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The Eisteddfod - Old Fitz Theatre (NSW)

Written by Lally Katz. Directed by Miranda Middleton and Jessica Bell.

An often challenging piece of theatre with raw performances that explores the complexity of familial ties through frequent frenetic energy


Reviewed by Juliana Payne

Old Fitz Theatre, Woolloomooloo

Until 31st May


Lally Katz's The Eisteddfod is a strong and often disturbing play that draws the audience into the vacuum-sealed world of two orphaned siblings, Abalone (Ziggy Resnick) and Gerture (Fraser Crane). Within the confines of their shared room, they grapple with grief, anxiety, and a dysfunctional past through a blend of dark humour, fantasy, and sometimes an unsettling realism.


Miranda Middleton and Jess Bell’s production (co-directed) thrives on the strength of its two performers. Resnick’s all-in physicality is balanced by Crane’s more withheld frenetic presence. As Abalone, and other brash characters from time to time, Resnick uses their body to convey emotions and reactions, and it’s admirable that she can still project and enunciate lines so well while flinging themself around the set.  Crane depicts characters somewhat quieter but with more intensity. Crane and Resnick’s performances could do with a bit more light and shade, as they are consistently switched on for the length of the performance, but they have natural talent and their acting skills show ability for maturity in a theatrical career.  Their portrayal of the siblings' relationship via role-playing other personas captures the complexity of familial ties and its love-hate elements. Both Crane and Resnick’s performances are raw, which suits Katz’s script whilst also very much in the Old Fitz mode.

The Eisteddfod, Old Fitz Theatre (2024). Images by Monique Placko


The precariously angled stage helps to set the tone that everything is just a bit off kilter for these people, and the directors use some clever staging to give the audience bird’s-eye or low angle views, again to keep us just that bit off balance. Lighting by Aron Murray and sound by Zac Saric effectively focus the audience’s attention where it should be, and costumes by Kate Beere give us the sense it’s all been pulled out of the dress-up box. The announcement of each scene change with misspelt words being projected upstage reminds us of the theatricality of life, that ‘all the world’s a stage’ and we’re all merely playing a part.

...a challenging piece of theatre that explores how we survive and make sense of our world through the stories we tell ourselves and others


Katz’s script walks the tightrope between humour and horror, and there are moments of genuine laughter as the siblings play their absurd games. These lighter moments are interrupted by the darker memories that inevitably intrude from beneath the surface. 


The Eisteddfod is not for those who are also afraid of facing reality and fits well with the ‘late night’ concept. It's a challenging piece of theatre that explores how we survive and make sense of our world through the stories we tell ourselves and others, and how we store up and treasure the memories that make us what we are. The play throws out many questions without offering too many cut and dried answers, but then that’s often what we want from a thought-provoking theatrical experience.


Cast and Creative Team

Playwright: Lally Katz

Co-Directors: Miranda Middleton and Jess Bell

Producers: Monique Placko and Ziggy Resnick 

Stage Manager: Abby Dinger 

Sound Designer: Zac Saric 

Lighting Designer: Aron Murray

Set & Costume Designer: Kate Beere 

Cast (of 2): Ziggy Resnick, Fraser Crane


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