Posts Tagged ‘WTF14


She Would Walk The Sky WTF14


WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse


February 13 – 23 2014


She Would Walk The Sky

Company 2

Brisbane Powerhouse

Turbine Platform

February 14 – 23 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward




An acclaimed Australian playwright and a world-class contemporary circus ensemble combine to create this acrobatic odyssey.


Combining the beautiful prose of multi-award-winning playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer (The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy) and the talents of critically-acclaimed circus performer and director Chelsea McGuffin (Cantina, Circa), She Would Walk the Sky is a special commission inspired by the theatricality and scale of Brisbane Powerhouse.


A story told above, in and around the audience, She Would Walk The Sky sees new fables and old myths unfold in the vaulted halls of Brisbane Powerhouse. Leave behind the world you know and enter a land where old fires, lost dreams and new hopes linger amidst the broken skies of an old empire.




Oh wow, what a magnificent finale to WTF14! Chelsea McGuffin’s She Would Walk The Sky, commissioned for Brisbane Powerhouse, is indeed an odyssey, taking us on a strange and exotic journey from the Turbine Platform to a place in a parallel universe, inhabited by birds and circus artists.


It’s an 8:30pm show on a school night, much too late for Poppy – she’s been to two shows in two days already – but she insisted on seeing this one, the last offering from this year’s festival and I’m grateful she experienced it. This is a different sort of circus. Circus is so often bright and shiny and colourful – we are so used to Cirque’s style now (my sister just took off on the USA tour of Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil!), and while She Would Walk The Sky is by no means a show without the colour and texture and tone and shine and finesse of exquisite technique and trust (not to mention gorgeous costumes by Tigerlil, intriguing writing by Finegan Krickmeyer and artful direction by McGuffin), it lays claim to a slightly different aspect of circus performance, harking back to the original vaudeville acts, blending storytelling, intense relationships, performance art and acrobatics to create something very special, and somehow, a little bit eerie.




The tricks are, of course, fabulous, demonstrating superior strength, balance and perfect timing, which rivals just about anything we’ve seen under the Grand Chapiteau, only in here, in this versatile space inside the Powerhouse, it’s such an intimate experience that we try to stop ourselves even from breathing, let alone gasping under our breath! When incredibly skilled performers like Mozes step into the spotlight, this is an almost impossible challenge, especially when his daring acts are backed by the stirring music played live by performers, and the musicians and composers, Trent Arkleysmith and Sue Simpson. The intensity is heightened because every other performer also has their eyes glued on Mozes as he spins and drops; it’s a fine lesson in focus and only one example of the tone of some parts of the show. On the flip side, there is lovely humour in the piece, and delicate, well-studied movement by Alex Mizzen, who has not only acquired the ticks and flicks of a gentle, beautiful, fragile birdlike creature, but has donned enormous eyelashes to make her look like Amazing Mayzie’s coy little sister.




The show is emceed by a rather clownish host, the youngest of the troupe, who confounds us with bits and pieces of prose, unfinished thoughts and definitive statements about the future of two of the performers (nothing comes of their pairing in the show, they will never end up together, nothing will come of it!), turning upon its head the notion of the ringmaster who is always in control. One of the most poignant moments of the show is felt when a heavy length of rope drops from above and continues to fall on top of him, burying him beneath its weight. At first it’s funny, but then the joke goes beyond, and somehow it becomes a forlorn observation on the fruitlessness of even trying at life. I almost cry. Is it just me? I have no doubt that I would have a different reading of the entire piece if I were to see it again.




I love this – and this is actually why I read the program notes, just for these gems – the intuitive writer, Kruckmeyer, has “given them some words, and left them to walk the sky.” He says, “It’s always a nice thing to give words (so static and wishing for life) to actors (so alive and waiting for words). But to give words to circus performers is something else entirely…”


“As humans, we balance, we fall, we are lifted, we are not. We fear for others, and we rejoice in what they do.”


She Would Walk The Sky is evocative of anything lovely and sad you’ve ever remembered, and I can’t wait to experience it again sometime soon.



지하 Underground WTF14


WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse


February 13 – 23 2014


지하 Underground (Australia/South Korea)

Motherboard Productions

Brisbane Powerhouse

Turbine Studio

February 12 – 16 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Follow your curiosity to 지하 Underground, a pop-up Korean speakeasy bursting with live music and magical storytelling.


Drink the night away with the bar’s eccentric proprietor as his ragtag crew of musicians unfold a timeless tale of love that transcends culture, language, and gender. Created by Jeremy Neideck and Nathan Stoneham alongside an international team, this strange and beautiful travelling tavern returns to Brisbane after sell-out seasons in 2011 and 2012.


Post-show, 지하 Underground‘s bar stays open, bursting with performances by special friends and lovers.


괴짜 사장님과 밤새도록 술잔을 기울이는 동안 , 바 종업원들로 구성된 오합지졸 밴드가 만들어내는 멋진 선율 속에 문화와 언어와 성性을 초월한 사랑 이야기가 펼쳐 집니다.


제레미 나이덱, 네이슨 스톤햄,그들과 한 팀을 이룬 국제적 공연자들에 의해 창작된 이 신비하고 아름다운 이동식 선술집은 2011년 2012년 전회 매진을 기록하고, 드디어 여러분들 곁으로 다시 찾아 옵니다!


공연 후, 지하 Underground 바(Bar)에서는 특별한 친구들과 연인들의 특별한 공연들이 계속 이어 지며 바도 오픈되어 있습니다!




지하 Underground is so nearly a Brisbane institution that I’m surprised a) it’s taken me so long to see it and b) it doesn’t yet have a permanent home somewhere. This is a show that has been evolving since 2011 and to be honest, I guess if it had a permanent home it might just lose a little of its magic, because the whole notion of “pop-up”, whether it’s in retail or the theatre, is a magical idea in itself.


It’s a theatrical experience completely unlike any other – part play, part musical, part karaoke – and a completely convincing unique brand of storytelling, which entices, embraces, and invites us after each show to stay and dance with the company and their special guests as part of an up-late program of awesome performers, including Michelle Zen and the Neon and Polytoxic.




It’s the kind of place where everyone greets you, you grab a drink from the bar, settle comfortably, have a great time and find it reeeally difficult to leave, and even more difficult to resist coming back for a second visit. We feel right at home in the unfamiliar surrounds (well, for me, having never been to Korea) of a cute and cluttered speakeasy, crossing paths with the most interesting people, and sharing the quirky space and the queer love story created by Jeremy Neideck and Nathan Stoneham.


Told in English and Korean, it’s not your typically commercially touted tale, and embedded within an original musical soundtrack there are just as many lighter, lovelier moments as there are dark, devastating and confronting segments, both musically and theatrically. A fine balance is created by multi-skilled storytellers/performers who have a special gift for finding the rhythm of the piece, individually and as a tight-knit ensemble, without appearing to look for it at all. The writing and direction allow the story to unfold as naturally as if we were all friends up for a big night out together…and we actually feel as if we are. The voices are raw, real and fantastic, and everybody picks up a musical instrument or two. A special surprise performance from vocalist and guitarist random audience member, Henry, sets the relaxed tone of the evening before the pace picks up with a game of fish tank BINGO to decide which of the 지하 Underground bar staff will play which characters in the story they retell each night. Highly energised and hilarious sequences, such as the Coconut Princess (Neideck) racing from one end of the space to the other, through the audience several times to climb up onto an exercise bike on top of a cabinet while singing, smiling, and remembering each time to pick up his suitcase of stuff, are juxtaposed against strange and beautifully mellow moments of memory and quiet contemplation.




지하 Underground is such a strong piece, and it stands out at this festival for being truly original, challenging AND entertaining.


As such 지하 Underground has developed a cult following since its inception. I genuinely expect it to run forever, in some capacity, all over the world! It’s a new kind of crazy-genius cross-cultural collaborative creative gem that has real heart and soul (and watermelon and sparkle and disco!). It works on the heart and the head, and on the soul, and I’m going to find it really hard to let it go; its characters and their stories will stay with me, like a dream that I can’t get back to, long after the music and the sparkles have gone.





Black Faggot & Mario: Queen of the Circus Presents His Crown Jewels WTF14


WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse


February 13 – 23 2014


Brisbane Powerhouse

Visy Theatre & Turbine Platform

February 19 – 23 & 14 – 22 2014


Reviewed by Meredith McLean


It seems WTF doesn’t so much strive to inspire audiences with the diverse culture of other nations, as it inspires absurd culture and ideas making crowds say, “WTF?” At least, this was my experience for the two nights I got to enjoy the festival.




Last Friday a friend and myself were lucky enough to see the aptly titled Black Faggot. Hailing from New Zealand this kiwi duo produced by Multinesia Productions consistently made us laugh and cry and gasp. Not just myself, but those in the audience too.


This series of different monologues and skits tell tales of the “undercover brother” trying to convince his family he is straight. There are funny moments with dance floors and fabric wallpapers, and touching moments with brothers, mothers, friends, lovers and those we don’t quite know what to label. Because love is complicated and unique, it is also why love is the same for everyone. We all struggle with love, and it is so rewarding when we finally do find it. That’s what Black Faggot shows us; when it doesn’t make us laugh our asses off.



After that we accidentally stumbled upon the outdoor show, Wedhus Gembel, a collaboration between Melbourne’s Snuff Puppets and independent Indonesian performers. We watched strange creatures and puppet-made monsters skitter around the front entrance to the Powerhouse before deciding it was time to go. That’s when a strange, evil looking chicken, obviously waiting to join the scene in Wedhus Gembel, started to follow us. He posed and stared us down while I took a photo (everyone loves Instagram) and that’s when things got weird.


We started to walk on and he started to walk on. We walked a little faster and he walked a little faster. Without warning we were running and he ran with us. He caught up to my friend and hooked his beak into her arm. Half screaming, half laughing, we bolted for New Farm Park and when we finally reached a safe shaded spot on Lamington street we could stop, catch our breath and exclaim “WTF?”


There was a lot less running the next night. But don’t think we got off that easy. To make up for it there was quite a bit of singing greatest hits from Queen and cheering on poor audience members brought on stage to help out.




I’m talking about Mario: Queen of the Circus presents his Crown Jewels.


Mario’s performance is a wonderful balance of frivolity, vulgarity and absurdity.


Mario’s talent for all kinds of circus trickery is impressive and some of his jewels, talented young women from near and far, can be awe-inspiring.


Awe inspiring for their tender moments and stunning beauty but sometimes they are awe-inspiring simply for the strange, strange manners of some of the acts. Helen Cassidy’s performance as Julia Gillard is truly bizarre. Though her mimicry of the accent is impeccable, what happens when she takes her clothes off is startling and cringe-worthy. Other acts, similarly, stunned the audience into silence. Kellie Vella’s performance showing off her flexibility is slightly off-putting and eerie.


But not all of the show is like this. Tiger Lil, a West End girl, comes back for more than a couple acts in this strange present day vaudeville show. She is enchanting and hilarious as she haphazardly spins around the stage performing hoop tricks, magic acts and even demonstrating her flirtatious skills with power tools.


Alex Mizzen creates a hand-balancing act that doesn’t draw to mind circus tricks. It is so peaceful, and her entire performance is emotional and angelic. The crowd watched silently not because they were bored or disappointed, but because it was incredible and no one wanted to stir a ripple in this beautiful moment.


Mario was the perfect MC for this line-up of lovely ladies. He closed the show seamlessly with a rendition of another of Freddie Mercury’s great hits. It’s one we all knew the words to. I think you might guess it. After the reception this show received at the end of this weird and wonderful festival, there’s no doubt we hope to see Mario back again soon.



Abandon WTF14


WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse


February 13 – 23 2014



OperaQ Studio & Dancenorth

Brisbane Powerhouse

Powerhouse Theatre

February 21 – 23 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



“A beautiful, thrilling collaboration…more than opera, more than dance – ‘Abandon’ threw you back into your seat before pulling you into its arms.”


Kris Stewart, Brisbane Powerhouse Artistic Director



Bodies fly, voices soar and emotions run riot in this visceral new dance opera experience.


Abandon is the critically-acclaimed collaboration between Dancenorth’s Raewyn Hill, Opera Queensland’s Lindy Hume and classical accordion virtuoso James Crabb. Hume and Hill co-devised and co-directed the work and virtuoso accordionist Crabb created bespoke arrangements to accompany the soprano, alto and bass voices, which he perform on stage, underpinning each character’s emotional journey. Raewyn created five solo works with Dancenorth dancers France Hervé, Bradley Chatfield, Erynne Mulholland, Alice Hinde and Andrew Searle.  At the same time, Lindy and James were working at the OperaQ Studio in Brisbane with singers Monique Latemore (soprano), Annie Lower (soprano), Elizabeth Lewis (alto) and Chris Richardson (bass), and cellist Teije Hylkema.


This is a unique production, so extraordinarily beautiful, which delves deeply into a specific form – the da capo aria form of musical composition – a form with a three-phase journey interpreting, analysing and exploring a single emotion in depth and complexity. Whether or not you’re familiar with the form, or with any or all of the arias from five of Handel’s operas – Tolomeo, Alcina, Acis and Galatea, Orlando and Hercules – the effect is extraordinary, bringing singers, dancers and musicians together on stage to reckon with the force of love and the loss of it.


The force appears to work largely on the diagonal, pulling and pushing the performers across the space, and across the floor, through “fragile” foam block walls constructed, and partially deconstructed by the performers, brilliantly designed for dancers by Bruce McKinven and lit by Bosco Shaw. (Are they foam blocks? They look like foam blocks). Raewyn Hill’s choreography creates stunning still and moving pictures. Incredibly physical, the movement is strong and raw, and it must require nerves of steel from the dancers as they thrust themselves backwards and forwards, literally throwing their bodies to the wind, as if they are propelled by something other worldly. Any fragility is reserved for solo work, and for the support of one another as the singers (operatically) croon in the centre of this incredible ensemble’s embrace.




This production highlights the need for performers to be adept in multiple disciplines, adding to the overall production quality and making each area of expertise all the more exquisite. These singers can dance, baby! In evocative shapes and shadows, the singers’ gestures echo the dancers’ movements, while they’re singing, sitting or lying on the floor, and standing or hanging across other performers or pieces of wall. (Talk about being show-fit!). But not only that, they each have a distinct feel for the space, and for the edge of it, and for their place in it, much more so than many stage actors, and vocalists who are taught so often now (and forevermore I fear) to claim the space, find their light, and look to the camera… Away from the cameras, in live theatre, there is still that magical space between performers and audience. It almost becomes tangible in Abandon. The feeling that you can reach out and grasp it comes too from Alistair Trung’s deliciously spare and layered and textured designs; the blacks, greys and luscious red wine tones cling and fall and drape and reveal…sensible shoes. This is almost a complete wardrobe for anybody who lovingly embraces their awareness of the ways the body moves, though of course, those who spend more time in Noosa than anywhere else would require whites as well. As such, this is not an overly dark production, despite its costuming, its themes and its cries of woe, until the conclusion perhaps, when one individual finds a way (or the will) to leave, or meets his end.




It’s beautifully packaged emotion – the absolute extremes of the highs and lows of human existence – that drives the fluid movement and informs the rich voices. There are a couple of delightfully light moments, very funny, thanks largely to the comedic skills of soprano, Annie Lower, whose character work is evident (I look forward to seeing her as Musetta), and there are a few raw moments that really capture the joy, grief, loss, jealousy, self-loathing and self-destruction of an intense love affair, all supported by projected lyrics, which we’d seen as one complete wall of text upon taking our seats. This, and not its caricature, is the sort of opera/dance theatre I love to experience.


More of this please, so more of us can live life less ordinary more often.



Wedhus Gembel


WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse


February 13 – 23 2014


Wedhus Gembel

Created by Snuff Puppets & Indonesian Artists (Indonesia)

Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse Stores Building

February 18 – 22 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


A collaboration between Melbourne’s Snuff Puppets and independent Indonesian performers, Wedhus Gembel combines puppets, dance, theatre and music to retell an Indonesian fable about the cycle of life and the power of nature.


There are more photos to come, and I could tell you so much more about this awesome production, like why it made me think of Woodford Folk Festival’s Fire Event, and the subtleties of the story itself. But it would take even longer to add a lot more and you’re busy, and I want you to know that the best thing you can do is try to get any of the last remaining tickets and experience it for yourself. Wedhus Gembel is magic and it must finish Saturday. Go, before it disappears.




Bi’unang guguru ti gunung. Beunang nanya ti Guriang.

I have been taught it among the mountain, I have enquired after it from the mountain spirit.


In a Javanese village, a young couple desperately wants a child. The old couple of the village tries to help by telling them the old stories, which contain many lessons about “walking with nature, not against it.”


The couple is blessed with a child from Gunung Merapi, a sacred volcano but the baby, born ugly and green and loathed by all except its mother, grows into a giant beast and devours the villagers, including its father and mother. The beast actually tears wayang golek style heads from people; it’s quite terrifying. Poppy and I recognised the similarities between the beast and Elphie, in Wicked. Born different, feared and detested, bullied, ostracised, learned to hate, learned to destroy. I held Poppy while she sobbed because the people hated the baby.





The Javanese clown god, Semar, convinces the creature to regurgitate the people, giving back all he had taken, and the people dance together in celebration of their new life. In the chaos of the devouring and the dancing, three random audience members were eaten up, and the girls did a terrific job of portraying spewed and pooed out people!


The last thing to come out of the belly of the grown-up-grotesque-baby-creature is Wedhus Gembel – the sheep or shaggy goat – and the sheep is the beast, banished forever to the mountains. The same name is given to the toxic hot white cloud of gas that rolls down the side of the volcano. When Mt Merapi erupts every 5-10 years, the land is decimated and people die. So it’s just as easy to understand the Javanese word “gembel” in its third context – that being, a destitute person who has lost everything, possibly as the result of a natural disaster, and regarded as little more than garbage.


If it sounds strange that’s because it is – to us at least. (Strange = different). It’s another culture’s folklore and I can imagine the Javanese might think it strange to make a national hero of a criminal. Of course, they might be more inclined to believe a serpent has carved out the landscape.




Wedhus Gembel is a wonderful, colourful, chaotic collaboration between the individual Javanese artists and Melbourne based company, Snuff Puppets, who are well known for their extraordinary puppets, having appeared at theatres, rock concerts, pubs and nightclubs, festivals and street events everywhere. Their WTF14 performance was originally scheduled to be outside on the Turbine Platform but for whatever reason we saw it in the Stores Building, the home of Vulcana Women’s Circus, which was a swelteringly hot and sweaty space; very tropical, very appropriate.


Poppy and I sat on cushions on the floor, effectively making us front row fodder, and there were times when she hid her head in my lap, genuinely wary of the leering faces of wayang golek faces on the performers, and of the village rooster, and of Wedhus Gembel himself, as each stepped over us and through the audience. Many of the slightly older children raced to secure front row cushion positions half way through the show, when they realised how different their experience might be. The magic of the theatre, in this case, is that this show is ACTUALLY for the whole family, and it is especially for all the brothers who have ever sneered at ballet concerts. (My brother, who is coincidentally currently teaching in Jakarta, never did! He would join us, donned in a borrowed leotard, in the lounge room for rehearsal!). The juxtaposition of contemporary Javanese culture against the ancient repeats and repeats, with characters on mobile phones and listening (or not) to the old stories at the same time. The hand-painted riot of colour on one costume is peeled off, making way for another – it’s “business attire”, all depressing, conforming, suffocating black – and an entire city scene, complete with traffic soundscape, reminds us that we are all the same, and we are still the same.


As if there were not enough action to keep up with on stage, there is also the dalang (puppet master) on stage right, providing various voices, traditional song stuff and gorgeous gamelan accompaniment. I know, after several hours/days of the Mahabharata or Ramayana I might feel differently, but I’ve only ever experienced abridged productions and I love the sounds in shortish stints.


We see a traditional wayang kulit performance, but we see it from the reverse – from backstage – which gives us the unique advantage of viewing the characters viewing the play, as we must in Hamlet when the players come to visit, though the effect of the shadow puppets is a little less awesome from this perspective. A reminder that we are not in control, perhaps. I love that we get just about the entire repertoire of traditional Indonesian arts and a big spoonful of culture in this production. For those unfamiliar with it, Wedhus Gembel actually makes a powerful introduction to the culture, and to the sense of ritual and ceremony in so many modern cultures. We even get the fragrance of incense, which is brought in ceremoniously by the performers as they enter the space. So many elements of ritual are glossed over in the theatre, but this show makes a point of stopping still and observing ceremony, giving the story just as much, if not greater, relevance now than it may have had historically.


The city characters and their choreography, along with clashing, discordant sounds make me shudder and Poppy and I whisper about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and pollution, and why kids and their parents should see this show. Yes, we conducted an entire conversation during the show! I know! There is enough noise and enough extended action at one point to be able to do so. Despite its length (about 60 minutes duration), Wedhus Gembel suffers only once from slow pace self indulgent syndrome, but this section also allows some time for reflection; there is a lot to take in, after all. In the car on the way home, Poppy hits RECORD on my iPhone and after she’s said, “Goodbyyye” and hits STOP she listens to our chat play back all the way from Caboolture to our Buderim exit. She tells me the most important part of the show is that we get the message not to hate others. We can learn hate but we should never be taught hate. We are, after all, all the same.




A Boy and His Soul WTF14


WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse


February 13 – 23 2014


A Boy and His Soul (USA)

Written and performed by Colman Domingo

Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre 

February 12 – 16 2014


Review by Guy Frawley


A Boy and His Soul




A Boy and His Soul is an autobiographical tale of three interwoven stories told by the electrifying Colman Domingo. A love letter to the music Colman was raised with, an homage to his family of larger than life characters and the story of a young African-American guy coming to terms with his sexuality in Philadelphia’s inner city during the 80s and early 90s.



If I was to look for fault in A Boy and His Soul it would be found in this final strand of his story. Whilst the rest of the show serves a blend of entertaining over the top theatricality and heartfelt ode to the days of yore, Domingo’s coming out story (predictably accompanied by Diana Ross’s queer anthem I’m Coming Out) clunks through the same territory we’ve all heard a hundred times before. I’ve no issue with the authenticity of the tale, this is Domingo’s story and in the life of any gay man one’s coming out story is a big moment. But in A Boy and His Soul nothing new is brought to the stage with the retelling of this part of his tale. Where Stefanie Preissner brought a fresh voice and angle to her telling of 20-something angst in Solpadeine is My Boyfriend, on the same stage only an hour previous none the less, Domingo’s coming out seemed to just rehash the same story we’ve all heard before.


Now that that’s out of the way let me tell you why I absolutely adored the rest of this show!


It’s my firm belief that soul music is a genre best enjoyed with company. Grooving along at the barbecue, in the arms of a lover, with friends on a long hot summer’s night. James Brown calls on you to get on up because this is a music that’s made to be lived! It’s this shared experience that is the true soul of this show. Domingo’s family stories are filled with colour and detail as he brings to life the characters of his mother, stepfather, brother and sister. His impersonation of these individuals are fully realised and many of the shows best moments appear when he effortlessly adopts these personas. He embodies these characters with a greater effect than any costume could provide and it would be easy to say A Boy and His Soul has one of the best ensembles of I’ve seen in recent months if this wasn’t all a one man show.


Domingo performs with a burning, effervescent charisma, from start to finish he had the audience eating out of his hand. The costumes and sets are relatively non existent, just an old record player and two milk crates full of albums. But with the presence that Domingo brings to the stage and the constantly pumping soundtrack of soul classics, there isn’t any need for further embellishment.


His joy at regaling these stories and revelling in the music of his people is thoroughly infectious. I say it’s the music of his people because it’s obvious that these aren’t just songs he’s enjoyed, but songs that have raised, sustained and guided him. These weren’t just names and faces on a record sleeve but extensions of his family; ever present throughout his formative years putting a song in his heart and a groove in his step.



Solpadeine is My Boyfriend WTF14


WTF 2014 Brisbane Powerhouse


February 13 – 23 2014


Solpadeine is My Boyfriend (Ireland)

By Stephanie Preissner

Brisbane Powerhouse (Supported by Culture Ireland)

Visy Theatre

February 12 – 16 2014


Reviewed by Guy Frawley


Presented as one long lyrical poem, Stefanie Preissner’s Solpadeine is My Boyfriend, is a contemporary story of 20-something angst set against the backdrop of a Ireland’s failing economy and the mass emigration of Preissner’s generation to ‘luckier’ countries.


Solpadeine is My Boyfriend


Solpadeine is My Boyfriend has a brilliantly well written script that uses the rhyme and rhythm of Stephanie Preissner’s lyrical poem to great effect. We’re introduced to our protagonist as she sets forth from her provincial home in southern Ireland for the promise of a better life in the capital. This move isn’t the cause, but it does mark the beginning of Preissner’s own iliad of woes. I doubt if crafting, writing and staging such a personal piece of theatre could ever be a simple task, but throughout the entire show Preissner performs with with an effortless intimacy with her audience. The themes are heavy and this show could easily have been an hour long slog through a morass of substance addiction and self loathing,  but by the very grace of Preissner’s heartfelt presentation Solpadeine is My Boyfriend more often sparkles with humour and pathos than it does plumb the darkest depths.


The angst ridden musings of another Gen Y may seem cliche (Can’t I just stay home and binge on some episodes of Girls?) and yes, tales of youthful angst often lapse into dragging up the same worn out tropes and stereotypes. But in Solpadeine is My Boyfriend the prose is, refreshingly, self aware and avoids rehashing the same old schtick. She’s conscious of the fact that more of her needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy are being met than many others around the world but this doesn’t lessen the sting of her sense of betrayal when confronted with a changing world. Raised on the economic back of the Celtic Tiger, Preissner’s post-2008 rude awakening mirrors the experience of millions of 20-somethings globally who were to find the promises of their youth turn to dust as they inherited the woes of their parents generations economic mismanagement.


Solpadeine is My Boyfriend is a personal and charismatic tale of one woman’s experience coming of age in a time of disappointment and failed promises. It’s not just a story of a generation abandoned by their country but a battle cry for those who are left behind, when those who can flee do.