A Quarreling Pair: A Triptych of Small Puppet Plays

Aphids' A Quarreling Pair (thumbnail), photo Yatzek


A Quarreling Pair

by Jane Bowles
New York 1945 or 1946
(copyright © 1966 by Jane Bowles, with permission The Wylie Agency)

Mr Peterson’s Milk

by Lally Katz
Melbourne 2003

And When They Were Good

by Cynthia Troup
Melbourne 2003

Jane Bowles’ play scrutinises the way that spaces, bodies and emotional bonds can harden around habit, becoming subject to harsh fears, and pressured by ineffable impulses towards freedom—especially towards some kind of emotional independence. Mr Peterson’s Milk by Lally Katz and Cynthia Troup’s And When They Were Good were composed as elaborations on the richly ambivalent imagery of A Quarreling Pair. Each was written for two sister characters, perhaps the same ‘quarreling pair’, transposed into different situations that highlight the strange rigidity of the ‘two rooms’ which form the setting for Bowles’ work.

Creative Team

  • Director Margaret Cameron
  • Performers Caroline Lee, Sarah Kriegler
  • Sound Design Jethro Woodward
  • Lighting Design Richard Vabre
  • Puppetry Design Sarah Kriegler
  • Puppets Trina Gaskell, Sarah Kriegler
  • Set Design Margaret Cameron with the company
  • Touring Set Jacob Williams
  • Original Set Daniele Poidomani
  • Songs by Paul Bowles:
    • ‘Secret Words’, 1943
    • ‘My Sister’s Hand in Mine’, words by Jane Bowles, 1945 or 1946
    • ‘Farther from the Heart’, words by Jane Bowles, 1942
  • Piano Dean Sky-Lucas
  • Concept & Research Cynthia Troup
  • Producer David Young, an Aphids production

Premiere season: Melbourne, La Mama Theatre, part of the 2004 Melbourne International Arts Festival, presented by Aphids and Melbourne International Arts Festival in association with La Mama.

Scripts published by Aphids, 2004.

Aphids' A Quarreling Pair, photo Yatzek
Aphids' A Quarreling Pair, photo Yatzek

Press & Reviews

… The tiny, intimate A Quarreling Pair by Aphids was a quiet revelation with its shifting weave of human and puppet, voice and soundscore.
The expression ‘pursed lips’ will never be the same again!
Herald Sun
Beautifully written, masterfully performed, and skillfully staged, Australia’s Aphids production A Quarreling Pair was a most welcome addition to La MaMa’s Fall season.
New York Theatre Wire
… I had forgotten how irreverent and ingenious Australian theatre could be. The production is quixotic, but just when you get too charmed, it delivers a sharp slap across the face.

Performance History

6–9 July: Melbourne, La Mama Theatre, part of the Melbourne Festival of Puppetry, and dedicated to the memory of Margaret Cameron (1955–2014)
15–19 June: Rome, Teatro Patologico, part of the Festival dei Mondi (Rassenga Internazionale di Teatro)
21 May: Melbourne, private house, salon performance
29 October–8 November: New York City, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, part of the La MaMa ETC Puppet Series 3
3 October: Melbourne, private house, salon performance
7–8 April: Castlemaine VIC, Phee Broadway Theatre, part of the Castlemaine State Festival
27 September–8 October: Melbourne, Malthouse Theatre, part of The Age Melbourne Fringe Festival
21 & 23 January: Blackheath, Blue Mountains NSW, Catholic Hall & Main Hall, part of the One Van International Puppet Festival
14–21 October: Melbourne, La Mama Theatre, part of the 2004 Melbourne International Arts Festival
21–23 November: Melbourne, La Mama Theatre, part of La Mama’s annual Explorations series of new work in progress

Further Reading

A Quarreling Pair: Triptych of Small Puppet Plays program, Malthouse Theatre (2006); read here

Boyd, Chris, ‘A Quarreling Pair’ [review], Herald Sun, 15 October 2004

Caporaso, Diana, ‘Not Your Average Punch and Judy’, interview with Cynthia Troup, New York Theatre Wire, 25 October 2009; read here

Cohen, Billie, ‘A Quarreling Pair. A 1940s Flop Inspires Surrealism and New Plays of Sibling Rivalry’, interview with David Young, Time Out New York, 11 October 2009

Collier, Alexandra, ‘Sisterly Love: A Quarreling Pair Produced by Aphids’, Antipodes, vol. 24, no. 1 (2010), pp. 119–120

Gallasch, Keith, ‘Melbourne Festival: Gustpeak, Wordsong’, RealTime, no. 64 (2004) p. 38; read here

Hinojosa, Richard, ‘A Quarreling Pair’ [review], nytheatre.com, 5 November 2009; read here

Hubbard, Gabriella, ‘“Una coppia litigiosa” a Roma’, interview with Caroline Lee, Il Globo, 20 May 2011

Troup, Cynthia, ‘A Riddle and A Dare: Translating Aphids’ Triptych of Small Puppet Plays into Italian’, Quarterly Newsletter, PEN International Melbourne Centre, new series no. 3 (2011), pp. 28–34

_____‘Ready, Fire, Aim’, interview with Margaret Cameron and David Young, Meanjin (special issue, Portraits of the Artist), vol. 64, no. 1/2 (2005), pp. 302–310

Wehle, Phillipa, ‘A Quarreling Pair Presented by Aphids from Melbourne, Australia’, New York Theatre Wire, 6 November 2009; read here

And When They Were Good, part of Aphids' A Quarreling Pair, photo David Young
Caroline Lee, Sarah Kriegler: Aphids' A Quarreling Pair (photo David Young)