Review: Does It Please You? – The Final Saga
By Helen Karakulak
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Does It Please You is an ambitious hour of theatre as a talented ensemble present disjointed vignettes that speak to the battle between individuality and the desire to please. A combination of original songs, expressive dance and vulnerable monologues display aspects of anxious behaviours and responses so many of us develop when faced with requests – both subtle and overt – of others.
Created by Taylor Nobes, the production is a unique collection of lived experience with a healthy dose of theatrical madness. Despite the potential of its premise, the erratic storytelling lacked clarity, making it difficult to coherently ascertain each theme the writing tried to tackle throughout.
On the night of review, the closing monologue which should have tied the messaging into a neat bow was tainted by a distracting audience causing Nobes to break character. While she recovered quickly, the power of her words lost their effectiveness. The production artfully combines comedy and authentic experiences of mental ill-health. However, the balance between the two comes undone as the outrageous comedic elements leave trickles of audience laughter overshadowing the depth the performers so generously give.
Does It Please You shines in its vulnerability, such as in the incredible physicality of Sam Lau in a metatheatrical scene where he is given the direction to lean into an Asian caricature. Lau artfully shows how far his character can be pushed until he breaks with skilful characterisation and projection. Lau’s keyboard accompaniment to Nobes’ delightful vocals in a later scene is another highlight, as the original track provides the clearest insight into the mental health messaging of the production.
Kate Burgess and Hanna Instrell-Walker shine as they perform engaging choreography with strikingly fluid movement. Their dances are captivating and poignant. Joined by Mikayla Rudd and Nobes, a hyped up “boss bitch” dance number is certainly the most empowering scene, with guaranteed amusement.
Overall, the viewer experience of Does It Please You is not unlike that of scrolling through a Tik-Tok “For You” page. It’s a curated showing of dances and characterisation manically flipping from one scene or mood to the next. This turbulent narrative isn’t as seamless as you’d expect, and it risks certain key messaging getting lost with its humour. While the presentation is certainly of the time, catering well to the attention spans social media has trained us into, it borders on theatrical whiplash. However, the talent of the cast is commendable as they channel high energy into fast-paced insights on trends of self-regulation, over-apologising and other pitfalls of mental ill-health.