Thursday, March 7, 2019


Unbecoming. Written and directed by Cathy Petocz. 8pm. Wed Mar 6 and Fri  Mar 8 at The Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre.

Thorson Photography

Cathy Petocz’s short but powerful one woman piece Unbecoming has two showings as part of a season of independent Canberra performance at Canberra Theatre’s Courtyard Studio.

It’s about a dead girl. Like those on the slab in detective TV shows but one with a voice and a lot of questions. Ado’s still in her nightclothes. The afterlife hasn’t started yet and she has one chance to haunt the living and to find out how she died, since she doesn’t remember.

She’s crazy about Shakespeare and Hamlet’s soliloquy plays a big part in her questioning. As do the characters of her best girl friend and a boy they both know. Is this about murder? Has she come back from the dead to pinpoint her killer?

The stage is bare except for a small desk and eccentrically rigged but evocative lighting by Anthony Arblaster. Atmospheric sound design, including some fairly disturbing work with the voices of the afterlife, is by Cilt (Hannah de Feyter and Becki Whitton).

The writing’s sharp and Isobel Burton’s performance is right to the point.  She shows us a no nonsense young woman dealing with post death trauma in a feeling but intelligent way. And she also makes present the difficulties of Ado’s life and relationships. Burton brings energy, humour and a strong physical presence to the work.

On Wednesday night support act Happy Axe (Emma Kelly) offered enthusiastically received eerie violin, voice, saw and synthesising, enjoyably reminiscent of some of the more disturbing film scores of Bernard Herrmann. Friday night will see support by electronic pop Aphir.

This all too brief season also features dancer/choreographer James Batchelor in his own piece, Hyperspace, with music support acts Pheno (Mar 7) and Reuben Ingall (Mar 9).  

Alanna Maclean