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The Gargoyle - Melbourne Fringe Review

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by Aridhi Anderson (subscribe)
Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at
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The tale of a Gargoyle brought to life by a lightning strike
How do you come to terms with the realisation that you're... hideous?

The Gargoyle by Jake Matricardi is a gothic fairy tale about being different and finding ways to cope with it. It is running at The Butterfly Club from 17-23 September as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2018.

Jake Matricardi as The Gargoyle. Photo credit: Sarah Clarke.
Jake Matricardi as The Gargoyle. Photo credit: Sarah Clarke.

A stone gargoyle has been struck by lightning, knocked off the roof of a church, and miraculously granted life on the ground below. This one-man play is his story: the story of experiencing what it feels like to be alive. It is the story of his reflections on his purpose, both in terms of original design, and in terms of his present, unexpected context. It is also the story of the gaps in his life and in his world, which he fills with various stories and rationalisations and hopes, as he develops the coping mechanisms he needs to deal with the challenges of this new life.

The show begins with the already-alive gargoyle sleeping in the safety of his shelter. When he wakes up and finds the audience in his space, he is shocked and frightened at first, but then he realizes that he's not getting a hostile vibe from them - they're not there to hurt him. He begins to warm up to them and starts to tell them his stories. Stories of his origins - his grandparents, his parents, his people. The stories are dramatic, and are narrated with compelling physicality to go with the words. But they don't quite add up. Something's out of alignment. You begin to suspect that he's making up these stories based on existing myths from other cultures. But he keeps telling you, and you keep listening. These stories seem to be one of several ways in which he copes with being who he is. He presumably feels better about his present weakness by "remembering" a glorious past.

Jake Matricardi as The Gargoyle. Photo credit: Sarah Clarke.
Jake Matricardi as The Gargoyle. Photo credit: Sarah Clarke.

In the midst of these stories about the pride of his ancestors, he suddenly begins to tell a story that rings true. This is the story of his personal past, of being a stone gargoyle unable to move, positioned atop a church facing away from what was holy within, so that he could keep Satan and his demons away. The gargoyle was the protector of something he had never seen. Something he was never meant to see because it was holy, and he was not. This story unfolds further when, having come alive, he meets a young child who represents hope, who leads him into the church that he was never meant to set foot in... with disastrous consequences.

Jake Matricardi delivers a skillful physical performance as the gargoyle, equally skillful in switching to the other characters in his stories when he needs to do so. He has remarkable control over his body and convincingly portrays the hideous, conflicted, nervous monster that just wants to hope, like anyone else. Although he is somewhat frightening at first, and certainly markedly "different" in many ways, you soon realize that being different does not make him unlovable. And there's a deep message in that.

Jake Matricardi as The Gargoyle. Photo credit: Sarah Clarke.
Jake Matricardi as The Gargoyle. Photo credit: Sarah Clarke.

This show is best enjoyed from the front row, mainly because of the seating arrangement at the venue and the many scenes where Matricardi lays low on the stage. However, the first row also enjoys the privilege of occasionally being splashed with blood (fake, of course) so if you do sit in the front row, carry tissues and maybe don't wear white.
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*Aridhi Anderson was invited as a guest
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Why? Gothic fairy tale, strong physical performance
When: 17-23 September 2018
Phone: (03) 9660 9666
Where: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Pl, Melbourne
Cost: $27-$34
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