Review: The Girlie Show (Tunks Productions / The Old 505 Theatre)

tunksVenue: The Old 505 Theatre (Newtown NSW), Feb 18 – 22, 2014
Playwright: Wayne Tunks
Director: Wayne Tunks
Cast: Campbell Briggs, Thomas G Burt, Adam Carr, Mat Glessing, Prudence Holloway, Chantel Leseberg, Jack Marsden, Jacinta Moses, Tasha O’Brien, Billie Scott, Wayne Tunks
Image by Isobel Markus-Dunworth

Theatre review
The play takes place in the early 90’s, following the coming-of-age stories of five young Sydneysiders. It all begins when they meet at the front of a queue for tickets to a Madonna concert, and united by their common passion for the pop star, the group becomes fast friends. We then trace each individual’s growth in the few months leading up to the event, and witness them overcoming challenges, supported by the new-found friendships, and the strength of character inspired by their fearless leader (the “creamy smooth pop icon goddess”, Madonna). This sounds tongue-in-cheek, but Wayne Tunks’ The Girlie Show is an earnest tribute with a somewhat middle-of-the-road approach; not cool enough, but not cheesey enough either. Its familiar narratives feel authentic, and although put together with little sophistication, the production’s honest sentimentality does provide moments of poignancy.

The show is kept buoyant by strong performances from the likes of Billie Scott, energetic but with a dorky style of humour that works well within its context of zealous fandom. Along with effective comic timing, Scott’s ability to portray genuine emotionality brings a charming pathos to some of the more melodramatic scenes. Also memorable is Jacinta Moses in a range of maternal roles, simultaneously sensitive and strong, Moses is powerful in her scenes, showcasing excellent conviction and versatility.

Most of the play is about the gay and lesbian coming out experience, and harks back to a time when stories of this nature were prevalent and indeed, all the rage. The Girlie Show takes on that tradition, and even though it does not extend beyond the predictable scope of the genre, there is little doubt that there remains a need for these narratives to be made. In looking back at our youth, we can find the purity that is perhaps lost from today, and it is that purity that must be recalled in order that we may live in compassion, if we allow it to thaw out what was scared and cold.