Tully Hansen sits down with Christina Smith, designer of Porn.Cake and gets the lowdown on those little cake creations

Photos: Jeff Busby

You've turned the Malthouse's Beckett Theatre into something of a dessert museum - all gateaux and glass cabinets. Can you describe a little more of the set and the thinking behind the design?
I wanted the cakes to appear like luscious little jewels in the space - something bright and colourful and completely tantalising to the audience. To then place these little gems within a completely cold and clinical environment I think heightens their sensual appeal...there is a juxtaposition between the delicious and the antiseptic!

Are the cakes all the real, edible deal or are they part of the magic of theatre?
Not sure I should be revealing the magic secrets but there is a combination of absolutely real edible cakes, inedible cakes dressed and decorated with real ingredients and complete fakes. The fun is working out which is which.

At what point in the rehearsal process does a design start to come together? Do you work largely independently, or in close collaboration with the rest of the cast and crew?
The design process starts months before the actual rehearsals begin, there really is so much planning involved to achieve something that often looks so simple to the audience. Theatre is an incredibly collaborative artform, so right throughout the design process I am working hand in hand very closely with the director, the lighting designer and sometimes the sound designer. Then when rehearsals begin, we add the actors into the creative process so it can be a real give and take of ideas.

There's what looks to be a scale model of the set on the Malthouse Facebook page - is this your handiwork, something you usually do as part of your design? If so, how did you make the tiny cakes?
With great time consuming difficulty! Most are made from Sculpey, a sculpting clay. They were shaped, baked and then coloured and glazed not unlike a normal cake, just on a very, very small scale (they are around 1cm in diametre) and in great quantities (there are 54).

You've worked extensively with companies around the country, but seem to have spent a lot of time in Melbourne. What's your pick of the local cake shops and cafés? (Or are you sick to death of sweet stuff at present?)
I usually get my cakes from Babka on Brunswick St - their Plum Cake is absolutely divine - but I'm struggling to even look at sweets at the moment! Easter was a bit of a nightmare in that regard....

Porn.Cake review

First published on . Updated on .

By Tully Hansen   |  

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