REVIEW: Stay at Home, Kasey Gambling – Melbourne Fringe

Have you ever felt trapped at home?

I know, it’s 2020. If you can work from home, you must work from home. There are only four reasons to leave your house. You can only leave for one hour a day for exercise. No one can visit.

But have you ever felt really trapped at home? And scared? Unable to leave.

Four years ago, theatre-maker Kasey Gambling created an immersive audio experience for a single audience member on the streets of North Melbourne called The Maze. It’s still one of the most memorable pieces of art I have ever experienced, headphones in and following a woman on the street.

Wearing headphones on the street can get you killed. At home, they should be a form of escape – listen to music, listen to podcasts, phone a friend.

And yet, Kasey’s new show, Stay at Home, isn’t an escape. It’s another immersive audio experience, but this time you’re not following a woman, you’re in her shoes. But this is your house. How well do you know your own house? You’d think, after lockdown, we’d know our homes well.

But is the kitchen clean? Are you looking okay? Is the cupboard well stocked? Do you have enough toilet paper? Where are the poisons? How quickly can you get outside to attract attention? Can you lock yourself in your bathroom?

It turns out I can use my ironing board to wedge my bathroom door closed. I never knew that before.

Stay at Home is a story of domestic violence, where staying at home isn’t just saving you from COVID, it’s potentially putting you in more danger. And just like The Maze, it leaves you alone at the end, unable to debrief; a story to tell and no one to tell it to.

Theatre is a lot of things. Until now, it has never left me staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, contemplating my own strength. And thinking about all those whose homes are not a haven, but hell.

Stay at Home is on today and next Friday and Saturday. Be careful, though. It's a tough one.