‘Unrule’ is an amazing and daring new play by the multi-talented creator Michelle Aitken, in with collaboration with her lateral thinking ensemble of Rhiannon Petersen, Alicia Osyka, Chelsea Gibson and Mani Mae Gomes.
Finding a producer for such shows can be difficult, thankfully however, Noemie Huttner-Koros has come to the rescue.
This energy packed 75-minute show is presented at 7.00 each evening in The Blue Room Studio in James Street (opposite the Central Library in Northbridge) until Saturday 15th June.
The set: which was designed by Olivia Tartaglia must be one of the best in the past decade. Other than last year’s Night Club I can think of no other that comes anywhere near this design and construction.
The seating is cabaret style – with nibbles at the end of the show. On entering the theatre, everyone was stunned at the quality and complexity of the set. Centre stage was a cast iron bath and the theatre walls were tiled with black and patterned white tiles. In the corner was a two-metre shower curtain. There were stools with orange locks of hair hanging from the seat. Dozens of sanitary towels and tampons were an integral part of the décor. A candelabra hung from the ceiling. Sounds a weird mix, but this is a bizarre show.
The complex lighting, music and sound were designed by Joe Lui and operated faultlessly by Sally Davies.
The music and sound effects were some of the best that I seen in any provincial theatre. The ingenious A/V provided effects such as the shower water, birds, subtitles for songs and dialogue. The sound effects at times were loud, threatening and scary, then rapidly followed by light-hearted fun music.
A middle-aged woman (Alicia Osyka) sits and explains her monthly discomfort. She receives ‘understanding’ advice from a well-meaning friend (Rhiannon Petersen). It becomes obvious that these are no simple aches but are dysmenorrhea at its worst and yet, even from professionals, she gets the same ‘get over it’ advice. In the background, using wine glasses, methods of relief are suggested.
Then there are the other hormone-controlled complications. One poor thirteen-year-old girl (Chelsea Gibson) in ‘Carrie’ style encounters her first period. All the suggestions and explanations from her mother are irrelevant where the pain is concerned. The young girl’s final scene that showed her unusual winged friends leaving was reminiscent of Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’.
Another girl (Mani Mae Gomes) has leaking boobs – but she is not pregnant – sounds simple to fix, but like the dozen other complaints there is little interest from doctors or specialists, leaving the patient with deep seated anxieties.
Although Director Michelle Aitken graduated from WAAPA with a Dance degree, over the years she has proved to be an all-round, adventurous participant in theatre. With such a stunning result as a first-time director, one can only wonder what magic the future will hold. Michelle was helped and advised by Blue Room veteran, Dramaturg Alexa Taylor.
The exceptional cast were on stage for 75 minutes non-stop in this frantic fast-paced show. There was lively choreography combined with times of deep depression, and yet the cast flowed flawlessly from one mood to another.
Recently Rhiannon has specialised as a lighting designer, but here she reminded us of her wonderful acting ability. The ladies in the audience will see the show as a presentation of many of their very private personal experiences and sufferings. Perhaps a little too near to home for some to really enjoy? Many men may recall the times they have said to partners, ‘toughen up’, but are now highly embarrassed at their total lack of care or understanding.
The show did not pull punches whilst driving the message home and yet it was still hilarious. I admit at times I had a conscience at laughing.
Every good show should end with a rousing finish and this highly talented cast gave us a delightful song and dance.
One of the year’s top shows for sure. HIGHLY recommended.