In their award winning show Cactus and the Mime, Prickly Silence told the story of a young couple's relationship and dreams. With their new show Purgastory, we now follow the stories of various characters across time who are all in pursuit of their own passions in life. While telling stories with rich character building and surprise narrative turns in the same vein as their first work, Purgastory also has Caitlin Spears and Roby Favretto creating an overarching narrative that weaves through the singular stories that are presented.
What is evident with Purgastory is the dedication and flair that Spears and Favretto have in bringing characters to life. While most only appear for roughly ten minutes, they are all committed performances and authentic portrayals. The first story is genuinely touching and it's nice to see that in his role of a woman, Favretto treats it just as serious as when he is later playing a man on a construction site. Spears is at her best as the sexist and homophobic spouting construction worker while still managing to make the audience care about him.
The pair have written some highly entertaining stories with great doses of absurdist humour mixed with emotional realism. The twists within each one are constantly surprising and try as you might guess how they will end, the rug is pulled out from under us each time, making us re-evaluate everything we have just seen and working away at how this piece fits into the bigger picture. There are a few instances when the humour does misfire and this is mainly in the first story with the stream of sexual innuendo and puns, partly because of the context of the story and partly because this sort of humour is not repeated with the other tales.
The conclusion to Purgastory satisfyingly ties up each story's thread, and while it feels like our characters have had the endings they deserve, Prickly Silence throws in another twist that make us think twice. While the characters of Purgastory often struggle to find the balance of following their passion and being patient in achieving their dreams, Prickly Silence has fortunately displayed both the passion and the patience in crafting original and affecting theatre. With two productions now under their belt, Prickly Silence is proving that it is a theatre company to keep your eye on.
Click here to read my interview with Caitlin Spears.
Venue: Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol St, North Melbourne
Season: Until 29 September | Tues - Sat 7:45pm, Sun 6:45pm
Length: 50 minutes
Tickets: $24.50 Full | $18.50 Conc
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival