Prickly Love Review

ATYP’s reviewing program was created to give young people a platform to voice their opinions and experiences while developing skills in critical reflection. The views expressed are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of ATYP or its staff.

Prickly Love, 2024. Photo by Dom Young & Tianna Blaiklock.


New South Wales University Theatre Society’s (NUTS) production of Gita Bezard’s play Prickly Love explores the feeling in its many different forms. From its meta opening, where the characters talk about setting the scene, to its delightfully joyous (and melancholic) characters, even to its tasteful depiction of a sensitive subject matter – this show is student theatre at its best.

The ten actors serenade the audience as they shuffle in, chatting amongst themselves as they sit down. As the show begins, they move around the space, accompanied by Charlie Campbell’s vibrant lighting and Sophia Tudman’s energetic sound design, until they end up in a staggered line facing the audience. This directorial choice by Emma Johns shows up throughout the play in moments where words aren’t enough for the characters to express their emotions to one another so they must manoeuvre around each other and deliver their thoughts to the audience. 

We then meet April (Ines Sicard) and Sam (Zoe Berg) as they break up leading to a tense exchange at the office between the two in front of Mads (Katherine Vu), April’s secret admirer, and Sylvia (Olivia Castree-Croad), April’s best friend. This heated exchange occurs right across from the budding romance between Aidan Hale’s Danny and Angus Crampton’s Harry whose storyline covers the excitement and nervousness of when a relationship enters the workplace. 

The final piece of the plot between Sam’s lesbian flatmates Gabbie (Isabella Mitchell) and Lila (Charlie Thomson) gets some of the biggest laughs in the play regarding a certain plant that brings out the most ridiculous aspects of both of them. Throughout the play, Jasmine Jenkins’ Jaxon and Isla Hook’s Molly play supporting characters as part of the ensemble, but both get their moment to shine.

The modern chic costumes and mundane office set by Corah Fortune complement each other well, with April’s ‘Safety Pin Suit’ being the standout statement piece. Emma Johns’ direction brilliantly balances the ridiculous with the sincere. She achieves her goal of reminding the audience of people that we have, do and could love. We view the play through her eyes and see that happiness doesn’t have to appear in huge and expansive ways, because it can seep in and quietly illuminate you. 

This idea could not be more apparent than in the character of Holly who holds a lamp and speaks directly to the audience. Her three extended monologues (which are really two characters talking to one another) are all masterfully portrayed by Isla Hook. Working with only herself, her slight body movements and voice intonations make her two characters distinct when they talk to one another, allowing Gita Bezard’s words to work their magic on the audience. Hook’s heartfelt delivery, pacing, and voice work made each of her monologues heartwarming and even managed to steal a tear from my eye. The other standout performance has to go to Katherine Vu as Mads. Despite barely speaking in the play, as the ensemble says her internal monologue, her emotive eyes speak volumes without her saying a word.


Prickly Love played at Studio One Esme Timbery Creative Practice Lab from the 9th to the 28th of April.

— Benjamin, 20, he/him