By Doug Wright
Featuring Adrian Carr, Adam Ward, Dylan Watson,
Lauren Murtagh, Andrea McCannon, Jordan Armstrong,
Madeline Anderson, Jennifer Ashley,
Isabelle Bertoli, Natasha Broadstock, Sam Brown,
Alan Chambers, Jayden Chivers, Emma Conley,
Genevieve Donaldson, Josephine Eberhard,
Graeme Flynn, Sahara Folan, Taylor James,
Daniel Klemens, Jai Luke, Aimee Sanderson,
Ariel Simone, Gareth Trew, Zak Zavod, Kaska Zielinski
Directed by Chris Baldock
"... In a major coup for Mockingbird Theatre, Wright personally granted the independent company special permission to perform his script....The Arts House at Melbourne’s historic Meat Market Craft Centre could not be a better choice of venue....Mockingbird Theatre’s cast walk a Grand Guignol path lined with blood, copious amounts of flesh, heated melodrama and lashings of black humour. At two hours in length, even in the play’s quieter moments, Quills’ pulsating tension is never once relinquished or its delicate spell broken. Adorned in rags or period costumes with a dress – up box appeal, the cast perform as if they are all slightly unhinged....Imperative to this production’s success as the lunatics of Charenton, the twenty-one strong ensemble exhibit fearless commitment. The group’s movement, framing and placement are also given a choreographic importance in relation to the pandemonium playing around them....Melbourne’s Mockingbird Theatre has quickly earned a reputation for presenting poetic yet radical, cutting edge drama....the repertory company has gone all-out with their most ambitious, confronting and powerful production to date." - Theatre People
"...Mockingbird Theatre’s thoughtful and rambunctious production examines the discussions surrounding art, censorship, religion, sex and insanity with probing detail...For all the perceived contrasts between those (seemingly) in power and those under it Baldock elegantly articulates their fundamental likeness with an ingenious opening in which the roles of the physician, Mrs de Sade, and other principals are selected, in a drum-roll, from a gorgeous scrum of lunatics who skulk around and among us in the auditorium...At its best, this production is mercilessly brilliant, with the scene in which the Abbé hallucinates Madeleine’s resurrection before fornicating with her particularly memorable...This is an effective staging, a Victorian premiere, of a Grand-Guignol-reminiscent horror-comedy delivered by a crack ensemble with unforgettable performances by Carr and Watson. Quills has a lot to say. And Baldock says it well." - Writing By The River
"...Oh, if only all theatre companies were as brave as Mockingbird. Good theatre should be more than just entertaining, it should be always evocative and, when possible, provocative and even confronting. Director Chris Baldock doesn’t shy away from any of these in his production of Doug Wright’s seldom-performed gasp-a-minute play Quills, about the (fictitious) last days of the infamous Marquis de Sade in Charenton asylum....(Baldock) has added an ensemble of ‘Lunatics’ to the asylum, a brilliant visionary stroke, and even the suggestion that we may be viewing a play within a play, as costumes are handed out to the inmates....the lunatics provide marvelous atmosphere and credibility....The Director has found his Marquis de Sade in Adrian Carr, who gives a brilliantly flamboyant and charismatic performance." - Stage Whispers
“…Chris Baldock's direction is bold and daring….His knack for ensemble work and creating moments that are unscripted really make the piece take flight. Each member of the lunatic ensemble do not let their characters waiver for a second, even when they are not centre stage. They create an eerie presence throughout….The play certainly raises many questions about sex, religion, politics and (in)sanity. It is an important piece about the nature of humans. Yes it is challenging and thought provoking. Yes it is disturbing. Yes it creates an emotional response from its audience. It may take a while for it to sink in, but once it does, it stays with you.” - Theatrenerd
“…Quills might be Mockingbird Theatre’s most ambitious production to date….Written by Doug Wright, the play sits somewhere between witty, unsettling, grotesque, political and shameful. Its success lies in the suggestion that the Marquis’ censors are the real criminals: far more insane and twisted than the Marquis himself….Adrian Carr proves he has a handle on the complex and multifaceted character of the Marquis, and delivers some chilling moments indeed….As usual, the quality Mockingbird stamp can be seen overall in Quills.” - Theatrepress
“…Chris Baldock’s direction in naturalistic acting and the skills of this group of talented actors are both outstanding….Carr’s performance is gutsy and skilled….Adam Ward as the manipulative, pompous Dr Royer-Collard, is also strong….Dylan Watson as the Abbe de Coulmier is outstanding, assigned the difficult task of portraying the gradual transition from humanitarian to monster….Andrea McCannon as de Sade’s wife is assured and comical….Overall this production of Quills is ambitious and certainly suggests that the Mockingbird Theatre has a wealth of talent within its ranks.” - Artshub
"Adam Ward represents something of a gold standard in this regard, bringing such an authority and precision to his role that he threatens to overturn the dynamics of the play. This would have been fatal had the role of the Marquis been handled less assuredly, but thankfully Adrian Carr is dazzling in the part, his delivery paradoxically clipped and rounded simultaneously....The production itself is a lesson to others on what can be achieved on a small budget....the lighting [Jason Bovaird and Ben Howlett] and costumes [Kellie Bray] are superb, in perfect step with the needs of the space....Quills is an interesting play given a dynamic production here." - Time Out
"Mockingbird Theatre’s founder Chris Baldock, challenges traditional performance boundaries, treating audiences to innovative theatre experiences....Adrian Carr is sensational as the Marquis de Sade, switching from flamboyant theatricality of the Grand Guignol to his character’s powerful challenges to authority, and vulnerability. Adam Ward commands the stage as Dr Royer-Collard, and Dylan Watson beautifully captures Abbe de Coulmier’s gentle humanity and the transition as his mind becomes corrupted.... Quills is not for the faint-hearted, but take courage and go see this theatre experience with a difference." - Melbourne Observer
"*Quills review - "In conditions of adversity, the artist thrives." - Marquis de Sade. Sex, pornography, censorship, religion, insanity. Quills explores all this and more in the setting of a mental asylum where the star 'patient' is Marquis de Sade. If you like feel-good theatre, light entertainment that doesn't challenge you, then give this one a miss. To start with the full frontal nudity will probaby make you so uncomfortable you won't be able to concentrate on the combination of brilliant script, perfect setting and well cast actors. Mockingbird Theatre delivered theatrical magic that touched my mind and soul. 24 hours later I'm still thinking about what was stirred within, and it will be food for thought for a long time to come. With such stellar casting, its hard to pinpoint standouts, they were all brilliant. Right down to the un-named lunatics who helped create such an eerie evocative atmosphere. But Adrian Carr as Marquis de Sade was superb. From the smallest facial expression to the largest bodily gesture, he exuded authenticity in the role. Andrea McCannon shone as Renee Pelagie and Dylan Watson nailed the journey of a priest crossing over to the dark side as Abbe de Coulmier. Quills slices through social artifice to expose the truth - the shadow side exists in us all. And that is what makes us human. If you want a gutsy, thought provoking theatrical experience go book your tickets now." ~ review by Kel
"Congrats on yet another great show! With this and the previous two having been so good, would Mockingbird consider ever introducing subscriptions or season passes? I know a few people who wold be interested, myself included."
"Great setting in old meat market helped capture the mood. Superb ensemble work. Strong performances by all. Excellent direction."
"I have been a fan of Mockingbird since the day dot ... And always enjoy what they do. Quills is an important play that needed to be staged in Melbourne and Mockingbird did a great job with it. I really enjoyed the night & might even want to go back again for seconds. I loved it."
"The show was intriguing. I applaud the lead for such a wonderful performance considering he was naked for most of it and it was a freezing night!!"
"Interesting vision of the Marquis's last days. Well directed and good performances. Overall a very good play, every mother should recommend her young daughter to see"
"Unashamed fan of Chris Baldock and Mockingbird Theatre and they did not disappoint. The cavernous surrounds of the old Meat Market was the perfect setting adding to the atmosphere and tone of the story."
"In a word, ambitious. A strong cast meets high production values."
"Absolutely amazing! The acting was brilliant, the setting was perfectly eerie, and I was enthralled the whole time! I can’t recommend this enough!"
"Great venue. Performances were well performed. Entertaining night out."
"Thoroughly engaging and original production. The lunatics really set the scene as did the staging in the round, the lighting design and sound design. Highly recommended! "
"Great acting, a really interesting interpretation of the play and a nice venue! I'll recommend the play to all my friends!"
"Fantastic! Really great cast, atmospheric venue. Tremendous effort by all involved & really great night out."
"Brilliant performances by all. Bravo"
"Really interesting play. Great venue. Very fitting"