Murder | Erth

Visual theatre magicians Erth take puppetry into unsettling territory, inspired by the music of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.


Murder blurs reality and fantasy in an acid trip-dreamscape that delves deep into our collective psyche.

About Murder

Murder is the ultimate taboo – yet it’s slashed and splashed across every surface of our culture.  How will I kill thee? Let me count the ways.

Created by visual theatre magicians Erth and inspired by the ballads of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Murder is a visceral and intimate performance work that explores our voyeuristic fascination with murder and violence.

Welcome to the world of a central, lone character, where reality and fantasy are blurred and the past and the virtual are present and real. Haunted by his past and tormented by his own murderous obsessions, he opens for us a portal to an underworld – and the darker corners of our minds.

Murder’s sophisticated use of puppetry takes us to a place that we fear to tread. From the highly stylized caricatures of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Stagger Lee, Billy Dilly and Nellie Brown, to our protagonist’s life-sized, fantasy partner in crime and the faceless ghosts of his childhood, these nuanced and uncanny incarnations demonstrate the powerful subversiveness of puppetry in servitude to adult art.

Murder presents us with violence at close range, powerfully raw and direct. Wickedly clever and disturbingly compelling, it offers a potent meditation on our violence-obsessed world.


“Scott Wright’s show is by turns shocking, sordid and banal. Here the supposed cuteness of puppets travels down into the uncanny valley, in which replicas and representations of people are so almost-but-not-quite human that the effect is disturbing. The puppetry, under the direction of Rod Primrose, with a design by Steve Howarth and the Erth Studio Team, is masterful, and, given the provocative content of this show, I mean that in a nice way.”
– John McCallum, The Australian

“From killer puppets to a giant yellow duck, The Daily Telegraph’s arts team relives its top Sydney Festival moments… Erth: This show’s disquieting meditation on the many and varied inclinations to extreme violence, while flawed, was so utterly mesmerising it mattered little. For its ambition and vision alone this was a festival highlight.”
– Daily Telegraph

“Boldly going into territory few theatre companies would dare venture near, Erth plunge to the dark side and explore both the awful stories of violent death and our collective obsession with them. Thoughtful, compelling, entertaining and nasty in just about equal measures.”
– David Sefton, Adelaide Festival Director

Production Notes

Duration 65 minutes

Venue up to 250 seats, must have intimate feel due to content and size of puppets. The stage design is suited to end-on black box, proscenium arch and non-traditional spaces. In the round or thrust configurations are unlikely to be suitable.

Stage: Minimum performing area 8m W x 6m D plus backstage/wings = 10m W x 8m D minimum stage. Minimum height 5m.

Touring Company 8  (5 performers, AV/SX/LX operator, PM/SM, Director)

Production History

Premiered at Sydney Festival, 5 – 19 January 2013.
Adelaide Festival, 6 – 10 March 2013.
Ten Days on the Island, 14 – 18 March 2013.