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Review: Christie Whelan Browne: Show People at Wharf 1 Theatre

Review by Cynthia Ning

The summer sun and cool breeze with the Sydney Harbour bridge in sight was a beautiful distraction to look at as we power walked to the Wharf 1 theatre after struggling to drive in through the city. We managed to make it just in time and shuffled over to our cabaret table seating with acknowledgment of country. The theatre set up was simple, making the most out of the space with a grand piano featuring pianist (Mathew Frank) to the stage right playing interim music and props, table and chairs to the stage left.

We heard hurried footsteps running toward the stage and were introduced to Jessica, the bubbly assistant to Christie who also had trouble finding parking. She proceeds to welcome us to the show and then segues into her up-and-coming story as an actress, blowing us away with her impressive soprano range and dragging poor Matty to be her unwilling accompaniment. After a few digs at Christie and some more self-promotion to the producers and directors out in the audience, Jess inspired us to take our opportunity in the moment. I will say, she’s one to watch out for in 2023.

This unexpected entry loaded with theatre jokes had warmed up the audience for more laughs to come. The blackouts worked effectively for quick scene transitions and the magic of lighting effects transported us to a different place. Simple drama blacks were worn with key accessories to identify a new character on stage, effectively transforming Christie for every scene. There was a clear distinction between all the characters through accents, mannerisms, and tones that created believable backstories and provided an intimate insight into their relationship with theatre.

From memory, I believe there were 7 scenes and 8 characters that Christie deep-dived into, embodied with great physicality and featured her triple threat ability. The variation between ages and gender showed different lifecycles of an actor and some of the tough realities they face. Christie had intertwined part of her own story revealing vulnerability, heavy themes and moments that shape the story of the people involved. Mathew provided comedic relief as the accompanying musician and doubled as a gentle supporting actor in some scenes.

The pacing felt natural between segments and not rushed. Christie’s lungs of steel projected her dialogue all the way to the back of the theatre and the singing was phenomenal. I just wished we sat closer to the stage to see the facial expressions more clearly!

I appreciated the authenticity of the performance and careful consideration of the script (Dean Bryant) making it a one-woman show with a difference. Whether you are a theatre nerd, drama kid or a fan of comedy then you must come and see Christie Whelan Browne: Show People.

A thoroughly enjoyable night with props to the wonderful team, Mathew and Christie. Sending love from a fellow drama student, actor and mum of a toddler – Cynthia x

Image Credit: Jacquie Manning


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