The Eisteddfod | Stuck Pigs Squealing

The EisteddfodI walk into the Downstairs Theatre at Belvoir Street to be greeted by an intricately detailed miniature set, sitting like a tiny balcony, looking out into the audience. The edges of the stage are cluttered with a variety of old books and children’s dolls, there’s a small bed one corner, a little black board and radio hang from the roof. The space is stuffed to the gills but somehow doesn’t feel crowded. Perhaps it is the plastic safari scene spinning on the 7” gramophone that fills the otherwise claustrophobic space with a sense of escapism. This attention to detail is carried throughout the entirety of Stuck Pigs Squealing’s production of The Eisteddfod and is one of the many contributing factors to the shows success.

The Eisteddfod opens with Lally Katz (writer) providing a short narrative that introduces the protagonists, Abalone (Luke Mullins), Gerture (Katherine Tonkin) and their situation; the siblings were born into a house torn asunder by adultery and when their parents are both killed in a tragic pruning incident the children begin to withdraw from society and construct their own lives, fulfilling their growing adult desires with role-play and fantasy. Abalone dreams of winning the local eisteddfod with all the associated glory, while his sister Gerture slowly slips away into her own private world where she works as a teacher. Afraid of being left alone Abalone offers Gerture a supporting roll in his solo production of Macbeth for this years eisteddfod, but are either of them ready to face reality?

Both Mullins and Tonkin deliver outstanding performances, not only nailing the fragile subjects of Abalone and Gerture but also showing great versatility through the varied roles they take on as the characters of Abalone and Gerture’s fantasies. One moment they’re reminiscing together about their childhood, the next performing Macbeth, the next re-enacting scenes between Gerture and her lover. Each change is seamless and at no point was I confused as to who or what I was watching. All of this is complemented by Chris Kohn’s astute direction whereby Katz’s sharp dialogue and deliciously black script are brought to life.

The whole production is as tight as Costello at the end of the financial year, but far more satisfactory. The opening night audience chortled at Abalone and Gerture’s idiosyncratic flaws only to be left gasping at real tragedy of their situation. Kohn has directed his cast like a conductor would a symphony with crescendos and diminuendos placed exactly where the score demands. The more of Katz’s writing I experience the more I like her style and if this production is anything to go by I would love to see more from Stuck Pigs Squealing. This is a magnificent display of contemporary Australian theatre and should not be missed by anyone.

Arts Project Australia present a Stuck Pigs Squealing production in association with B Sharp
The Eisteddfod
by Lally Katz

Belvoir St Downstairs Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills
Friday 8 June- 24, 2007
Tues 7pm, Weds-Sat 8.15pm, Sun 5.15pm
$29/$23 (preview $20, Cheap Tues pay-what-you-can, min. $10)
9699 3444 or

{mosgmap mapid=31}

Most read Sydney reviews

I’m With Her | Darlinghurst Theatre Company

I’m With Her seeks to see the difference between men and women and propagate the idea, the...

Simple Souls | subtlenuance

Art imitates the artistic life in Simple Souls, Paul Gilchrist’s latest show for prolific...

School of Rock the Musical

School of Rock the Musical is a jovial night out with some great talent and musical jams to boot.

Coram Boy | bAKEHOUSE Theatre Company

Epic in scope, staging and soaring humanity, Coram Boy is a must see.

Mullum Music Festival 2019

Never crowded (but mostly sold-out) this Mullum Music Festival weaves its magic throughout the...

Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required