Poppy Seed Festival: ‘Blessed’

When hope is dashed against the rocks of reality, and clouds of pessimism obscure all dreams, what becomes of love?  This is one of the main questions put to us by ‘Blessed — though I might also be speaking of the recent American election. Let’s talk about the former.

A filthy bare mattress, dirty clothes strewn among bags of rubbish. A squalid hovel of a room. The set design of ‘Blessed’ is effective in setting the tone. It is not pretty, and neither has been the life of the two people who come to inhabit it, Maggie and Grey.



The first scene opens with a reunion and an attempt to rekindle a relationship that started 10 years ago, in their teens. Life has been hard for difficult: drugs, fractured families, abusive relationships, and other hardships that are only hinted at.  Flashing back to the past, we seem them as sixteen-year-olds. Love blossoms as a beacon of purity and hope in a backdrop of social misfortune. Both share the common struggle of the next generation of the dispossessed: low income, poor education and abuse.

‘Blessed’ is one of only four plays selected by a panel of industry professionals to showcase the Poppy Seed Festival, returning for its second year to Melbourne. There is no rigid criteria for submissions, but works are chosen for being both outstanding and viable. Fleur Kilpatrick, the playwright, aims high. She could have kept focus on filling out the relationship of the two characters.


Instead, Kilpatrick uses it as a backdrop to explore grander themes: helplessness, fear, attachment, religion, social criticism; with a touch of magical realism. This is what makes the play stand out. The intimate story of the young couple is enough for us to extrapolate and ponder on the human condition.

Our reflections are eased by expert performances from both actors, Olivia Monticciolo and Matt Hickey. They inhabit their characters effortlessly. The writing too stands out, striking a fine balance in being authentic, as heard by two uneducated youths who have had it rough, while being at once simple and poetic. Bravo.

– Christian
Christian G.  is an international man of mystery; lover of books, cats, and the performing arts; moonlighting as a finance professional by day.

The Poppy Seed Theatre Festival runs 8 November to 11 December 2016.

Blessed’ runs 8–20 November 2016, 8pm (60mins) at the Malthouse Theatre, Southbank. Buy tickets now.
The venue is accessible.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Starling Communications.
Image credit: Sarah Walker.