ACT News


The Last Time at Belconnen Arts Centre: Looking for love in Canberra

The Last Time. Book, music and lyrics by Lucy Matthews. Directed by Matthews. Acoustic Theatre. Belconnen Arts Centre. January 28-31. Tickets $25/$15. Bookings:

Lucy Matthews is nothing if not ambitious. Not only has the 23-year-old ANU arts student formed her own independent theatre company, Acoustic Theatre, but she's written the book, music and lyrics for its debut production as well as directing it.

Matthews says she formed the company last year to present high-quality musicals, plays and live performances with an emphasis on original and locally written works and local actors, writers, and musicians.

"I'm aiming to give opportunities to young and emerging talents and to emphasise work that is socially relevant – dealing with issues like human rights, youth issues, mental health and LGBTIQ isssues."

The Last Time: A Story of Love, Lust & Desperation tackles many of these ideas in a musical set in contemporary Canberra – a tale of one-night stands, romance and hangovers.

Caroline (played by Kat Bramston) is a young woman who can't seem to get her life together, spending her time partying and sleeping around.


"She wakes up hungover every weekend in a stranger's bed and says it's the last time," Matthews says.

But somehow it never is, although things might change when Christopher (Hayden Crosweller) decides he is determined to win her heart. But although he's charming, his reputation as a womaniser precedes him, which makes it hard for Caroline to trust him – and is he what she wants anyway?

Caroline's best friend is Ellie (Frances McNair) who is serious about finding love, but hasn't been having much luck in the relatively small lesbian dating pool of Canberra. Then she meets Valerie (Katherine Berry), a charismatic guitar player, who may be the one, but who holds a dark secret that may prove too much for the relationship to bear.

The story is narrated by a fifth character, the Music Man (Samuel Gordon Bruce), who also acts as bartender for the characters as their stories play out and they interact in ways that aren't always predictable.

"We're constantly changing – we can't resist the change," Matthews says.

"I wanted to explore the notion of sexuality, particularly female sexuality, and to challenge body policing and the judgment of sexually active women in society. I also wanted to incorporate LGBTI themes through the same-sex relationship between Ellie and Valerie. I hoped to demonstrate how the difficulties facing same-sex couples are strikingly similar to their heterosexual counterparts. While we all have a different story to tell, the notion of empathy, rather than difference, is important to the piece."

She says The Last Time is not autobiographical although she is put some of her own experiences and those of some of her friends in it.

"My partner read it and said, 'I can see a little bit of you in every character'.''

Matthews says the show's 13 songs range from rock to cabaret to club music in style and the music will be played by a live band. All profits from the show will be donated to ACT organisation YouthCare.

The Last Time isn't the first show she's created and Acoustic Theatre isn't her first company: at the age of 18 she co-founded a company with her friend Braiden Dunn and they wrote and presented What Are You? Since then, she's acted in several shows with Shadow House Pits, with which The Last Time is produced in association, and is finishing a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre Studies at the Australian National University. She's also working on a new show, a rock musical called Ophelia's Shadow approaching Hamlet from a different perspective.