The first play in both our 2012 Lawler Studio Season, and our 2012 Education Season, Boy Girl Wall begins this week, and we’re rather excited. This multi-award winning, critically acclaimed, nation-touring show from creative team The Escapists sees actor Lucas Stibbard transform himself from Boy, into Girl, Wall, and more than 20 animate and inanimate characters in a fast-paced 90-minute show. His incredible performance earned him a Helpmann Award nomination alongside Geoffrey Rush, Richard Roxburgh, and Toby Schmitz in 2011.
One man, twenty-five characters – what on earth can this show be about? We’re glad you asked. It’s about string theory, perverted aliens, uncooperative laptops, hell-spawned magpies and asshole bosses. It’s about making your way through the minefield of modern life, paying the rent, holding down a job, eating right, working out, managing stress, making sure you top up your Go Card, carving out a place in the world – and still somehow finding the time to play and explore the limitless, unfathomable universe of love.
Lucas Stibbard and a sock puppet on stage in Boy Girl Wall.
As you may have gathered, the action is constantly jumping from place to place. The time is now, the place is Brisbane and the two main characters, Thom and Alethea, unknowingly live in adjoining apartments, divided only by a conspiratorial wall. The play leaps light years back to the beginning of time, fast forwards to the beginning of conception, breezes into Thom’s workplace, journeys to Alethea’s self-obsessed publisher’s office, bounces into the children’s story room at the library, and skates the treacherous terrain of Montague Street with its killer magpie.
With so much action coming from just one man, the set design was deliberately kept simple: chalkboards, a chair, and a projector act as the main backdrop and props. This minimalist design allows the audience to insert themselves into the magical, whimsical setting, and be swept away says co-playwright Matthew Ryan.
‘By keeping the walls blank and then providing reference points, whether they are design or performative or word references, they allow the audience to imagine and conjure in their heads, and that is very rewarding for an audience member,’ he says.
Lucas Stibbard on stage in Boy Girl Wall.
Realisers Matthew Ryan, Lucas Stibbard, Neridah Waters and Sarah Winter had many sources of inspiration for the play. If you enjoy the work of Dylan Thomas (specifically Under Milk Wood), the one-man shows of Daniel Kitson, the methodology of Robert Lepage or the music of Sufjan Stevens, you’re sure to enjoy Boy Girl Wall. The performance is enhanced by plenty of live music that helps capture the many characters, according to musician Neridah Waters.
‘The character of The Wall is a hopeless romantic and also a bit clunky and awkward. So with the piano I created a little song for him, a romantic and quite reflective song that on the toy piano sounds quite dodgy, but sits well with the character,’ Neridah says. ‘On the glockenspiel I have this reflective music that I used to play as a kid, and I began to play it with Lucas’s character whenever he would think about outer space or about maths and it seemed to sit well with those moments.’
You can learn more about some of the weird and wonderful characters from the play in the teaser video, below. And if you’re a teacher (or you just really like to get inside the inner workings of a play) you can access teacher’s notes in our Education section .
Boy Girl Wall is playing at the MTC Theatre, Lawler Studio from 17 April to 4 May.
This post contains extracts from an interview by Meg Upton, and from the Program Notes and Teachers Resources from the 2011 production at La Boite Theatre, Brisbane. Photography by Al Caeiro and The Escapists.