Fringe Review: The Totally Unofficial and Classified Guide to Surviving the Impossible

Screenshot 2024-03-17 at 7.24.20 pm

By Alex McGee

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The two young players held the stage throughout the performance with wit, ability and focus. It was hard to believe they were acting, as the material, the conversation, the interaction were so true to the lives of teenage girls in Australia in 2024.

As the mother of a 13-year-old girl, I felt I was in the room with my own daughter. The props were simple, yet completely realistic. The activities the two actors engaged in were authentic and so normal. The emphasis on interaction and story meant that expensive props were unnecessary, and what little was used supported the fact that the story and the people were more important that any material objects.

The actors moved effortlessly between characters as they took on other personas across the performance. And the performance lived up to its premise completely.

To begin with, the link to mental health did not seem immediately clear, but in the last moments, it all became obvious in a real ‘aha’ moment. Of course that was where the story was leading, and of course, that was why the interactions became this way. The build up to the crisis was expertly handled, though I would have liked to have seen more of an in-depth resolution. Perhaps that is because I’m an older adult, and not a teen, navigating this. At the end, the girls seemed to have made up and moved on far too quickly, and I am not sure this is reflected in real life.

However, this story was drawn from personal experiences and conversations, written by the performers from this Whyalla acting group, so I am not sure I can dispute their truth. It showed the resilience of both friends as they understood and navigated their way through a situation neither of them seemed to fully understand, but still had to experience. It portrayed two young friends as determined to help each other, to be friends together and to each other and I think this strengthens the idea that those with mental health issues are the experts on their own experience. It was a cutting comment on the contribution of professionals and schools, but again, this was personal experience talking and I would urge schools to listen carefully to this story.

The performance made me think deeply about my own child, and how I might support her, without talking down to her – enabling her to let me into her truth without me telling her what I think from my story. And I congratulate this production for accomplishing this. This was a very thought provoking piece, well written, well performed and well worth watching more than once. There was a lot of nuance, and I’m not sure I caught it all the first time around. Thank you for your story and your performances.

4 Stars

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