I mean is that if it’s in your face, it’s by movement, and by voice and by dialogue, but not by special effects. I try not to rely on special effect too much. That might change, it’s just where I am at the moment. I would never say ‘this is how I will be forever,’ but at this moment, my artistic practise is to try and keep it actor focused. If you rely on special effects too much to  try and entertain the audience in a play that deals with issues, you end up talking about the issues and not the people who are affected by the issues. That’s how I see it anyway. There are lots of plays that deal with identity politics that are very out there and push the form, and that’s good, its always good to push the form. But then the question I ask is where are the people? Because it’s people who are affected by the issues, not the issues themselves. So it’s important to make sure there’s a balance and ecology in the theatre world, and that’s what I’m trying to do. But also for me, it’s also interesting to see how much can I push the actors and the script in a way which doesn’t have to rely on props. Some people are lighting designers, or set designers, but I’m not. If I were to use the props, they’re not my strengths.

Are there any directors in Perth who are doing those things that you find really interesting?

There’s this company called Improve Silence – one of my actor friends is one of the producers of this company- and they recently made a show so that is character based, and I finds that interesting to watch. There was another show by The Last Great Hunt; it wasn’t so recent, they already did a second part. [It starred] Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs, and they’re just storytelling on stage. And that was a really interesting performance, because it was really stripped bare. But saying that, The Last Great Hunt do produce other shows with effects. [They did] one that involved puppetry and there was no dialogue, but the characterisation was interesting.   I couldn’t do anything like that. Even if you have your style, still I think it’s important to see what’s around.

I suppose you can know your own style and still be informed by other performers and other ways of doing things.

You need that variation. But I think, for me, you can’t look at a different style without knowing your own style first. Otherwise, especially at an emerging level, you will get swept in and it’ll just be too much. Even with this production, ‘I have to say no, I’m making a decision, this is how it’s going to be.’ Just because something’s in trend, doesn’t mean you should always choose it. It has to be right for the story. I always have to ask myself ‘does it serve the story?’  And sometimes it won’t.

Our review of Five, Six, can be found here.

[Review] Five, Six by Nicholas Tan

By Michael Wood

Earlier this month the METIOR team had the privilege of attending a preview performance of Nicholas Tan’s upcoming Fringe Festival show Five, Six here at Murdoch’s own Studio 411. Adapted from an award winning ten-minute piece, which Tan wrote but did not direct, the feature-length incarnation of the story marks Tan’s directorial debut.

Five, Six presents an intimate and immersive portrait of the lives of Andy and Joel, small-town brothers battling to maintain a sense of normalcy in the absence of their oft-travelling parents. Life for the brothers is made all the more difficult by the younger Joel’s seemingly undiagnosed OCD and the elder Andy’s struggle with his own sexuality—a struggle which drives the play’s action. Both Andy and Joel find counsel in Andy’s best friend, Max. In contrast to Andy, Max is openly gay and often finds himself as the mediator in Andy and Joel’s relationship. Helping each to grasp the other’s emotional complexities and better navigate life as a unit, even when Andy’s actions would leave Max entirely justified in leaving, Max’s compassion, guidance and love for the brothers often becomes the moral compass of their lives.

The construction of the narrative must be applauded. The events of Five, Six are not inherently driven by action, but rather by the emotional arc Andy embarks on throughout the story. At first glance the story is one of rejection by society, in which the brothers try and fail to assimilate into their surroundings. In reality it is a story of hope, and of finding goodness in those around you even when traditional sources of guidance are unwilling or unable to help.

Each of the three protagonists has a distinct emotional imprint which informs Tan’s decisions as a writer. Boiled down to its bare bones it is essentially a series of conversations, and yet the drama is gripping. For a narrative which covers such a wide range of issues, from mental illness to sexuality to familial discord, Five, Six is shockingly lean. Tan clearly understands his characters very deeply and the precision with which he selects which moments from their lives the audience shall be privy to demonstrates just how strong a writer he is. The elegance of the script was reflected in the performance’s blocking. The stage was occupied only by the actors and a handful of props which were rarely on stage at the same time. This felt entirely appropriate for a play about absence, isolation, and the question we so often ask ourselves: what is missing?

Each of the four actors delivered strong performances. Given the youth of the cast (all but one are under the age of twenty-one) their ability to connect with the audience was impressive. As Andy, Noah Way’s performance was an achievement. Way managed to create layers which left the viewer acutely aware of what was bubbling beneath the surface. Calum Costello displayed a level of commitment to Joel’s obsessive tics that elevated the piece to greater heights, while Josh McGee’s soft and stoic portrayal of Max felt natural and sympathetic.

While not perfect (because what is?), it was clearly a love for the craft which made Five, Six work so well. As debuts go Tan can certainly be proud of what he has achieved with this production. We thoroughly recommend Five, Six and expect to see some truly great work from Tan, and all involved, in the future.

Five, Six is showing at Studio 411, Murdoch University South Street Campus from the 21st to the 23rd of February. Tickets can be purchased from  https://fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/five-six-fw2018

Ruby Red Fatales – FRINGE REVIEWS

Advertised as a war set comedy/cabaret, ‘Ruby Red Fatales’ provides relief and enjoyment from the first haunting dance to the last cheeky remark. What began as a typical (but sexy as all hell) 20th-century burlesque dance, quickly changed its tone to one of romance and humour.

While not intentionally serious, the romantic story-arc does gently pull on the heart strings. This provides a great counterbalance for the fusion of slapstick comedy and obvious double entendres that flitter about.

For me, there is two stand out points to this show: Firstly, the highly effective blend of comedy incorporated into song. It’s just a beautiful way to experience laughs that’s both appropriate to the context of the story, and refreshingly different from stand-up.

Secondly, and a point that I often find underrated, is an atmospheric jazzy band playing in the background. With a score seamlessly integrated into dialogue and song, you begin to forget they’re there. Sorry guys – Please take it as a compliment!

I would recommend this specifically for people who love a mixture of comedy and theatre over stand up. Or, any musicians who are after an appreciative evening – look no further.

If you’re a purist and rather isolated genres rather than a fusion, perhaps look towards something else. This show is the whole package, but that comes at a cost. That cost (for some) is a compromise between the different aspects of theatre.

Worth a see? Yeah, go on. Go grab a few drinks and head over for the late start to cap of your night. Is it for everyone? Probably not. Some people hate fun, so decide if that’s you. 



In a rehearsal room downstairs of the State Theatre Centre I was one of the last to enter and crossed the floor to my seat. There was a man sitting on a couch in the middle of the stage but he was already in character, and barely noticeable. It was a low-fi stage setting of a small apartment where all but blended pineapples would occur. Door frame, couch and packing boxes provided the hardware to this Megan Hollier and Gemma Hall project, that pits two opposing characters against each other for a night of introspection and cocktails.

Charles (George Ashworth) has just stopped packing his apartment to have dinner, unaware as to how his night was about to change, when Mia (Megan Hollier) bursts into what she thinks is her front door. The clash of characters is non-more apparent than at first impression although throughout the play this was a pairing that didn’t match. The dissonance created by the two allows for personal revelations and conversations that wouldn’t normally be had.

The ambitious introvert and the happy-go-lucky extrovert is always a favourite pairing of mine and it is no different on this occasion. Odd Socks is well-paced and Megan and George give great performances. It traps you in its awkwardness early and lets the actors open it up toward the end and they deliver a great climatic scene.

4/5 Stars

Odd Socks is on tonight and tomorrow (Sat 4th) at the The Flaming Locomotive Engine Room, State Theatre Centre. 

See the Fringeworld website for tickets and showtimes.

Sammy J & Randyland – FRINGE REVIEWS

The tall and impossibly lanky Sammy J is back in Perth with his purple felt comedic companion Randy to present to you their theme park dream.

The comedic duo have built up quite a following and the Perth Town Hall was completely sold out for a show in which one man and one puppet sing, dance and make us all laugh as they try to run their own carnival. Although, like infamous puppet musical Avenue Q, the word puppet doesn’t necessarily mean kid humour. Quite the opposite in fact.With multiple mentions of “puppet penis”, the humour was definitely more R-rated so no kids allowed!

The basic premise was a show in which the duo showed, through a series of flashbacks, the rise and fall of their (fake) dream carnival as man and puppet battle to take control over the theme park. This is a scripted play of sorts but you get to see everything from people getting eaten by orcas to a puppet inside a fake man costume. Trust me, it’ll make more sense once you’re there.

The show was technically impressive too with the duo pulling out all the stops to make their dream of a  theme park come to life. Think shadow puppetry, a few costume changes and a large juicebox container that housed Randy for part of the show. They say you should never work with children or animals but they never said anything about puppets? The multiple puppeteers bringing Randy to life were pretty seamless with their transitions as Randy appeared to move about the stage, play dead, emote and generally be an R-rated puppet to everyone’s enjoyment.

The best moments would have been the times they went completely off script. Whether that was when they were giggling at their own off-the-cuff jokes or asking the audience to name a local Perth reference they could include, things quickly spiralled away from the main comedy script but the majority of the audience was laughing more than ever.  A highlight would be the non-scripted revelation that they couldn’t use prop bowling balls on stage because last time they accidentally crushed a man’s foot in Melbourne yet still had to show them so they could be “tax deductible” balls.

All in all, this was one great show that did leave my face hurting afterwards because I was laughing almost non-stop. That’s how you know a Fringeworld show has left you happy and satisfied!

4.5/5 stars

Sammy J & Randyland is still playing until February the 5th at the Perth Town Hall.

See the Fringeworld website for tickets and showtimes.

The unTrue Detective – FRINGE REVIEWS

Lets start the Fringe season with a classic theatrical comedy. Nothing whets the appetite for what’s to come more than a blend of quiet chuckles and thoughtful intrigue. The show ‘The unTrue Detective” does not disappoint.

Now spurred on to see every show under the sun, it was great to see something at the award winning venue “Noodle Palace” in Northbridge. A few drinks and some noodles pre-show certainly doesn’t hurt.

“The unTrue Detective” had the intimate crowd on the edge of their seats (although that could have been the uncomfortable seating). While not filling the room with screaming laughter, the subtle digs and ‘red herrings’ left the audience with a constant ear-to-ear grin.

Effective lighting and a small venue really added to the shows appeal. Without revealing too much, a sense of direct communication and internal monologue from star character ‘McNab’ was the real highlight.

If you are after layers of complicated story, this show is not for you. But if what you seek is an evening of cheeky comments, laughs and a good time, this is the show for you.


          Enjoy a pre-show feed and drink to add a bit more to your night.

          For $16 tickets, you do get your money’s worth in the 40-minute show.

Tickets available at: https://www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/event/untrue_detective/7a5b6dbf-bf4a-4228-a3b0-c91e65b61077/

Circle- Theatre Review


Five friends plan together to take a road trip despite it being quite difficult since they have different schedules. Having been friends since High school, they’ve continued to keep in touch even though they no longer hang out like they did back in High school. Several events that happened in the flashbacks were relatable. Hanging out with friends playing video games, watching tv, going to parties, seeing movies or just chilling.

The script was well written and the circumstances of the events had very concise timing.
The dialogue was clever and often humourous. Sean Wcislo’s writing style has developed exponentially since Roommates live which was produced in . There was a fascinating twist to the genre of tragicomedy in Circle, beginning in the end. The play catered towards high school and university styled issues and themes. The events were enriched by the common history between the friends. Their friendship became very realistic through the various flashbacks and believable for the audience.

On stage the set was minimal, a couch and camping gear. The set was used very effectively. Projected on the screen, was a date, 13/05/2016 for the flashbacks it changed several times during the play. The actors and technicians did well with creating smooth transitions between flashbacks. They made them obvious by using the couch on the left (right stage). The sound and lighting were suitably designed and complemented the play’s action brilliantly.

The play was about friends and being challenged by life but still supporting each other. It was very funny, but near the end it was touching and somewhat sombre. It’s worth watching as people might find that it can be quite cathartic. Please be aware of strong language and supposed alcohol consumption.

Highly recommended, Rating 7/10

Circle is still showing tonight and Saturday at 7pm 29th, 30th July, Studio 411 is located on South Street, Murdoch University campus. Carpark 4 is the best place for parking.

Play- Circle
Presented by Modicum Theatre Perth Inc. Written by Sean Wcislo and directed by Leigh Fitzpatrick, Photography by Beck Thorman

Circle- FB event
Modicum Theatre Perth Inc.
Trybooking Tickets

Frankenstein- Theatre Review


Going into the foyer, people cluster in groups, excitedly anticipating the beginning of the play. At around 7pm, the doors open and people begin to enter the theatre in droves. Sitting at the back row,I was ready to see Frankenstein performed on stage. Preparing myself, I eagerly wait for the opening scene, my eyes straining in the dark to take notes.

It was a marvellous show, very in depth on the events surrounding Victor’s life and the creature’s journey since his creation. I was conflicted between whether I should sympathise with Victor or the creature, as both of them were morally divided, carrying guilt and loss. Victor Frankenstein, the main protagonist, uses such stark and eloquent language. Amongst all the gore, humorous scenes are scattered in between the main action. A story weaved on stage before an enraptured audience.

There were two acts, the first was about one and a half hours and then the second act was about an hour. This was still surprising considering most of the main events from the novel were included so timing could’ve been longer. It was quite succinct. With a cast of twenty-one actors, there was always something happening on stage. It was highly engaging and everyone gave splendid performances. Besides Victor Frankenstein and the creature, the landlord, Henry and the captain stood out to me.

The play begins on a boat in the middle of the Arctic Sea. The crew and captain have caught a stowaway and demand he be watched. It’s highly suspicious to be out here. Victor Frankenstein, played by Scott McArdle, tells the captain his life story, flashing back 15 years to when he grew up in a Swiss family. His father, mother, brother William, friend Henry and adopted sister Elizabeth. His mother’s death during his childhood wasa turning point. His father avenges her death and the family never fully recovered. To escape the solemn household, Victor decides he was to be a doctor. He travels to Germany in hope of studying to become a physician. In search of lodgings, his misfortune leads him to renting the attic and having to put up with his crazed landlord. In his growing, morbid fascination with life and death, he ignores that he has a responsibility as a doctor. In the present, Victor chases after his own memories, haunted by his decisions and his guilt. In the second act, the creature goes through its life of suffering, starting when Victor abandoned him.

Written by Mary Shelley, the script was adapted for the theatre by Scott McArdle. Frankenstein was originally a novel and considered literature. McArdle managed somehow to write the script, direct and act in the same play. Originally Aaron Jay was going to be Victor Frankenstein, though something happened last minute that prevented him from continuing. Scott was able to take on the role within 6 weeks. Being experienced in adapting to the demand  is a distinguishing ability for an actor to have.

The production was able to find a way to have wolves and a horse on stage, with enough fine detail to provoke the imagination. The smoke machine was frequently used  for storms, fires and foggy streets, allowing for a realistic atmosphere. The costumes were very practical and precise. The sound was effective in application and enhanced the impact of the action on stage. The lighting was elaborate and complemented the sound-scape.

The same set as Dracula and The Mummy was used, adapted specifically for this performance. It suited well in the differing settings but the set was installed with a ‘fold out’ bed and I noticed that it was already stained before the action began. This is most likely from one of the rehearsals or the preview on Wednesday. The bed itself was a great addition to the set, it just slightly disrupted the illusion.

This production of Frankenstein retains the potent horror and mystery of Mary Shelley’s novel. With a creative production team and a skilled cast of 21 people collaborating, the production was remarkable. It was both shocking and delightfully gruesome, yet not overly violent. I highly recommend seeing Frankenstein at Nexus Theatre, rating, 8/1013815001_1131536043573986_1478498729_n

Murdoch Open Day
Check out the Nexus Theatre and learn more about Murdoch Theatre at the Murdoch Open Day on Sunday. There will be a presentation and several performances throughout the day at the South Street Campus. 10am-4pm

Upcoming Plays at Murdoch University

Circle, July 28th-30th, Studio 411 Written by Sean Wcislo and directed by Leigh Fitzpatrick. A group of friends take a roadtrip, going on a journey physically and emotionally. Their friendships are severely tested when they get lost. 6;30pm open, 7pm start

In August
2084- Presented by Murdoch University PHD candidates, starting August 18th. Nexus Theatre. A musical, inspired by the novel of George Orwell- 1984. The original script for the production is the product of Sarah Courtis’ and Ellin Sear’s PhD theses. = More information will come some. Have a look at the description on the FB event. 

Frankenstein- FB Page
Second Chance Theatre
Circle-FB Event
2084-FB Event
Murdoch Open Day

The Mummy Rises- Review

The Mummy Rises successfully takes the mummy, a classic monster, into a play riddled with humorous dialogue and ardent characters, without losing the horror and intrigue of the Gothic genre.

Play: The Mummy Rises
Director/Writer: Tim Brain
Theatre Company: Nexus Theatre and From The Hip Productions
Showings: July 14, July 15th, July 16th @7:30pm, Saturday matinée @2pm
Location: Nexus Theatre (Murdoch University, 90 South street 6150 WA)

The play begins with a spotlight on a book and Indiana Jones-esque music. Then the sound of chiseling before the tomb is entered. One wall is covered in hieroglyphics and on another lays a sarcophagus. Act One is set in Egypt where a team of archaeologists set out on an expedition to find Artek Bay’s tomb.  Those who disturb Artek Bay’s tomb are warned. But will they heed that warning? What would the consequences be if they don’t?

The comedic dialogue in the play contrasted well with the presence of the mummy. Issues such as gender roles and domestic violence were also explored in the script. There was also a bit of British humor which helped elevate some of the potentially awkward moments and silences in the British Museum. Although some of the characters die, most of them tragic, there isn’t much violence or gore in this play. It’s definitely worth watching for the comedy and the production’s effective technical elements. It’s still a gothic play, since the mummy remains menacing as the proceeding events build the suspense.

The cobwebs and dust were great on stage when the archaeologists enter the tomb. Using smoke for the dust did wonders for the Egyptian setting. The music and sound effects improved action and helped with foreshadowing. It was good decision to have voice-over during the setting change and near the end of the play. The voice-overs worked well in advancing the narrative and offstage events (Clare Waldren). The scene change between Egypt to the British Museum was snappy. The lighting choices were clever, specifically having the lights flicker at key moments and using flashing side lights to represent the press.

Tay Broadley’s (Charlie Cameron) nonverbals were spot on and used to great comedic effect. Timothy Brain’s (John Waldren) Irish accent was consistent and his  characterization was precise. Besides acting in the play, Tim also wrote the script and directed The Mummy Rises. Andrew David (Alfred Bray) was convincing in both his relationship with Clare and acting through his character’s affliction after what occurred in Egypt. Andrew Dawson (Mummy/Artek Bay) was quite menacing as the mummy, creeping across the stage as he stalked the archaeologists. Kudos for having to stay in the coffin for so long! Lord Howard Preston (Dean Lovatt) was the financial supporter of the expedition and in his quest for profit and gratitude, he steps over other’s feet to achieve. His wife is the one he relieves his frustration on and karma has it way of “boomeranging”. Lovatt did great in playing his character as the semi-villain and aristocrat.


Christie Strauss (Clare Waldren) was one of the many highlights of the play with her striking performance as the female heroine, Clare Waldren. As a career-driven archaeologist, her interactions with Alfred were sweet, yet highly confident. Her character was strong and went against traditional gender roles, most notably in her dialogue. Kate Willoughby (Maisie Dalrymple) was the museum’s  librarian and she played a vital role in the final fight scene. She did well in creating the character and experimenting with the librarian caricature and British humor, in dialogue and non-verbally.

Abbey McCaughan’s (Cora Shakley) chosen accent did wonders for her character. Her decisions in interacting with Maisie and Clare on stage helped convey their friendships. Bella Doyle (Abrar Ali) was surprising whenever she appeared on stage. Doyle’s accent and character’s background were possibly researched to be accurate, as her portrayal was very believable. Her role in the play was vitally interlinked with the progression of events both on stage and offstage. Anna Weir’s (Lady Harriet Preston) character was portrayed as brave, superstitious and strong-willed. Lady Harriet’s relationship with her husband, Lord Preston was tense due to her believing in superstitions and him being violent in their marriage. Weir had a strong stage presence and her interactions with Lord Preston were quite heartbreaking.

Overall, I have greatly enjoyed both of the Gothic plays I have seen so far with the acting, set design and technical elements all impressive. Next up comes Frankenstein! The very last in the trio of Gothic stories that have been brought to the stage.

The Mummy Rises-FB Event
Tickets link for Mummy and Frankenstein


Dracula – Theatre Review


Music begins to play. On stage, furniture is covered in dust speckled sheets. Half the stage hidden by curtains.  In Dr. Seward’s sanitarium, a man is led astray by his insatiable desires, drawn to madness and hunted in the night…

The characters in the play each had their own unique quirks. I personally was interested in how the actors developed their characters non-verbally and when they were bystanders to the action/dialogue. Sometimes the actions of characters and their relationships has a greater impact than dialogue. Van Helsing (Jason Dohle) and Count Dracula (Joel Sammels) went past their stereotypical counterparts. The relationship between Lucy Seward (Toni Vernon) and John Harker (Phillip Hutton) appeared realistically strained on stage, with Lucy’s illness tragically postponing them from being romantically involved or getting married.

The Murdoch Theatre Company has collaborated with the director of Lit by Limelight (a children’s theatre) to develop a set that would be adaptable for the  different productions. For Dracula, the set was designed by Ally Snell with  designs being both sophisticated and durable.  Throughout the play, the stage hands were ‘disguised’ as staff at the Sanitorium which helped with snappy and precise scene changes.

The lighting added to the overall mood of the performance and greatly transformed the stage between settings and scene changes. Lighting was designed by Scott McArdle and manned by Tay Broadley. The sound-scape effectively improved the underlying tension and suspense. The sound was designed by Tim Brain.

The costuming was reminiscent of 19th century fashion and suitably chosen. The costumes for Count Dracula and his brides stood out the most. Costumes were designed by Sophie Braham. The vampires wore coordinated dark red and black outfits. Their undead appearance emphasized with contact lenses, long fingernails, ruby red tattoos and pale complexions. Make up was designed by Leah Toyne. The main special effects in the play included voiceovers, wolf and bat sound effects. The most notable is the use of fog to signal Dracula’s transformation as a bat.

Overall, a great performance was put on by all with all the suspense and terror you could need and my excitement for the next two Gothic plays, The Mummy Rises and Frankenstein,  only increased!

Playwright & Origins of Script

The 1924 stage play was written by Hamilton Deane and was a three act play. Hamilton Deane (1880-1958) was an irish actor, playwright and director. John Balderston was hired by Horace Liveright to revise the play in 1927 for Broadway productions with American audiences. John L. Balderston (1889-1954) was an American playwright and screenwriter. The play was originally presented at the Fulton Theatre in New York City.

The play, Dracula originates from the 1897 Bram Stoker novel, which was first published in the United Kingdom. Bram Stoker was an irish author who started writing in 1872. His interest and writing mainly focused on irish folktales, occult and the supernatural. His focus on these developed while he was bedridden until the age of seven from an unidentified illness. Supernatural folktales have lived on for centuries, from vampires and alongside Stoker’s illness, the story of Dracula was developed. The character of Count Dracula was inspired by the Romanian ruler Vlad Dracula (Vlad the Impaler) who ruled Walachia several times between 1456 and 1462. Since then, several spinoffs and revisions have occurred and it has inspired other books and films around the subject of vampires and the supernatural.

Play: Dracula (Three shows, @ 7:30pm, July 7th, 8th & 9th)
Location: Nexus Theatre (90 South Street, Murdoch University, Carpark 3/near library)
Synopsis: A classic gothic story reimagined on stage, with characters such as the famous Van Helsing and Dracula. Van Helsing is hired to investigate the mystery of Lucy Seward’s illness and its possible link to Renfield’s madness. The play switches settings between Dr Seward sanitorium and their neighbour’s bachelor pad at Carfax.
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Horror Rating: MA15+
Director: John King, presented by Murdoch Theatre Company
Writer: Hamilton Deane, Revised by: John L. Balderston

Dracula-FB Event
Murdoch Theatre Company-FB Page
John King (director) Interview
Dracula- Original Script (1927)
Dracula- 1897 novel
Bram Stoker- Biography information
Vlad Dracula- Britannica Encyclopedia