THE KILLDEER: A MUSICAL @ Old Customs House gets 7.5/10

The Killdeer: A Musical
@ Old Customs House
Friday, January 24, 2020


The Killdeer is an original Western Australian musical, with the script written by director Taylor Broadley and the songs written by Taylor Broadley, Lincoln Tapping, Liam Rock and Wei Chong. 

The story follows a 16 year old boy named Elliott who reappears in his home town after being missing for five years with a tale of escaping his captors. Elliott has to find a way to reintegrate into both his family and community after facing a substantially traumatic series of events. Eventually, an investigative reporter, Amy begins to pull at a thread of doubt which leads to the question – is Elliott really Elliott? 

The Old Customs House in Fremantle provided a unique and spacious setting for a large cast to perform comfortably. The audience chattered excitedly and waited with bated breath for the show to begin, with many stating how great it was to see a full-length original musical being presented at Fringe.    

Director Taylor Broadley opted for a minimal but effective set which consisted of bleachers and a well-lit phone box. The cast presented an array of impressive musical numbers and a mixture of both emotional and extremely witty dialogue.

Taylor Broadley, Lincoln Tapping, Liam Rock and Wei Chong have created a soundtrack that feels almost Kafka-esque in both its complexity and nuance and the cast delivered each song and scene with gusto. The ensemble was extremely strong, with many playing cameo roles that threatened to steal the show. 

Harley Dasey played the title role of Elliott with emotional depth and skill that far surpasses his years and proved himself to be a young musical theatre talent to watch. 

The relationship between Elliott and his sister River is a touching and at times tumultuous journey from the moment of their reunion and was a main focal point of the show. Tannah Pridmore played River with endearing vulnerability and powerhouse vocals. 

Cathy Woodhouse and Rigel Paciente delivered breathtakingly raw and emotional performances as Elliott and River’s parents, who have been estranged for a number of years. Their song O My Water was a crowd favourite. 

Tashlin Church who played investigative reporter Amy, and Jefferson Nguyen who played social worker Henry had a Mulder-and-Scully-type rapport, with outstanding vocal stamina and stage presence.

Other standout performances came from Lukas Perez, Hayden Mumby and Stephanie Beckham, who provided comic relief as River’s best friends, the chemistry between them evident in each scene.  

There were a few difficulties with sound, which is to be expected in the space – the high roof providing unavoidable reverb. The choreography by Emily Botje was sharp and impressive, with the only downside being that once or twice the idea of dancing felt out of place with the tone of the show. Taylor Broadley made brave and impactful choices in his direction, which paid off, and the band (Lincoln Tapping, Liam Rock, Wei Chong and Taylor Broadley) played almost faultlessly and were a highlight of the show. Musical director Tapping managed to ensure an entire cast was singing complex harmonies in perfect pitch and the vocals were phenomenal. 

The audience gave thunderous applause when the cast took their bows, and the energy in the room was magnetic. The Killdeer is an absolute must-see this Fringe season. If you have been contemplating getting out to see a show, make it this one.