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kill the messenger @ belvoir

Inset- Director Anthea Williams. Featured- Playwright and lead performer Nakkiah Lui
Inset- Director Anthea Williams. Featured- Playwright and lead performer Nakkiah Lui

KILL THE MESSENGER is a very raw, emotional look at dealing with loss, racism and how people can’t escape their history. Written by Nakkiah Lui, the play evolved over time: while writing the story of Paul, a young man who struggles with addiction, Lui’s grandmother died. Lui tells these stories as well as her own, and the three have the common denominator of racial oppression and stereotyping as the main theme.

Lui finds that grief is not simple, and the process of overcoming grief is long and difficult. It can feel like an avalanche of rocks that you have to pick your way out from under, while others wait for you to heal. Lui originally began writing this story only about Paul, a young man that she heard of through her mother, but when her grandmother died the play took on a new shape. Lui’s grandmother fell through a termite infested floor in her home, an accident that could have been avoided if the department of housing deemed Aboriginal housing worthy of maintenance.

Nakkiah Lui admits that the three stories that make up Kill the Messenger are unfinished. The play did have an unpolished feel to it, but that was a large part of its appeal. In spite of her (self-confessed) anger, Lui is irresistible. Though she is described by her sometime boyfriend Peter as the ‘Adolf Eichmann of Feminazis’- a term she objects to – her humourous approach to the material and strong performances allround makes this play immensely watchable.

Another issue that Lui touches on is how and why we ascribe meaning to events and objects in our lives. Can we invest meaning in something just by saying that it should have meaning? Or is she giving us false hope with the story of the ring? The story of her grandmother’s ring is a fiction but Peter tells her that if she cared enough to make up the story, it does mean something.

Ultimately Nakkiah Lui wrote Kill the Messenger to try to bring her Nana back to life. In doing so she has proved that she is not a militant necessarily a Feminazi, but she is many other things: a writer, feminist, reality television junkie who is intelligent, strong and most importantly, very brave. Now it is up to audiences to rise to her challenge of asking ourselves why we are there to see her play, after all, isn’t there more we can do to help change the stories of Aboriginal suffering?

Featuring: Matthew Backer, Katie Beckett, Nakkiah Lui, Sam O’Sullivan and Lasarus Ratuere.

Creative Team: Anthea Williams (director), Nakkiah Lui, Ralph Myers, Mel Page, Katie Sfetkidis, Kelly Ryall, Jada Alberts, Amanda James, Alistair Toogood, Isabella Kerdijk, and Kirsty Walker.

KILL THE MESSENGER is playing upstairs at Belvoir Street until the 8th March.

Joy Minter’s review was first published on her website-


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