The Temperamental Artist

– by Chantelle Pitt

A young man with dreams of becoming an artist is finally able to make those dreams a reality…but at cost. To what lengths would you go to gain the attention of the one you love? Would you go as far as murder?

Phoenix Theatre teams up with Dark Psychic Productions and the Autism Association of WA to bring us the black comedy The Temperamental Artist directed by Shaun Griffin. Walter (Zachary Inglis) works at a small cafe called The Yellow Door where he meets poets and artists of all sorts. He is a struggling sculptor who tries his hardest to win the love of co-worker Carla (Maree Andersen). Things take a sudden turn with the accidental killing of his landlady’s cat. Walter creates his first sculpture and is thrust into stardom.


Walter murders his victims then covers them in clay to create his magnificent ‘sculptures’ and presents them to his peers. This type of psychopathic nature is what frightens me in Inglis’ character as he is unpredictable and definitely not a guy to get mad. Inglis portrayed Walter well through physical movements.

I had high expectations for The Temperamental Artist but I felt like I was let down because quite a few things went wrong during the night. I don’t know whether it was technical issues or opening night nerves, but Artist’s performance didn’t flow cohesively as I expected it to. The show was riddled with long awkward pauses that made me think that something had gone wrong (like an actor forgetting their lines). I also took issue with the scene changes. I could always see actors moving on stage and crew was almost always visible from the sidelines. I was also continually distracted by the lack of adequate stage lighting provided by lighting designer Alex Coutts-Smith. I could barely see actors and their movements.

While the execution suffered, the storyline was a brilliant example of a ‘black comedy’. It made me laugh but at the same time made me uncomfortable and unnerved. Given the right directorial and technical changes, I believe that The Temperamental Artist has the ability to be truly amazing.


Warning: Not for patrons under 15 years. Contains adult themes and violence.

The Temperamental Artist plays until the 6th of June at Phoenix Theatre. You can find information about this production on their Facebook page.

Images courtesy of Sally Newman.

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