BWW Review: THE DEAD DEVILS OF COCKLE CREEK at La Boite
In our contemporary society, there are a plethora of artistic and literary works that aim to explore aspects of the current political landscape and harness change amongst the masses. A co-production between La Boite and Playlab, actor and playwright Kathryn Marquet's The Dead Devils of Cockle Creek is set a small, isolated shack in the south-western Tasmania wilderness and follows the story of George Templeton, an environmental activist trying to prevent the mass extinction of the Tasmanian devil. Other characters include George's flatmate the ranger and chicken nugget fanatic Harris Robb, wildlife poacher Mickey O'Toole and heavily right-winged high schooler Destinee Lee.
Under the direction of Ian Lawson, the piece reflects and critiques our ever-changing society as well as confronts the morality of ethics of the human race through harnessing the stylistic conventions of a black comedy.as lens to view the black and white issue in a new arena. A prime example of this are the character tropes of Destinee and her anti-science, eco-ignorant beliefs such as her belief that the earth is flat and her supportive stance on One Nation's xenophobic regimes, even though she is of the Asian descent, leaving the audience unsure as to whether they should be laughing or not. This notion of ignorance is also put into play when Harris learns of the ingredients of the celebratory chicken nuggets and denies that he ever liked them, firmly believing that it is the immediate response to his mistake and that all will be forgiven, similar to how humans treat nature. Mickey and George are the embodiment of the age-old debate between religious values and scientific discoveries as they debate, alike to politicians, as to whether climate change is real or not.
The aesthetic of the Tasmanian wilderness is captured by Vilma Mattila's simplistic open design of a hut, making the audience feel as if they too were a part of the action, complete with kitchen, a fire, bathroom, video surveillance and all. Mattila's costume design additionally supported the earthly colours of the flat, reflective of both the characters connection and divorce with nature. For example, Destinee's costume was full of bright, artificial colours whereas the others wore more earthly colours. Christine Felmingham's lighting design enhanced the atmosphere of the piece, supported by Wil Hughes sound design of the forestry landscape.
Although the plot at various intervals dragged on and the chicken nugget storyline felt a bit trivial at times, overall the cast and production team did an incredible job at creating such a poignant piece of art that reflects, educates and confronts its audience about the way in which we exchange and should exchange with mother earth in our post-truth world through the best form of medicine; laughter.
The Dead Devils of Cockle Creek
Presented by La Boite Theatre Company and Playlab
WHERE: The Roundhouse Theatre
WHEN: 10th February - 3rd March