Review: Self Isolation Songbook

self iso

By Anna Jeavons

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The Ukulele Dream Girl’s latest production is a raw and vulnerable piece showcasing creator Phi Theodoros’ great capacity for community building, innovation, reflection, and love.

“Self Isolation Songbook” was presented in a live-stream format due to sudden COVID-19 restrictions in South Australia during its production. For me this did not take away from the experience at all. The technical aspects were clean, impressive, and creative, and I enjoyed eating dinner and dancing on my couch with a friend during the show.

We open to a dressing-gown clad Dream Girl, and an uplifting, familiar tune, “I Like Your Face”—featuring the new lyrical addition of “don’t touch your face”. Music and tips on COVID-Safety all in one!

Not long after we’re switching screens to a yoga walk-through—yoga being our protagonist’s favoured strategy for maintaining routine and practicing self-care during lockdown. I stretched along on my lounge room floor, and enjoyed the Dream Girl’s clever mimicry of a modern day yogi.

Through the rest of the show Phi shares poems, ponderings, and words of comfort—all reflecting on a world gone topsy turvy in light of a global pandemic. She is open and honest about her personal anxieties and difficulties maintaining human connection—even as it became safe to see loved ones beyond a screen.

This was relatable content for me. I’ve struggled with isolation and loneliness in 2020 but also often refuse to leave my own bubble of comfort to actually be with others. It’s not always easy, and sometimes my brain gets paralysed as I simultaneously retreat, judge myself for doing so, and meditate on the negative repercussions.

Phi let us know that despite all the yoga, mindfulness and gratitude exercises, she still “lost her way” when she stopped “showing up” in person to connect.

This was a wonderful take-away. Hyper-connectivity does not equal connection. The power of time with loved ones or community IN PHYSICAL SPACE should never be underestimated, and we all need to work to do it. Even when it’s hard.

Another particularly touching moment in the show came when Phi brought her partner onto the virtual stage to sing an ode in memory of a lost friend. This was complimented by reflections on experiences of grief Phi and her loved ones have had this year, and the many forms grief has taken for us all in 2020.

“Self Isolation Songbook” shone a light on how truly challenging this time in all our lives has been, yet in such a way that my viewing companion and I shut down our Zoom feeling happy. We’d laughed, we’d chatted, we’d danced and stretched, and we’d thought about what we’ve been through and how we can learn from it. This production is a true testament to the power of vulnerability, song, and a big warm smile under a pink fringe.

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