'TUSK TUSK' / Patalog Theatre

'TUSK TUSK' / Patalog Theatre

Patalog Theatre presents their third production in TUSK TUSK, an awakening, frightening drama living between three siblings.

Markella Kavenagh and Ben Walter give strikingly vulnerable performances, as their characters live out a situation they are not mentally equipped to deal with. It is horrific, and hopeful.


Ben Walter, Artistic Director of Patalog Theatre and producer/actor in TUSK TUSK, speaks to Verve about putting together theatre that provokes young people.

Ben Walter:

TUSK TUSK is a play by Polly Stenham, written when she was just 19 years old, following the massive success of her first play, That Face. It’s a play about three children, siblings, who have just moved to London, and their mother has gone missing. It’s alluded to that their mother suffers mental illness. The first act follows the first 24 hours from her disappearance, and the second act takes place 8 days later.

Between the eldest brother, who’s 15 turning 16, the youngest sister who’s 14, and then their younger brother who’s 7, you have some really interesting stuff play out in regard to their parental roles.


Polly is pretty fearless when it comes to viewing comedy in the darkness of her story. And it’s all pretty truthful. So whilst it is dark, and it is that kind of piece – it doesn’t feel arduous like some dramas can, a constantly depressive piece. It’s not a happy story, but it’s certainly one full of hope.

[Patalog Theatre is] hoping to make stuff that’s in your face, perhaps scary, that pushes the boundaries of what people think you can do in theatre. It’s not for everyone, you know, we’re not trying to push that on people – but hopefully people can appreciate the dynamic of what happens when you sit in the dark with 60, 70 other strangers and watch this tale play out, and then you leave. It’s pretty special, and quite sacred.


“It has made people uncomfortable, but the fact that it’s truthful makes that okay.”


We’ve had really lovely responses from people who don’t always see this kind of thing. My dad’s a 53 year old, ex-aeronautical engineer, now a proposal writer for construction. Not by any stretch a theatre human! He came up to me after, you know, in tears, and he said “it’s very moving. You should be very proud.” Didn’t say much else, but that was like a big deal for us. A mark, I think, of truthful work.

Interview by Georgia Ketels.

TUSK TUSK plays at the Irene Mitchell Studio, St Martins Arts Centre 25th of June - 7th of July.


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