Fringe Review: Galah Galah

Gemma Caruana

By Megan Doherty


The first performance of the Fringe season was a sell-out, setting a fantastic tone for the run. The Chapel at The Courtyard of Curiosities, within The Migration Museum, was packed with an enthusiastic and supportive audience for the SA Premiere of Gemma Caruana’s “Galah Galah”. Caruana recounts her childhood, growing up in a large Maltese family and receiving a Catholic school education, navigating the lingering effects of societal expectations with humour, self-deprecation, and self-reflection.

The title of the show derives from Caruana’s childhood nickname, bestowed by her grandfather, reflecting her loud and boisterous nature as a child. It serves as a metaphor for the native bird, perceived as a pest despite its beautiful plumage. Caruana cleverly draws parallels between cultural attitudes towards the bird and societal attitudes towards outspoken women, questioning why both cannot be accepted for what they are.

Original songs, accompanied by backing tracks which Caruana proudly proclaims she created herself using GarageBand, are interspersed with projections including animation, home videos from Caruana’s childhood, embarrassing school photographs, and snippets from childhood diaries. Caruana’s lyrics are clever, sometimes bitingly so, and elicit a number of laugh out loud moments.

Caruana candidly discusses her experiences with anxiety and panic attacks, attributing them to elements of her upbringing, her perfectionism, and her need for connection. The weight of expectations, whether imposed by others or herself, recurs throughout the piece. However, “Galah Galah” falls short in broader mental health discussion, as it focuses solely on Caruana’s story. As a member of the general public without a personal connection to the performer, I found myself questioning why I should care. It’s crucial in this style of cabaret to communicate universal aspects of the experience and engage the audience. As the season progresses, hopefully, Caruana will relax in her delivery, fostering a more intimate connection with the audience, which at this performance seemed largely comprised of the performer’s friends and family, and this will not always be the case.

On a technical note, Caruana could review her microphone placement; the stand when used was too high, obscuring her face in shadow during her most touching moments. Additionally, the volume could be reduced significantly in the small space, as Caruana requires little amplification. Lastly, it’s worth noting the correct phrase is “change tack”, not “tact”.

Caruana is a fearless and funny performer, with the most beautifully crisp diction, who tells her story well and with much humour. Galah Galah is great fun, but from a mental health perspective, could say a great deal more.

3 Stars

To buy tickets to this show, go here.

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