Contagion's Kiss

“What a fantastic performance. I’m just so proud to be Territorian and watch what happens in our art and performance scene up here”.
David Taylor
Knockabout Chef

 “I LOVED the play … beautiful, haunting, fabulous … well done to everyone concerned.”
Sally Mason
ABC 105.7

“Today no less than 3 separate people have raved to me about the new play at Brown’s Mart called Contagion’s Kiss. Last night was the preview and the show runs to the 16th of June so I thought now could be a good time to post on this blog a chat with co-creator of the production Nicky Fearn, from Business Unusual.  It’s a fascinating idea: capturing something of the time when leprosy was common in the Top End. The team behind the production did loads of research and based their work on real people and stories. When it comes to the performance, instead of taking a strictly realistic approach they decided to use masks instead of words to tell the story. A colleague who also went to the preview told me she was moved to tears by the performance.

When I went to visit it rehearsals were in full swing in the rehearsal room upstairs in Brown’s Mart. If you’ve seen the show, what did you think?”
Kate O’Toole
ABC Mornings

“Contagion’s Kiss was enchanting, haunting and thought provoking. It is filled with allegory – rich with layers of meaning: the hand and human puppets – all controlled by forces beyond themselves. The setting of strings weighed down with rocks – not only providing the basis for space and visual effects but the concept of being weighed down by a reality over which the characters have no control. The music was an integral part of the theme- the saw was extraordinary – bringing tension and pathos. I have told everyone I know to go and see it.”
Sue Bradley AM

“I really enjoyed the performance, it was a fantastic production and congratulations to everyone involved!”
Greg Docwra


“I have just come out of watching Business Unusual’s performance of Contagions kiss. I was very impressed with the astonishing array and layering of skill. The musical line was very supportive and yet although you could see her, she did not impose. The puppetry and the mask work allowed the telling of a story almost impossible to tell in any other way due to the sensitivity of the issues. For many local people the story of Chanel Island is a ‘sorry story’ and therefore using real people’s stories up front would have been insensitive. The design, the multimedia, and the direction all showed a great deal of care and decision making, creating a very clean and moving experience.

The most important thing that I love about this company is that they create amazingly visual work that although it may start from stories of Darwin and the region, they yet find a real universality to them.

The Northern Territory remains a frontier for the rest of Australia, constantly at the whim of a Federal Government that often sees us as an experiment. Business Unusual explores this experiment in great depth and sensitivity and deals with big Australian issues, such as: race, destruction, isolation, migration and multiculturalism and the inferred refugee issues.

 The Top End of Australia is often shrouded in mystery for the rest of Australia, and yet when we think of big Australian stories such as the Second World War and the bombing of Darwin, the migrant experience that brought us the pearlers and sponge divers that created industries such as the world renowned Paspaley Pearls, Cyclone Tracy (who does not remember that woman’s weekly cover?) and now we explore the idea that we actually had a leper colony in Australia.

I greatly value the cultural input that Business Unusual adds to the Australian picture.”
David McMicken
Co-Artistic Director
Tracks Dance Company

The Pearler

“Evocative and sensual…Trina Parker’s design is striking …Sarah Cathcart’s direction seamlessly harnessed all the elements of story, physical performance, design, music and montage to create a sophisticated production which adeptly revealed personal and social aspects of north Australia’s rich racial and labour history. Congratulations to Darwin’s independent production house Business Unusual Theatre for bringing this highly theatrical and socially relevant production to fruition”

Joanna Barrkman
Real Time Oct/Nov 2004

“Pearler a must-see…only a few words are needed to tell you how good it is. It is superb…I urge you to grab your other half and go see it…”


“…Tracy is a very refined piece of theatre. For each moment, there is the feeling that it has been carefully crafted. This is made most obvious in the very first fragments of the play where puppetry and maskwork alternate – both exquisitely precise; both filled with artistry…

…The show is accessible and humorous; it’s heartfelt but reinforced with the narrative strength of human experience. Cyclone Tracy has passed into the national psyche. This show, which tells the story behind the tragedy, will have resonances for Australians everywhere.”

Sandra Thibodeaux
Real Time Oct 2008

Full Review

Filling in Time delves into the history of the gaol by re-telling stories experienced by the inmates, as well as some of the folklore surrounding the gaol.

The directors have made a smart choice, staging the piece of physical theatre in the grounds. Tall light towers give off the eerie impression of guards watching over you, while the ghosts of days gone by hang in the air. The decision instantly has the effect of immersing the audience into the subject matter, making it easy to digest the story…. The local cast is strong and the brilliant music performed by Melbourne-based Michael Havir and Drum Drum’s Airi Ingram is a highlight. Treat yourself to something different”.

Suellen Hinde
NT News

Filling in Time

“Top End conditions have given the theatrical community the opportunity to raise the bar on outdoor performances. And the latest Business Unusual production –Filling in Time- is no exception. Artistic Directors Nicky Fearn and Tania Lieman take the production to the heart and soul of its subject matter by staging it on-site at Fannie Bay Gaol.


Crab Claw

“Delightful and riveting entertainment… (Crab Claw) is a surreal, magical tale about mystical beings that inhabit the Territory. From the beginning the audience was transfixed…with elaborate costumes, cleverly designed set and use of shadow imagery captivating all ages…The opening scene is stolen by Cal Williams soundtrack, as it eerily whispers Territory tales while the first shadow images slowly appear…The strength of the production lies in its original story by Therese Ritchie, cleverly adapted by Nicky Fearn and Tania Lieman”

Suellen Hinde
The NT News (2001)