Review: House at the Heath Ledger Theatre (Perth Festival)

Review By Tatum Stafford


Thursday night’s mid-season performance of ‘House’ felt like a warm hug – comforting, nostalgic, and overflowing with love.


Opening with a bang as we’re introduced to the lovable but loud Cathelijn, the show follows this lonely girl as she is abandoned by her family, but ‘chosen’ by a Rescue House that takes her up into the sky and makes her feel safe, loved and validated.


Chanella Macri is an absolute star as the protagonist Cathelijn. Her commanding stage presence and infectious laughter is a joy to watch, and helped to ground the piece that is quite absurdist in nature.


The lovable Piotr (Isaac Diamond) and quirky Elka (Nicola Bartlett) steal the show with their undeniable chemistry, playful banter and hilarious non-sequiturs as they attempt to describe the House to lost Cathelijn. As each of their characters’ backstories are revealed, they provide some incredibly touching and emotional moments, and are a brilliant juxtaposition to Macri’s effervescent Cathelijn.


One of the most remarkable characters in the piece, however, is the House itself. Crafted by set & costume designer Charlotte Lane, the House moves, reacts and emits sound as if it’s the fourth character in the show; there to help situate and justify each of the characters’ wants and needs. It is filled with nooks and crannies that pop up (or out) throughout the show, with a highlight being its picture frames that can disappear to make way for re-enactments behind them, or transform into moving pictures that helped visualise the traumatic backgrounds that these lonely characters came from.


The beloved Barking Gecko Theatre Company is a staple at the Perth Festival each year. Their brilliantly produced pieces are always a hit with audiences of all ages, and are infused with wit, joy and beautiful moral through-lines that resonate with people once the lights come up and they leave the theatre.


This beautiful piece is no exception. A repeated phrase was ‘When you lose something, you gain something else’, which is so poignant in a time where lockdowns are occasionally prevalent, and the world isn’t as accessible as it used to be. Perhaps if we all had our own Rescue House we’d feel a little less alone during this global pandemic.

Image Supplied