REVIEW: Liz and Mil Walk into a Bar – Midsumma

Liz has just broken up with her girlfriend and Mil’s answer to everything is to go to a club or have sex with strangers. Sometimes both. At once. Liz isn’t really into any of that but she gets dragged along by Mil’s wild bisexual energy, shy about being perceived as too vanilla. Liz has only had sex in a bed and doesn’t own a vibrator. Mil doesn’t understand any of that.

Liz and Mil is written by real-life friends Liz and Mil; they are Elizabeth Everett and Amelia Newman, if you were to full-name them. But then you might sound like Liz’s dad and you wouldn’t want that.

Liz and Mil are played by Stephanie Clark and Sarah Hartnell, who are a real-life couple. I don’t know how well Steph and Sarah know the real Liz and Mil but Sarah found Mil’s energy for sure. Mil’s brain works at a hundred miles an hour and their previous writing has always exposed truths about youth and humanity but not always in an easy-to-digest way.

This is Liz’s first time writing but together Liz and Mil have bonded and brought forth a semi-autobiographical show that is loads of fun but doesn’t shy away from the difficulty of friendship. Especially queer friendship, where straights assume you might hook up with each other at any moment – or you worry that your friend might hook up with your ex because they lack boundaries.

Liz and Mil Go to a Club! Liz and Mil buy the morning after pill! Liz and Mil try Different Remedies for Anxiety! Liz and Mil talk directly to the audience and put the fear of audience participation in me! (Spoiler: there’s no audience participation. Unless you know Liz and Mil, and then you might have more moments of recognition than the person sitting next to you.)

I love a show that’s so specific that it’s relatable. I love a show that feels messy but is actually tightly constructed. Steph and Sarah have great chemistry, which is weird to say about a real-life couple, but they made me really feel for the tumultuous days that Liz and Mil go through together. 

Sarah is a bundle of energy throughout the show, but knows when to hold back and play a solid dramatic moment. Mil might exude confidence but Sarah uncovers their vulnerabilities in beautifully subtle ways. Stephanie grounds Liz's anxiety and panic attacks, making sure that we feel her pain even through a flurry of jokes. 

Jokes about sex toys, tops and bottoms, virginity, and sex in the outdoors are sometimes used for the easiest of laughs. In this show, they feel integral to the characters – and so very enlightening about Gen Z and queer notions of love and friendship and gender and sexuality.

Liz and Mil and the actors playing Liz and Mil have done a brilliant job exposing their lives, even if some of it is fictional fiction. But sometimes inside the fabulous lie, the truth comes out.

Liz and Mil Walk into a Bar is not a joke, but a wildly chaotic exploration of platonic love between queer friends. And it's fucking funny! Friendship isn’t always easy but when you put in the hard work and listen, it’s always worth it.

- Keith Gow, Theatre First

See Liz and Mil Walk into a Bar at The Butterfly Club as part of Midsumma until January 28th.