Skip to main content


COLDER by Lachlan Philpott presented by PUSSYCATOMOKO at the Griffin Theatre.

This is another of the curated independant theatre co-operative productions presented as part of the Stablemate season. This is the best new Australian play I have witnessed this year.

Developed with the financial assistance of the R.E. ROSS TRUST, Philpott not only breaks with traditional structure and form in his style, he creates a world with a keen eye for authentic detail and depth, has a masterly control of plotting and character revelation with a musician’s ear for rhythm and cadence, the ability to set a theme or subject and to know when to repeat it, develop it, contrast it. The text is like a sextet for six voices. Each one of these voices at different moments are either a chorus or a duet or a solo. Each one of these guises are a character and with a subtly delineated journey and personality whether as Chorus or individual. This text has the same kind of interest as Andrew Bovell’s SPEAKING IN TONGUES. Add to this a beautiful command of language with poetic imagery of some potency. This is a theatre text of some quality. One needs to want to go to the theatre for reasons other than just entertainment. THE SEED; MEN LOVE AND THE MONKEYBOY; RUBEN GUTHERIE are conventional in almost every way along side this work. COLDER is brave and rewarding in ways that these other texts have not even begun to investigate.

This production needs more time in rehearsal to allow the director and actors to be absolutely on top of this script musically. It is here that the actors need to concentrate because the form of the journey is relatively unique for most audiences, so that the audiences need to be coaxed onto the “moving train” and trained to listen before it can move into gear and speed off. (It is like what a company of actors must do when embarking on Act 1 Scene1 of a Shakespeare and most texts of heightened language and new form, the audience have to be “trained” to ATTEND in a way that is different from their usual experience.) The performance I saw was little jangly to start with but the admirable ensemble of the performers gradually found a harmony of rhythm and exchange. A sophisticated Sextet of a Music-Play began to reveal itself. I was deeply moved at the end by the experience and on so many levels of appreciation. Go. (Later in the Season Roland Schimmelpfennig’s ARABIAN NIGHT is to be presented and it will take you on a similar journey.)

Wouldn’t Richard Wherret love to have had this text in his hands? I hope the major Companies around Australia have sent in a spy to give the play the possibility of a bigger exposure. Congratulations to the Writer, Director, Producing Company and the Actors. The Actors are admirable for their pursuit of an unselfish ensemble. It has one more week of performance. If you are a connoisseur of the theatre this is definitely worth your time.

3 replies to “Colder”

  1. I was uninspired by Colder. I agree the writing had strength, interest and some beautiful images. However I felt it was let down by some of the acting. Matt Walker was wonderful with the kind of energy that is comforting and assured. He held his characters cards close to his chest, in a way that hints at a depth we will never touch (as opposed to ‘mysterious’ acting in which you know there is nothing behind it). Catherine Terracini (?) also possessed a beautiful presence onstage, with a well judged emotional range. In fact I found her own exploration of the heartbeats (bob-bom, bob-bom), the most moving moment of the piece. However I felt there were some great moments that were poorly handled by other cast members. I felt, in particular the two ‘chorus’ actors, lacked the skill of the others. These actors were required to possess the range to play multiple characters, and yet they felt like the actors with the least range in the piece. The faces pulled by these two were perhaps my least favourite moments of the piece. I wanted to be moved. The loss of innocence is a great tragedy that was handled with delicacy and care in the writing. However it required the same sensitivity by the whole ensemble to invite us on the journey.

  2. I disagree with anonymous.
    I’ve seen this play twice and both of the ensemble/chorus actors you refer to have stood out for me in different ways. Irvine is particularly effective early in the play, playing four or five characters in the space of fifteen or so minutes (A highlight being his earlier scene as Steve with Walker) and O’Connell shows great depth through the deteriation of her characters relationship with David. I think your point here is poorly argued anonymous. This is an ensemble piece and to single these two out(The Chorus)is unfair and petty. Both performances are memorable and key to the plays success. No mean feat for the Chorus.

  3. These actors, like so many in the independant theatre scene have worked for no actual pay. Realising the very complicated emotional and intellectual achitecture of this play would be tough enough on equity rates with full day rehearsals. Try scraping together enough money to pay the rent and rehearsing in your own time at night and then see how much criticism the actors in this play and many other deserve. They are after all the people who bring such exciting new writing to audiences since most mainstream companies are not yet brave enough to stage such work.

Comments are closed.