Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Theatre: Is This Thing On? (★★★★)

By Zoe Coombs Marr
Directed by Zoe Pepper
Featuring Nicola Bartlett, Daisy Coyle, Andrea Gibbs, Samantha Maclean and Giulia Petrocchi
Blue Room Theatre
Until October 8

Andrea Gibbs (pic: Daniel James Grant)
Shakespeare famously identified seven ages of man in As You Like It, and the Sydney writer and comedian Zoe Coombs Marr has performed a similar dissection on the trajectory of the stand-up comic here.
The play’s mechanics are audacious, and skilfully managed by its director Zoe Pepper; five actors all play a comedian, Brianna (named, she claims, after the Fleetwood Mac song – it’s a running gag), from her first tentative stand at 16 (Daisy Coyle) to all-but-redundancy at 60 (Nicola Bartlett). Along the way we see her juggling bar work, uni studies and her fledgling act at 22 (Samantha Maclean), dealing with adult life at 27 (Giulia Petrocchi) and, fully fledged, struggling with it all at 35 (Andrea Gibbs).
Since her auspicious arrival as a dramatic actor in 2014, Gibbs has delivered an unbroken string of notable performances. None more so than this; her Brianna is genuinely horrible and achingly sympathetic. It’s a remarkable characterisation.
We may laugh with this person – Is This Thing On? has plenty of gags for that – but this unusual and effective play admonishes us not to laugh at her. 

Read the complete review in The West Australian

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