By Jerome Studdy
“Hi! What’s your name?”
For many of us, the art of dodging charity peddlers in the street is a craft we have been honing every time we walk into the city. Upon entering The Limelight Room at Limelight on Oxford, you’ll have to be particularly fleet of foot to dodge “just a quick chat” with the staff of Earth’s Children, as the cast of ‘How To Change The World and Make Bank Doing It’ set the scene for a funny and thought-provoking piece of theatre. The new Australian play, presented by Ian Warwick and Michael Becker, takes one of modern society’s greatest fears, negotiating the awkward interactions with people raising funds for charity, and uses it as a powerful mechanism for discussing xenophobia, climate change, the human condition, manipulation, and of course, charity.
Warwick and Becker’s script presents an episodic series of interactions captured in wonderful and challenging vignettes. As we follow the characters working for Earth’s Children, we see their fleeting moments of successful and unsuccessful interaction with people passing in the mall, and more importantly, their often conflicting collegial interactions. At the onset, it seems as though the show could be just a series of comic events where characters walk past and either accept or reject the conversation, but through a very clever weaving of plot, we’re forced to realise that these charity workers are people too; they have their own agendas, their own fears, their own flaws. Warwick and Becker have crafted a delightful piece of theatre that successfully manages comedy, tension, mundane silence, muzak, and a frequent lack of resolution to present something which is incredibly human.
The eight strong cast are excellent in their various permutations and develop believable power struggles and tensions. With several fumbled lines, and occasionally poor pacing, there are some moments in the show which still require a bit of polish, however, the arc and structure of the piece is well maintained and seldom slumps. Skye Beker as Chloe plays the smiling assassin with incredible control of malice, charm, and disregard. She embodies the two-faced nature of manipulative monetary charity with excellent body language and speech colouring. Barbara Papathanasopoulos as Eve and Dominique Purdue as Lucia are delightful and spiteful by turns and work well on-stage as a disjunct pair. Papathanasopoulos’s Eve is relatable in her pen-clicking anxiety and distressed stares, heightened by a no-nonsense approach to character. In contrast, Purdue’s Lucia is fiery and passionate and problematic as she pushes the line of comfort, a direct result of Purdue’s great ability to build emotional rage. Susan Jordan, Laneikka Denne, Jarryd Dobson, and Dashiell Wyndham (a total crowd pleaser, only in Year 3!) play the cacophony of other characters who pass by the Earth’s Children stand. Each of them are to be commended for their ability to not only quick-change costume, but also leap between accents, physicalities, emotions, and belief systems. Dobson is particularly wonderful to watch in his exaggerated physical portrayal of Nico. Rounding out the cast is co-writer, director, co-producer Becker himself as he plays the charity supervisor Marcus. His performance is awkward, stiff, and completely wonderful. He neatly captures a supervisory character who is caught between his professional and personal self.
Overall, it is a wonderful glimpse into a reality that we so often try to dehumanise to make ourselves feel better for turning a blind eye. It’s a wonderfully witty and relevant piece of unavoidably Australian theatre. They’re playing until April 27 and tickets are less than what you’d spend on coffee in a week. So, with that in mind, “Let’s get you signed up!”
Photo Credit: Sam Lax
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.