Theory of relativity
Ethan Taylor as Mike (left centre) and Matthew Yuen as Oliver (right centre) and the 2021 cast of The Theory of Relativity
Grace Chim as Catherine (centred) and the 2021 Cast of The Theory of Relativity
Who knew science and physics could not only be incorporated into a musical but also be fun!
Theory of Relativity by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill is a modern song cycle currently being performed at PACT Centre for Emerging Artists, Its directed by Michael Osborne and Helen Kim with musical direction by Gianna Cheung. The show centres around human connection, joy, heartbreak, intertwined lives and so much more. I was honestly blown away by this strong, diverse cast and production. The performers in this piece had such strong stage presence both as an ensemble whilst not delving too far away from their characters, I could not take my eyes from the stage.
The show is a beautiful meld of comedic circumstance and the gritty heartbreak of life. One of the first numbers “Allergic to Cats” performed by Jeremy Kindl as Paul was not only hilarious it gave us a view of how much we give up for love, even when it’s it’s as simple as giving up a life free of cat hair and allergy medication.
The show is built around life and our relativity to others and life. Showing that everyday is a miracle and so we should take advantage of that. It is a song cycle comprised of songs that seem separate to begin with but as the show goes on we begin to see how they all connect and their lives become intertwined even if they do not realise it.
The Song “Great Expectations” was extremely poingonet and relatable, speaking on how grateful we are for our families and all they do for us, but how their expectations can crush us and our dreams, making it feel wrong to pursue anything other than what they have laid out for you. It’s is an experience I am sure most have been through, but seeing it shared on stage gives a sense that you are not alone in that struggle.
This entire show was phenomenal, but there were two particularly memorable moments being “Ricky and Me” performed by Nicole De Villa in the role of Caroline and “Promise Me This” performed by Lisa-Marie Long in the role of Mira. The former sung of a romance so powerful she was completely swayed by her partner, to the point where she felt as though she couldn’t survive without him. It was so relevant and relatable to hear about such a manipulative, toxic relationship and Nicole performed with such bravado and such a big voice how could you not listen. You could feel the truth and hurt behind every word. Lisa-Marie Long’s performance of “Promise Me This” was absolutely breathtaking. Not only does Long have a very clean, crisp voice, it was filled with emotion and honest, the kind where you couldn’t help but think that she must have truly been experiencing what Mira felt.
The show really sits in the idea of relativity and how everyday we experience so many similar things to the people around us without even realising. Like falling in love with the barista at your favourite coffee shop, or fantasising about the person you locked eyes with as you were stopped at a red light. This idea of relativity really became clear with the final monologue performed by Claire Broderick as Amy. As she recounts the people she has seen and met throughout her life, linking all the characters we have encountered throughout the show, threading and string between every single one of these seemingly separated stories, linking them through a single encounter.
I won’t lie, I did not have much to fault with this production and I honestly loved every second, from the hilarious number about preferring oranges to apples, to the intertwining monologue about the cleanliness of hands. Overall this was a modern, relatable, hilarious and heartbreaking song cycle featuring a talented and beautifully diverse cast and creative team. This is the kind of theatre I hope to see more of in the future.
Congratulations to the cast and crew and chookas for the rest of the season!
Oliver Twist and Jennifer Jackson. Photo by Estelle Yoon.
Jali was an brilliant piece of storytelling and theatre and I found myself being carried along on the journey of Oliver's life, From the moment the lights went down and the sound of waves crashing began, I was completely enthralled in Oliver's words by his world and felt I was on the journey with him.
The way he described his memories and experiences was not only mesmerizing, but comedic, I felt as though I was standing there witnessing his memories as they unfolded out around him, from his parents meeting, how he came into the world and constant turmoil in his country. Every word he spoke left me feeling as though he was truly speaking with me directly, almost in a more intimate setting, I was completely connected with him in the story.
The story weaves back and forth between different points in time, but is done in such a way through music and lighting that you have no difficulty following along with the stories he tells. It tells the story of finding a better life, feeling as though you have no home and that even when you do find your home, life will not be perfect. It opened my eyes more to the life of a refugee and the trials people and families face when they are forced to flee their homes for safety. It was truly a wonderful mix of the honesty and gritty parts of life, mixed with the happiness and hilarity we are faced in modern society. Never at any point does it feel too heavy to handle, but it shows us the truth through the eyes of someone who has seen it, experienced life and loss, fear most of us will never know and the search for not only a physical home, but a home in your heart.
There is not sugar coating what Oliver has been through and experienced to get to where he is now, or that he is also so very aware of how life is not perfect, nor will it ever be, because “That’s how flimsy life is”. One of the things I found I couldn’t shake after leaving the theatre was the question Oliver posed of “If you could restart, would you do it differently?” and in my mind I went through a series of answers, because life can truly never be perfect, so if one thing was to change, how would it ripple across the things you consider perfect now? And what happens if you are forced to start over, how does that affect you and those around you.
The show poses many questions about sacrifices, family, belonging, rebirth and more. It was a beautiful intermingling of gritty truth and humour and left me feeling grateful for my home and family. I could not recommend Jali more, beautifully written and performed.
Stef Furnari, Ned Wu, Georgia Anderson, and Lisa Purmodh in Drummer Queens. Photo by David Hooley.
The cast of Drummer Queens. Photo by David Hooley.
From the opening to the closing number I was completely enthralled by how without any spoken words, the beating of the drums and exclamations from the cast told a story all on its own! Drummer Queens was a total journey, running through many different emotions and rhythms within the show which kept the audience on the edge of our seats all night. Every single one of those women on stage was insanely talented and lent their own personality to their characters and drum playing.
An absolute stand out had to be Georgia Anderson with her fun, charismatic and somewhat dorky character who went from pulling faces and making us laugh one moment to looking like she was leading an army into battle the next.
At the start, set design and costuming lent towards an almost post-apocalyptic world, where the way of communicating is through the beating of drums. The story travelled along with the music, taking many different forms and giving each performer the opportunity to give it their all on stage. At moments playful, mournful, joyful and at other times the drums sounded like the march of soldiers heading deep into battle.
The way the cast got the audience involved at succinct moments was fun and didn’t feel pressured or unnecessary. You wanted to join in as if the show couldn’t go on without your involvement. The lighting change around the midway point absolutely blew me away, taking us away from the post-apocalyptic setting to a dystopian future filled with synth-styled drums, vibrant lights and LED drumsticks. The final number was completely masterful and required much detail and finesse from the entire cast, this left me with a feeling of mystery as the light arose once more on an empty stage and finishing with a bang – literally – ultimately left every single person in the audience wanting more.
Overall this show was not only fun, but really showed how you don’t need words to tell a story, that it’s in the presence, connection and pounding of your heart.