Oh No! Satan Stole My Pineal Gland! would have to be one of the fringiest Melbourne Fringe Festival show names this year. Written by Kirby Medway, the twisted comedy is an ode to every awkward, hellish conversation you’ve ever endured to make a friend in an increasingly bewildering and segregated world. Directors Jean Tong and Lou Wall have pulled together a devilish cast consisting of Sarah Fitzgerald, Cheryl Ho, Liam Maguire, Natesha Somasundaram and Wall that brings reality and Satan into the one world.
Medway's creative process for writing this show required much research
and investigation, predominantly in his dreams. "The show came from me
trying to write in a more irrational and impulsive way by throwing a lot
of different ideas together to see what happened. I wanted to write
something to do with reality as something unstable and fluid but present
it in a fun and gentle way," he explains. "I was thinking about a
number of things that might not typically be considered part of reality
that still impact on my life in very real ways. Dreams, as individual as
they are, are an experience I thought people would find easy to relate
to. I kept a dream journal which I used to inspire a lot of the first
draft and generally tried to stay open to anything going on in my life
that was impacting on my reality and allowed them into my writing.
"The other starting point was Satan. Just before I started writing this,
I saw a horror movie which I found disappointing because of its
reliance on satanic panic tropes. It's a shame that Satan and by
extension Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism etc. are still being given
negative connotations when I feel like a lot of communities associated
those things are generally positive in nature," he says. "A lot of the
things that I find scary at the moment are to do with political leaders
or powerful organisations operating under the pretense of Christian
values. That gave me this desire to write something relating to Satan
that was more complex and ultimately fun, hoping that it might create
positive associations with Satan for an audience. So, I basically tried
to smoosh these things together along with various other ideas in the
hope of making something that retained aspects of these initial ideas
while also becoming its own thing."
With Tong and Wall's extensive directing and producing experience,
Medway has been confident in their vision on bringing his work to life.
"I was in the same writing course as Jean at VCA at the end of last
year, so I was already a fan of her writing and I loved Lou’s fringe
show last year that Jean also worked on, Lou Wall’s Drag Race, so I knew
the show was in good hands," he tells me. "I’m pretty bad at explaining
myself when it comes to my writing, so Jean and Lou have been great at
finding clear ways to approach the text that have helped me clarify what
the writing is actually doing. They’ve also shown me that there is
always more room for weirdness and gags."
These sentiments are also shared by Wall, who saw strong potential when
reading Medway's script. "Jean and I had been looking to build on the
co-producing we’ve done with Lou Wall’s Drag Race and because the text
can be so subjective, we wanted to be able to bounce off another person
while forming the vision of the show. I’ve also been interested in going
into directing, so when something this funny and unique came along with
a fantastic cast, it was pretty much just the ideal opportunity," she
Their highly collaborative and open approach to the show's development
has resulted in not only plenty of laughs and banter during rehearsal,
but has strengthened the work in surprising ways. "It's amazing if we
can find a five minute pockets where we can get people to stop
laughing," Wall says. "Everyone’s commitment to just trying different
things over and over again, and willingness to go wherever the text and
direction takes us, makes it a very exciting process and keeps things
As the show deals with 'hellish awkward conversations' to make a friend,
it's only natural I ask Medway and Wall about their own stories with
this. "I actually don’t know if I’ve ever made a friend out of those
conversations but I have strengthened some friendships through the
bonding that happens while complaining about those conversations later,"
For Wall though, it's a slightly different story. "Once at an awards
Gala this girl went up to the stage to collect an award but her A4
nametag was stuck to her ass, so I had to be like HEY YOU HAVE SOMETHING
ON YOUR ASS, but she didn’t hear. So I just got up and followed her to
get it off but when she turned around, she thought I was touching her
butt," she recalls. "Now we’re best mates."
1. If you had to name your child after a vegetable what would it be?Kirby: Corn.
Lou: Belle Pepper.
2. Which reality TV show would you most like to appear/compete on?Kirby: Ghost Hunters but as one of the ghosts.
Ummm, Survivor, but I do worry about the risk of UV rays. Also The
Bachelor – I’m gay so I’d love to just rock up and compete… with the
3. A movie that sums up my life is
Lou: Cats, the new motion capture version.
4. What's the one thing that happened during a show you were involved with that you wish you could forget?
I actually can’t think of anything specific. I think most of my regrets
probably happen after a show when I think of all the things I wished
I’d written instead.
Lou: This one time I was playing Titania in A
Midsummer Night’s Dream and in that scene where she falls asleep I fell
asleep and Oberon had to gently pinch my arm to wake me up.
5. Art is ...
Lou: link in my bio.
Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts,
Season: 21 - 29 September | Tues - Sat 8:00pm, Sun 7:00pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $22 Conc | $20 Group 4+, Cheap
Tuesday | $20 Preview
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival
Image Credits: Alexis Desaulniers-Lea