Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer


Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer (USA)

Brisbane Powerhouse & Theatre Works & London Artists Projects

In association with Soho Theatre

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Platform

February 18 – 20 2016

Reviewed by Katy Cotter


Penny Arcade is loud, sassy and hilarious.

In her latest show, Longing Lasts Longer, it definitely took a while for the audience to warm to her. It seemed, like me, this was their first time meeting and experiencing Penny. I initially felt like I was a part of a cult and being preached to. Penny was screaming at the top of her lungs – unfortunately I had chosen to sit near a speaker – and she continued to belt out her opinions for the entire duration of the show. She complained about everything from young people born after 1986, mothers with prams and no spatial awareness, those who call themselves activists but forget about the “acting” part. She complained about the internet and how her beloved New York City has changed over the nearly 50 years of her artistic career.

A perfectly selected soundtrack played under her ranting and just when you thought she might dazzle you with a song, no such luck, she launched straight back into her monologue. I was completely frustrated, and I wasn’t the only one. People were shifting in their seats, wondering if there would be any reprieve. I wanted to know more about Penny, about the little girl who left her Italian-migrant family to pursue her dreams in the Big Apple.

It was about halfway through the show when the pin finally dropped, the truth was revealed and questions were answered, and Penny’s intelligent and witty writing had the entire audience in the palm of her hand. Well, she won me over for certain. Penny began talking (and by talking, I mean she was still shouting) about the past and all the decades she had witnessed, pivotal moments in time that she was a part of. She explained how she was not nostalgic about the past and shut down claims of her yearning to reclaim her youth.

I suddenly saw her in all her eccentric and fiery glory; a woman of the moment. She was always eager to move forward when so many were stuck. Her words were beautiful, harrowing and devoid of bullshit.

By the end of the show, I was laughing out loud, beaming up at her from the front row. I recently turned 30 and Penny shared some invaluable gems of wisdom about life that set me a little more at ease. If ever you have a chance to see her, book your ticket. Your hearing will eventually improve, your soul will be smiling, and you’ll be dancing all night long. Penny Arcade was a fantastic start to WTF16 at Brisbane Powerhouse.


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