Review by Taylor Kendal
Everybody thinks their family is messed up in some way. Some have their little quirks, some are embarrassing but loveable, and others are just so insanely unhinged we cringe to think about it and strive to not let it take over our entire lives. From the mind of Australian artist Georgia Politakis comes Hey, You; a one woman performance about a dark family secret, and the lengths reached to ensure that it doesn’t come to hurt anyone anymore.
Right off the bat, audiences meet with Marina, who greets us with a shy, rather awkward hello. With no introduction and no overture, just a self-proclaimed awkward introduction, Marina tells us that she’s here to tell us a story - the most boring story you’re ever going to hear ever. Though it seems as though Marina’s view is a tad skewed, because what ensures next is anything but boring. Enter the chaos of her dead sister, said sister’s abusive ex-boyfriend, and an upcoming wedding that is sure to throw everyone’s life, especially Marina’s into utter chaos.
Big trigger warning at this point. This show, while only running for just over half an hour, deals with some incredibly serious and heavy topics, such as talks of abuse, domestic/family violence, suicide, misogyny, mental health issues, mentions and threats of sexual assault/violence and the looming threat of existential crises. Audience members that could find any of the above triggering, please be warned.
Hey, You serves as more of a monologue than a show, as such, and is quite clever in the way that it includes other characters, despite Politakis being the only one on stage. It is part storytelling, part internal search on the brink of an existential crisis, and part re-enacting the events that lead to her needing to tell her turn of events. Each ‘scene’ is broken up with a kind of title card, which does help in setting the scene and directing the progression of the story.
The character of Marina is one that is so painfully relatable in so many ways, whether one wants to admit such a thing or not. She is awkward, filled with rage and repression and so much regret over things in the past, and what’s happening in her life right now. She feels so out of control of things in her own life that sooner or later, something is going to snap. As the story progresses, we delve deeper into the events that lead to the story and throughout, which give us more of an insight into Marina’s character, which can be a lot at certain moments. Politakis does an incredible job at capturing the anxiety and awkwardness of the character and makes it into such a real, believable person.
With such a short running time, there is a lot packed into the performance. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that there is a lot of content to unpack, deal with and hopefully close during the performance. There are moments where the plot can seem a little muddled. Despite its sometimes-difficult subject matter, it seems as though there is difficulty in figuring out whether the lean is more towards comedy or tragedy in a sense. There are certainly elements of both, and while real life is not so black and white in such matters, the line does become a little blurred.
The premise of the story is great, that much has to be said. But I do think there could be a little more development. The bones are certainly there, but perhaps just a little more padding throughout and some clarity on some scenes that at times seem as though they are thrown in there suddenly, while others are simply mentioned and could do with some more expansion or explanation. Obviously not everything in real life can afford that kind of exposition, but I for one can’t help but wonder what more could come of it if it perhaps had a longer run time and delving into more of the elements that are already there.
Hey, You is a glimpse into a period of chaos where it can often seem like a nightmare; so many things just going from bad to worse. Moments can feel like a fever dream, while others are so painfully relatable, you can’t help but nodding your head thinking ‘I’ve been there’. Politakis has a great talent for conveying a physicality in her character; invoking the awkwardness and the soul-consuming dread at the way life turns and the absolute relatability in some of her actions. Overall a great performance that really did leave me wanting more.