Collapsible, Redline Productions | Review

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A unique take on what happens when the part inside all of us that’s teetering on the edge bursts forward, and the perils of Australia’s ‘she’ll be right’ culture on those who really aren’t.

Essie has lost her job, her girlfriend, and can’t seem to keep up with her friends and family. Insisting she’s alright, but wondering if maybe she’s not, and with endless time between job applications to spare, she seeks out those who know her best to help her verbalise who she is. If she is real at all?

Margaret Perry’s script offers an unfiltered, empathetic account of the everyday impact of a mental health crisis on those experiencing one, and those who love them. The skilled direction of Zoë Hollyoak and Morgan Moroney sees modern tech like live cinema and motion capture pair with comedy classics like puppetry to create a story that will cause both laughter and tears to overflow.

Janet Anderson as Essie allows herself to be, and enjoy being, intensely vulnerable in this one-woman production. With this, she gifts us with a deeply personal insight into the way in which complex mental health conditions such as dissociation affect our ability to survive, let alone thrive, in a society ill-equipped to accommodate. Her stage presence and quirky, bold use of exaggerated accents and physical comedy ensure that the story doesn’t become unbearable heavy. She’s also never at the mercy of the multimedia elements of the production; rather, they serve and elevate her performance by setting context through Essie’s parodies of TikTok trends and creating an atmosphere akin to the instability Essie is experiencing through sound and visual effects.

Set design by Hayden Relf and camerawork by Alex Stamell and Robbie Alexander work together to create constant movement, whether Anderson is ducking in and out of doors, preparing for or in the midst of a close up, or conversely disappearing from space and leaving Essie as alone as she feels. It again maintains the balance between the comedy and drama of the story, so you can appreciate both from beginning to end.

This is the kind of story that makes me appreciate the power of theatre to show people that they are seen, particularly those struggling with topics our society still gatekeeps or considers taboo. These are the stories that need to be told, and I’m so glad they find a home and a curious audience in Australia’s independent theatre scene.

Purchase your ticket to Collapsible here.

Collapsible, Redline Productions | Tasting Notes

Aussie Season9 Mar to 1 April 2023, Redline Productions, The Old Fitz Theatre, Sydney NSW
Ticket $$34-52
WriterMargaret Perry
DirectorZoë Hollyoak & Morgan Moroney
Theatre Type & GenreComedy-drama
See it if you likeone-woman shows, seeing theatre mixed with live cinema