Review: Ukulele Dream Girl – Love at a Distance


By Alicia Sullivan


mindshare is a creative community and online mental health publication. Reflections are by mindshare writers with lived experience of mental illness, specifically critiquing through a mental health lens. Content may contain triggering themes.

What are the languages of love? Do we know how to speak these languages? Will Phi be able to catch a paper plane, even though Phi is a drama kid and not a sports kid? All questions posed during Ukulele Dream Girl: Love at a Distance. This show took us on an intimate, engaging, interactive, thought-provoking journey, gently and expertly guided by Phi.

Phi is a born storyteller and performer, and has a way of engaging her audience by just walking on the stage. She makes you feel comfortable with her softness, humour and warmth. Phi’s stage presence ensures this one-person show is never ordinary. Her and her ukulele, Willow, make an incredible dynamic duo.

Before heading to my seat in this open-aired show at The Lark, we were all handed an envelope with love hearts on the front. It was a nice touch and made the show feel more personal. The purpose of this envelope would be revealed during the show.

Phi walked on stage, streaming Willow. She was wearing a colourful hat, learning from her mistake from the show the day before (the hazards of performing at an open-viewed venue).

Phi shared her recent love at a distance experiences, without reluctance or shame. She was open about embracing polyamory and using her beliefs to challenge the stigma that exists within society about it. Phi is unafraid to self-reflect, be vulnerable, show empathy, analyse, and challenge stigma. Include around other topics like mental health, old love, obsession, asylum seekers/refugees, and DIY love. In doing so, she provoked the audience to self-reflect on what they think about love, their own heartbreak, the meaning of love at a distance and how to love at a distance – especially during these times. 

Phi uses different forms of storytelling during Ukulele Dream Girl. One method was having paper planes fly onto the stage with poignant, sweet, intense messages about distant love, desire, devotion and intimacy. Another was using original and well-known songs like Breathe me, Mumbo no 5 or her version of Valerie. Phi’s songs had me either bobbing along or they hit me with raw emotions. As did her poetry and how the Ukulele Dream Girl delivered them: with passion and heart.

Ukulele Dream Girl: Love at a Distance is a must see show with a potential surprise for those who attend. This show is like spending an hour with a friend and wanting more. Phi’s passion for love and understanding love (at a distance) radiates off the stage.  Who would not want to spend an evening with a girl and her ukulele? I give this show four stars. 

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