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Review: The State at The Blue Room Theatre

Review by: Tatum Stafford

Originally devised for The Blue Room’s annual ‘600 Seconds’ season, ‘The State’ is a provocative piece of theatre written by Marli Jupiter (who also directs) and Rhi Bryan. 

The show opens with a bombastic introduction to the ‘Daddies’ of the country’s four states in this world: This Daddy (Lucy Wong), That Daddy (Rhi Bryan), Which Daddy (Mazey O’Reilly) and What Daddy (Jo Cooper). Each Daddy solemnly serves and competes for love and affection from the collective Mummy (Bronte Frances). 

As the show progresses, the audience are exposed to the darker sides of this dystopian reality. We meet our protagonist, Flung About (played by multiple performers throughout the piece), who is travelling through the states following the death of their mother in a state hospital due to inefficiencies within the healthcare system. The story continues to examine timely societal issues, like mining and resourcing inefficiencies, and distrust in politicians within the media cycle. 

The most striking element of the piece is its design, through costume, puppetry, masks, and lighting. Leisl Lucerne-Knight takes the reigns as the show’s Set/Costume/Puppet Designer, and should be highly commended for such elaborate pieces that added another dimension to the show. Shout-out also to Lara Pollard’s composition, which provided an interesting atmosphere, and Nat Mijat’s effective lighting design. 

The performers are also exceptional, and captivate as they whirl through a rolodex of countless characters (I stopped counting when it hit two dozen, but am sure it’s more). Mazey O’Reilly was a standout, offering interesting physical movement and choices that helped catapult her characters to life under heavy costume and puppetry elements. I also really enjoyed Bronte Frances’ portrayal of Mummy, complete with the show’s largest puppet and a sinister voice that pierced through the story. The four Daddies displayed excellent chemistry and powered through technical dialogue with impressive precision. 

A few days prior to attending, audiences were notified that the performance length would be increased to 120 minutes, and include an interval. I would have enjoyed seeing the show within its original, one-act concept, as its story did veer into a wide range of directions (with some lacking conclusion) and it sought to cover a lot of ground across its two acts. Some refining of the core themes and character relationships could benefit the overall piece and sharpen its message. 

The show is definitely a visual spectacle, and it was a treat to see so many intricate puppet pieces and talented performers manoeuvring them. An interesting show that politically-minded theatregoers will take something away from. 

Image Supplied


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