Review: Ticker at Underbelly

Punching a one-eyed unicorn in a hospital grieving room is better than therapy. This is what is declared by writer and performer Tom Machell, in Fight In The Dog’s Ticker. Machell plays Spencer, a man grieving over the sudden loss of the person who means the most to him. This show explores masculinity, aggression and grieving as Spencer navigates a world without Gabs, his girlfriend.

The clever set design and innovative use of different coloured lights to indicate a change of location are some of the best parts of this show. Props appear from nowhere, Machell switches between characters deftly and in perfect sync with the set. Derek Anderson, the set and costume designer, should be commended for how stylish the set is, and how sleek it moves, flows and changes. Director Derek Anderson makes sure that Machell uses the space – there is movement and thankfully little stasis. The direction, set and the engaging performance of Machell make this show extremely interesting.

Ticker holds great potential, however, the emotional reaction expected was not there. The sadness and rage of Machell’s character was palpable, however, it did not translate to the audience, and was un-affecting. Moreover the script itself, whilst being snappy, contained jokes and elements that confused the plot and fell a little flat. The exploration of toxic masculinity and male aggression is, for the most part, successful. However, it borders on self-indulgent at times and would benefit from making it more clear that the protagonist is not a ‘nice guy’.

Primarily Ticker is a witty and charismatic piece. This is a show to recommend, not just due to its more inventive and contemporary staging, but its important message about cardiac risk in the young.

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