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Review: Hello, Again at The Factory Theatre

Review By Laura Heuston

Hello, Again is a journey through time and the universal complexity of relationships. Spanning from the 1800s to the 1990s, we follow the path of a broach that travels between the archetypal characters until finally returning to its metaphorically original owner. The show is not obsessed with this prop however (an easy mistake to make) but the focus remains entirely on the stunningly talented ensemble, each of whom brings their own energy and subtly to roles that otherwise could have been without depth or passion.

Jerome Studdy has made his directorial debut with this production, and his work is truly admirable. Utilising his design experience, he has created a beautifully vintage world through his set and costume design, which suits the variety of time periods equally well. The beginning of the show is a challenge for the audience, as we are naturally wanting to give ourselves a solid setting and context to understand, however the costuming indicates that this is not what we are going to recieve. As the costumes (designed by Emily Fairbairn) and lighting (designed by Michael Goodyear) change, we realise that we are jumping forward in time, assisted by references to Fred Estaire and Ginger Rogers, the Titanic, and the seventies. The challenge of allowing the show to be vague but not confusing is a hard one, and Studdy has risen to it well, especially as the show progresses. His work as a choreographer was also delightful, however there were some moments when the ambition of the movement was a bit too much for the limited space.

For the sake of brevity, I cannot write a paragraph on every member of the ensemble. This is truly a tragedy, as this was an exceptionally talented group of performers and to choose the ones that stood out most was incredibly difficult. If you take nothing else from this review, know that you should see this show for the sheer breadth of young talent on display.

Denzel Bruhn was a delight as The College Boy, combining youthful inexperience and hilarious mama’s-boyness in his relationships with The Nurse (Anna-May Parnell) and The Wife (Grace Driscoll). His references to his mother at truly inappropriate times- think being tied up level inappropriate- lends the show a before unrealised element of comedy, and so alleviates the level of sexual and social tension established by the interactions between The Whore (Emelie Woods), The Soldier (Harrison Vaughan) and The Nurse.

Stacey Gay as The Actress and Kate O’Sullivan as The Senator are a wonderful coupling, and I must commend Hat Trick for representing gay relationships so consistently, tenderly and allowing these characters to have depth and characteristics beyond their sexuality. I do not know if the script only features heterosexual relationships, however if so I am tremendously glad for the recasting. I think it is pretty safe to assume that The Senator was originally played by a man, and I loved seeing O’Sullivan bring the new element of a powerful woman working through traditionally masculine problems. Her interaction with Woods was a wonderfully sad ending to the show, with the two glorious altos providing us with the deeply moving reprise of the title song. Gay is also sparkling in her rendition of “Mistress of the Senator”, despite struggling with throat issues which naturally weaken her vocal tone.

However the shining light of the entire performance is without question Grace Driscoll as The Wife. Her performance of “Tom” really brings the audience into the show, and massively boosted the energy of what was a slightly flat start (whether this was down to the actors or the audience’s need to adjust to the new format is impossible to say). Her interactions with Brendan McRae as The Husband are skin crawling in the best possible sense- the subtlety of both these performances are simply fantastic, and the insinuation of bisexuality in McRae’s character lends a new element of complexity to the relationship.

This is a beautifully done show, and though the pacing and energy is at times lacking, there can be no questioning the phenomenal amount of talent that has worked on this production. It is absolutely fantastic to see a group of young people banding together in independent theatre to create something so professional. I commend everyone involved, and would absolutely recommend making this show a part of your Mardi Gras celebrations.

Images Supplied

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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