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Review: Fiona O'Loughlin Addresses the Nation at the Athenaeum Theatre

By Taylor Kendal

For almost 20 years, Fiona O’Loughlin has been a national treasure of the Australian comedy scene, and it is without a doubt safe to say that she has had one hell of a ride. Best known for her humor infused self-deprecating wit and her routines built on the highs and absolute low lows of her life, Fiona is not known having much shame or ability to hold back when it comes to her performances, and this show is no different.

Taking a different direction from her sort of trademark routine, where the focus is primarily on her past drinking problem, where she unabashedly bares all, her latest show Fiona O’Loughlin Addresses the Nation, takes the spotlight away from Fiona, and branches out a little more, focusing on the topic of generations past, present and future, and how stories from her real life can be interwoven with such hilarity, they seem too absurd to be true while at the same time being so strangely relatable in one way or another.

Fiona is a baby boomer, and brings realisation to the fact that that particular generation, is now the ones in charge, much to her horror. It’s with this realisation that she attempts to solve the world’s problems in one hour. It’s ambitious, yes, but it ultimately provides an escape from problems, for an hour at least.

Throughout this hour, a wide variety of topics are handled, all delivered with some form of real life attachment. There is a focus on Fiona’s childhood; a self titled catholic with no faith who just ‘didn’t get it’(and makes the comparison that the religion itself is a bit like Monty Python), talks of life growing up in a large family with ‘controlling parents’, which were common of that generation, and promised herself that she would never be that kind of mother – which the audience quickly learns she definitely kept her promise.

She delivers personal anecdotes with a finesse and natural ease. From stories of her sister and her nine children, her brother-in-law’s antics after being stung by a bee at the cricket, how her husband’s desire to get her out of the house introduced her to the politics of country netball, or how her relationships with her five children (including her favourite), are so unabashedly honest, audiences are left completely engaged, somehow managing to relate back to their own lives. Though her routine is not without throwbacks to her battle with alcoholism; something that she is not shy about and has been the fodder for most of her recent professional career.

Fiona has a natural presence on stage, making it seem like an insane chat amongst friends, rather than a rehearsed routine. She is not at all shy about laughing at herself or be the butt of the joke; often breaking mid punch line to have a cackle with the audience, which honestly is quite natural and refreshing to be part of.

If I can be quite honest, there is not enough time to write out just how worth a trip to the Athenaeum theatre is to see this show. I cannot even begin to do justice to her humor and I will scarcely try to do so. Fiona O’Loughlin is a force to be reckoned with, and one that at times, has to be seen to be believed, so don’t miss out!

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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