Review By Rosie Niven
The tiny back room at the Sydney Fringe Emerging Artist Sharehouse seems like it would be a more fitting storage cupboard then a theatre space, but Melbourne-based Sophie McCrae utilises it well for a tight 35-minute monologue that explores the intricacies of trust and intimacy in a relationship and how previous trauma can impact your ability to embrace new romantic endeavours. A Few Things That Happened on the Way to Now plunges us right into her chaotic world, with the modest space allowing for beautiful intimacy and a fitting space for McCrae to bare her soul without hesitation.
The nature of multiple shows within a venue that is not structurally capable of supporting them posed a challenge for the show, and many poignant and powerful moments were almost swallowed by loud cheers and chatter from neighbouring audiences. However, amongst this, McCrae held herself incredibly well, maintaining absolute professionalism as she powered against the noise. Despite this challenge, McCrae had the ability to hold us in the space with her, delivering moments of vulnerability and honesty without faltering.
McCrae utilised minimal set pieces to complement her narrative without ever detracting from the overall performance, constantly making creative choices with her set and props to invite us into different moments in time. However, there were some challenging aspects in McCrae’s approach which made it hard to fully engage with the content. As part of her battles with the noise interference, McCrae upped the energy and enthusiasm, alongside the pace, which often resulted in rushed lines, an unwavering tone and a lack of weight for some moments in critical need of a punch. As such, we found ourselves jarringly switching between anecdotes of potted plants, egg timers and stark accounts of sexual assault. The rushed nature also led to a somewhat cliched and repetitive cadence in support of a character with less substance than she was likely intending.
Post-COVID, audiences seem to be drawn to the comedic, in search of a positive night out at the theatre. With this in mind, A Few Things That Happened On The Way To Now is intelligently presented, blending comedic punchlines with serious stories of loss and loneliness. With clear influence from other contemporary female works like Fleabag and I May Destroy You, McCrae engages in typically heavy topics with a general humour and levity, before doubling back to drive home the gravity of the topics just raised. Although it was not the most polished piece, McCrae has crafted a timely and thought-provoking half hour that is well worth its inclusion in Sydney Fringe’s wide array of authentic and unique works for 2022.