CAMP, Siren Theatre Co & Seymour Centre | Review

Don’t have time to read the full review? Click here for a quick summary of the who, what, where and wine of this production.

A punchy, female-forward tribute to the early days of Pride when campaigning for LGBTQIA+ rights meant sacrificing one’s livelihood, family, friends and personal safety.

The turbulent politics of the 70s saw the Vietnam War dividing Australians, and the body of murdered lecturer become a catalyst for LGBTQIA+ activism. CAMP traces the emergence of the Campaign Against Moral Persecution (C.A.M.P), and the terrible prices many paid to be the pioneers of the right to love.

The show jumps from the 70s movement to present-day, allowing the characters to look back and reflect from the perspective of an Australia that is right now hosting WorldPride. Brown is clearly conscious of the immense change that has happened in this time but reminds us that many of the consequences the 78’ers faced linger to this day in the form of poor health, ongoing injury, and the absence of those friends, such as character Dave (Adriano Cappelletta), who didn’t survive. The writing is clever but execution on stage a little lacking; each jump between the past and present could have been better distinguished to ensure the audience isn’t playing catch up.

A stellar cast is on show in CAMP, with the whole ensemble giving insightful, emotion-laden performances. Tamara Natt shines as Jo, a mum who lost custody of her children when she came out as a lesbian. Her competing needs to regain her parental rights and drive the CAMP movement for broader LGBTQIA+ rights stretch her painfully in two opposite directions, and Natt gives a capturing performance of Jo’s changing priorities and personal growth over the decades, which Genivieve Moody builds on fluidly in her depiction of present day Jo. Lou McInnes and Sandie Elridge, also give standout performances as Tracy then and now respectively, who escapes atrocious treatment after being institutionalised for her sexuality. Elridge’s depiction of Tracy learning the extent of her mistreatment in youth is nothing short of heartbreaking.

Music and sound design by Jessica Dunn and choreography by Emily Ayoub come together to create unique moments throughout the show that momentarily stop the cast in their tracks, then start them up again mid-scene. They reminded me of photos and videos taken in times of turbulence –representing just a snapshot of what happened back then, with so much more behind the lens.

Paired with these intertwining stories is a funky, diverse array of costumes depicting the decade’s most popular personalities. We have flower child dresses, disco flare pants, colourful vests and a whole lot of orange and brown in the mix that makes a great visual impact on stage.

Amid the glitter, nudity and dancing that is Pride each year, CAMP serves as a reminder of all that came before, and all that still needs to come. The discriminatory slurs and violence people in the LGBTQIA+ community faced in the 70’s are still a huge issue today, and there are still places in Australia where it is possible to be institutionalised for your sexuality. Far from a discouragement though, CAMP is a call to arms; after all, if they did it, why can’t you or I?

Purchase your ticket to CAMP here.

Sauvignon Blanc | Wine Pairing

During the 70s table wine was becoming popular in Australia, so I’ve picked the most classic one. The characters in CAMP would have been knocking back a few in their activist days, and their older, present day selves could definitely crack open a bottle while reminiscing together. It can be tough to find a good Sauv, with a lot falling flat or giving too much acidity, but when the balance is right its mix of crisp white fruit flavours like apple and pear and grassiness can be absolutely delightful.

My Pick: Hear No Evil 2021 Organic Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Plains, SA

A light and fresh sauv with green apple and peach on the palate, followed by a crisp lime finish that lingers pleasantly.

Purchase a bottle for $16 here.

CAMP, Siren Theatre Co & Seymour Centre | Tasting Notes

Aussie Season15 Feb to 4 Mar 2023, Siren Theatre Co, Seymour Centre, Sydney NSW
Ticket $$36-49
WriterElias Jamieson Brown
DirectorKate Gaul
Theatre Type & GenrePlay, comedy, political
See it if you likeactivist stories, Australian history
Other Infoproduced in association with Sydney WorldPride
Wine PairingSauvignon Blanc
Criteria for Wine PairingLight body, crisp fruits like green apple and citrus, long finish
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