Review by Emily Smith
Garrick Theatre’s new show, in its Australian premiere, is a jocose look at two seemingly disparate trends that have proliferated through social media in recent years: true crime podcasts and MLM pyramid schemes. Two women on opposite sides of middle America have dedicated their livelihoods to these pursuits, and at least one of them finds that a killing spree is the perfect accompaniment to her side hustle, in MLM is for Murder, or, Your Side Hustle Is Killing Us.
The very nifty rotating back wall of the Garrick Theatre stage allows the set to flip quickly between Felicity’s inventory-strewn spare room in the family home, and the cramped apartment-come-recording studio of Minerva and her academic wife, Sienna. This intertwining of their living spaces reflects the fateful tangling of their lives as they both break the bounds of societal expectations to pursue success.
John Bavoso’s dialogue is funny and full of classic lines that anyone who has received that “hey girl!!!” message from an MLM-entwined acquaintance will recognise all too well. The propaganda Felicity spouts about the “sisterhood” and “part-time work for a full-time wage” is the same eye-roll-inducing drivel I scroll past on social media every day, and her journey to recognising its insincerity is immensely satisfying. Director Rodney Stockells-Palmer shows his experience within pyramid schemes by sympathetically portraying the flashy, live-your-dreams marketing that anyone could fall for.
Carly Ranger as Felicity is perfectly frustrating in her touting of the ‘Linen and Fate’ dogma and captures the insecure but proud housewife well enough that I was torn between wanting to throttle her and wanting to hug her. Her scenes with Liam Smith as Jason the supportive yet sceptical husband are touching in their realism, the dance of arguing with a partner who you love but are angry with something I’m sure all in the theatre recognised.
Ali McNamara gives a great performance as Minerva the true crime podcaster, her umbrage at being told her “hobby” isn’t a real job is amusingly familiar, and her rants about serial killers being fascinating had me raising my eyebrows at the true crime fanatic I brought as my date, who nodded along fervently.
The programme doesn’t credit a costume designer so I’m assuming it was a team effort to give each character clothing that perfectly conveys their situation in life and their attitude to it. I also love the touch of giving Minerva podcast branded t-shirts, I wonder where I could get myself some Ladykiller merch.
MLM is for Murder by the Garrick Theatre Club is a charmingly funny look at the crazes that drive us crazy, and how far we’ll go to make them work.