Puntila / Matti @ Kings Cross Theatre

Production photos by Rupert Reid.

“It is easier to rob by setting up a bank than by holding up a clerk.” – Bertolt Brecht

This quote by German Modernist playwright Brecht is the opening description on MK Alpha’s page for Puntila/Matti, and perhaps the most apt and appropriate way to explain this show.

Set the audience up for an enjoyable, mindless night out in Sydney’s Kings Cross theatrical hub only to be immediately knocked down and disappointed. This show is not intended to be watched nor enjoyed like a regular performance.

Fourth-walls are broken, audience members personally called out, asked to perform on stage with the actors, coerced into very uncomfortable situations, and left unsure as to whether they are correctly following along. It’s a surprise if no one walks out during the show.

Puntila/Matti is an adaptation by Doppelgangster of Brecht’s play Mr Puntila and his Man Matti. Presented by MK-Alpha and Kings Cross Theatre, Puntila/Matti has been conceptualised by Tobias Manderson-Galvin, directing and performing alongside Grace Lauer and Antoniette Barbouttis.

The trio each have their own moments to bond with the audience but it is perhaps Manderson-Galvin that is trying to make the audience feel the least comfortable. Sitting next to, interrogating, and even kissing members of the audience, leaves an uneasy feeling throughout the entire show.

In Brecht’s eyes, this show would probably pass as using his famous styles and techniques common to his work. But would he enjoy it? For a play that was originally written in 1940 and first performed in 1948 probably not. However, this show is being performed in 2017 and is subverting the modern viewer. This is not a play designed to be enjoyed by all. It is experimental and aggressive, whilst maintaining a certain wit and comedic approach that will not be palatable to everyone.

Whether intentional or not, the fact that Puntila/Matti is being performed in Kings Cross is incredibly clever. An area once infamous for crime, drugs, and scandal, is slowly gentrifying. The environment is shifting from a once bustling nightlife hub to an expensive, high-rise area. The intersection between rich and poor is becoming more apparent in the suburb, particularly on the main strip. Puntila is an aristocratic land-owner and Matti is his servant. Theatre is more commonly enjoyed by those who can afford it, with Puntila/Matti attempting to shake all of us out of this bubble.

This is anti-theatre with a devilish comedic twist.

Puntila/Matti is on at The Kings Cross Theatre (inside The Kings Cross Hotel) from 25th September – 14th October on Monday – Saturday at 7:30pm. The show is approx 90 minutes with no interval.

Please note: Strong Language, Nudity, Loud Noises, Smoke. Over 18 is advised.

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