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Review: Full Cream at Trades Hall (Corner Store) - Melbourne Fringe

Review by Greta Doell

Full Cream is an uplifting new play celebrating fat relationships and pride.

The team behind it, Em Keagan (she/her), Ryan Hamilton (he/they), Georgie Wolfe (she/her), & Jonathan Graffam-O'Meara (he/him), have created a work that combines verbatim text, devised theatre, voice over recordings and a mukbang to tell the story of two fat housemates navigating dating, identity and living their best lives in their 20s. The team has done an amazing job at inviting audiences into their experiences with humour that never has anyone as the butt of the joke. But this show is seriously funny, as it explores modern dating and fat love through a joyful lens.

Performed by its devisors Em Keagan and Ryan Hamilton, the pair take the audience through various monologues and vignettes of reflection. We are treated to fabulous musical numbers, pre-date hype sessions, feasts of self-care, and quiet debriefs on the couch.

It is unapologetic, yet peaceful as Em and Ryan hilariously detail the Chasers that make them consider what they're looking for in the unpredictable dating world. They are endearing characters with hilarious anecdotes, and the audience is welcomed into their world. They are honest, yet hopeful, and the uniqueness of their experiences makes this work feel so refreshing.

With only a small Fringe stage to work on, the staging is simple yet effective. Keagan and Hamilton share the stage with various small props, often snacks, and voluptuous white beanbags that evoke imagery dramaturgically woven throughout the show. In a production that's already so intimate and inclusive, the performers strike a nice balance between using the stage and performing around the audience, so neither feel crowded. There is also a projection screen at the back of the stage that effectively compliments contemplative moments with the occasional image or comedic PowerPoint (a medium the creators have already innovated with in the past, if you follow their work.) Cheerful pop music and reflective instrumental tracks in the sound design make up the soundtrack of Em and Ryan's world, and simple coloured lighting ensures that transitions into different moments aren't jarring.

Keagan and Hamilton are very talented performers, seamlessly guiding the audience through heartfelt moments with flawless pacing. It is clear the work isn't so much a labour, but a creation of love, with the real-life friendship of the cast shining through their on-stage coordination and verbatim dialogue. The pair have an experienced ease on stage together, which makes the few sombre moments in the show all the more authentic. There are no forced tears, yet their sincerity is palpable. As well as being well acted, Full Cream is extremely well-written. The characters are fully formed, as we learn how their upbringings have shaped them and led them to the healing friendship dynamic they have today. We the audience cheer them on, whooping as they dance and sing. Their reflections on romantic love and being desired are captivating and moving. As the pair compare anecdotes, their conversation topics are refreshing but sadly not common discussions that one often sees on stage or on screen. The characters are resilient, sharing their excited dreams for the future, musing on a world where this play isn't considered boundary-pushing, but is just "a boring play about two friends" talking about themselves. When so much of the media we consume reminds us of the fears and insecurities we're all already wrestling with every day, Full Cream is the play everyone needs to see. Art like this is important. It challenges stigma yet is welcoming. Art that is hopeful and reassuring. Yet, art about fat people is sadly not seen enough. This company (that also makes apparel for people of all sizes, as it turns out) is changing that. If you miss it at Fringe, Full Cream is also part of the Melbourne Fringe Encore program at Geelong Arts Centre with an encore session on Fri 27 Oct.

Image Supplied


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