THE DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS

The Dark is one of the most beautiful meldings of person, object and image that I have ever seen.
— Angela Warren, Lowdown, June 2003
an intriguing, cleverly crafted work… bizarre and compelling.
— Jane Rankin Reid, the Australian, 10 Nov 2000
The beautiful and sometimes terrible grace of Terrapin’s puppets is awe-inspiring.
— Elizabeth Bailes, Mercury, April 11, 2003

PRODUCED BY TERRAPIN WITH ITS PREMIERE IN THE PEACOCK THEATRE (2000), A REDEVELOPED WORK IN THE TEN DAYS ON THE ISLAND FESTIVAL (2003)  AND A SHOWCASE IN THE APAM (2004)

  • CONCEPT:Jessica Wilson and Julia Christie from the story by Noelle Janachewska
  • DIRECTOR: Jessica Wilson
  • DESIGNER: Julia Christie
  • COMPOSER: Ben Sibson
  • PROJECTED IMAGE: Glen Dickson
  • LIGHTING DESIGN: Phil Lethlean

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is a rich journey into the wilderness of the imagination, seamlessly integrating puppetry with projected image, physical performance, original music and text. The work won the admiration of critics and audiences in its two seasons and at the Australian Performing Arts Market.  

The Dark began with an exploration of fear in Australian society.  From here, the artists became fascinated with a number of thematic threads; the fear of their own internal worlds; their vulnerability within a wild landscape; and the figure of the lost child that has haunted the Australian imagination since colonisations.  These explorations became the heart of the work.

The Dark takes us on a dense and filmic journey into one woman's inner world, and her struggle to make sense of often contradictory memories and thoughts. Carla breaks down on the side of a road surrounded by bushland.  As she makes her way through the scrub to her parents home, she is confronted by childhood memories.  She tries to fill gaps and create a narrative for the unexplained disappearance of her sister long ago. 

The Dark is full of strong visual memories realised with marionettes that are viewed through a scrim projection screen which frames the whole work; a confrontation around a china cabinet; a life size naked gypsy with no legs; a present that reveals a insect; drowning in water; a father that is often away taking photographs in the bush; and a mother that has frayed at the seams. We experience Carla's fragmented journey as she struggles with the human need to make sense of her inner life.  The Dark brings marionettes into contemporary theatre.