Almost a review: Lists of Invisible Things

by Jane

A list of some things I like:

  • Australian accents
  • Songs sung in Australian accents
  • New writing
  • New Australian writing
  • New Australian musical theatre writing
  • Female singer/writer/actors
  • Young female singer/writer/actors
  • Glitter
  • The thought “Why?”
  • The thought that if my favourite colour is purple and your favourite colour is green, but I don’t see the same green as you, and when you see green you’re actually seeing what I call purple then aren’t we seeing the same colour and so then isn’t our favourite colour the same?!
  • The fact that, while this seemed like great logic when I was 12, I have a science degree and can tell you why it’s wrong.
  • Disco Ball lights
  • Intertwining stories
  • Making intertwining stories add up
  • Small shows, small stories
  • Being afloat, aloft.
  • Short hair
  • Review writers who don’t use silly tricks like writing a list
  • Using tiredness as an excuse for calling something a review when it isn’t really a review at all
  • Trying to make sense of it all
  • The idea that maybe you should see this show before you read this review
  • The idea that you should see this show

Emerging Melbourne artist Caity Fowler has penned and stars in this small and simple one-woman musical, playing in the small down-stairs Gallery at Nexus.  Her Alice moves afloat and aloft, 14-years-old, and dead.  But, the word dead tastes too hard.  Perhaps it would be better to say she has moved on, into a place where sounds have colours and words have tastes.  A place where when a thought gets so big you can’t possibly hold it in your brain, it can fit in a jar – a big jar – and then be kept safe to think about.

It’s a young play.  It’s written by a young person, and I suspect from my date-of-the-night’s response, it’s a play for young people.  I like this.  I like this.  I like this feeling that this is a little play which was crafted for me. (I like the fact that I wrote I like this three times in a row and didn’t pick it up until I proof read.)

In Alice’s world, music is orange and blue and purple.  And Fowler’s composition does seem to travel this spectrum.   Songs about fights between mothers and daughters, about love between husbands and wives, about teenage crushes and teenage thoughts, about trying to make sense of something senseless. Her full and round Australian accented singing voice wraps around words and ideas and lives.

In Alice, Fowler is looking back, and in Alice’s mother and aunt, she is looking forward to the line women travel as they grow older.   While she sometimes leans too much on stage on differentiating characters through differentiating voices, I am still, at 22, close enough to 14 to see myself at that age in that character: in fights and in bargaining; I’m close enough to my 14-year-old self that I know that that is how I would play my mother.  While sometimes trying to figure out who everyone was and everyone is can be confusing, the puzzle makes it all the more fun.  While sometimes the songs don’t flow enough from or into the scenes… I don’t care.

It’s not polished.  You can often see the marks where it joins, the gaps where it doesn’t stick, the places which were built over.  But I don’t think it’s trying to be polished (and that makes a good excuse for this review not being polished).   This is not only a brand new play; it’s a brand new Australian musical, written by a young and talented young woman.  And I have a huge soft spot for all of those things. I don’t think it needs to be polished.  Or rather, I can’t be the one to say how it needs to be worked on.  I would love to see it polished, and worked on, and grow.  But, just to see it the way that it was – a tiny play in a tiny theatre about questions and thoughts so big they need to be kept in jars – was magical.

SCRATCH Theatre presents Lists of Invisible Things written and performed Caity Fowler.  Directed by Sally Bourne,  Assistant Director Emma Clair Ford, Musical Director by Jen Kingwell, with band members Jen Kingwell and Pip Fowler.  At Nexus Gallery, 6pm until Feb 25.  More information and tickets.