REVIEW: A Daylight Connection Double-Bill – Malthouse Theatre

Three people walk into a therapist’s office. They are seated. They are asked to take a deep breath. They are told this is the start of a journey. They are given affirmations to repeat and exercises to do. The therapist is here to guide them through.

But they are already suspicious of the lighting and the design and the artefacts of other cultures in the room. They bristle at the stolen wisdom on posters and the cultural cringe of white people aligning themselves with Buddhism or tattooing themselves with a Chinese character they think means crisis and opportunity.

Three First Nations people of this stolen land are funnelled into a Western patriarchal psychotherapy that is driven to find the source of trauma, trying to find the conception of it.

Whose Gonna Love ‘Em? I am that I am is a striking meditation on the kind of intergenerational trauma that comes with centuries of mistreatment by a society that not so long ago didn’t treat our Indigenous population as human, let alone treatable for psychological scarring.

Writer Kamarra Bell-Wykes’ text is rough and confronting poetry combined with her direction that is lyrical, comic and at times assaulting in its physicality. One moment the three actors are in a pose making fun of white Aussies enjoying a cheap South East Asian holiday. The next, they are writhing on the floor, unable to break free of the ongoing suffering they live with in a system that cannot hope to reckon with family trauma, societal trauma and psychic trauma – all woven together tightly in their bodies. From head to toe. From mind to voice.

No wonder they glitch and glitch and glitch when they try to articulate why the healthcare system betrays them more than it helps.

The trio of performers – Maurial Spearim, Corey Saylor-Brunskill, Maggie Church-Kopp – work is vocal and physical harmony throughout. They are in a visual and aural dance, underscored by beautiful moving music composed and played by small sound.

This is a tough hour that builds in its repetition to a finale that is somehow – surprisingly – hopeful. Because sometimes trauma can be used for good. And once you’ve been through a thing that doesn’t work, you can turn your attention to something that might.

The light at the end of the tunnel could be anything. Don’t convince yourself it’s a train.


At the end of the world, Chase has built a home out of found objects. It’s a ramshackle place filled with a couch, an altar, some exercise equipment and a land-line phone – though she has been without a “line” and her “land” for a long time now. She’s built a bed where she can have four hours of night-terrors each night – and enough space underneath for her inner-child to curl up and die.

Chase, co-devised by performer Carly Sheppard and director Bell-Wykes, is – despite the bleak set-up – often hilariously funny. Chase narrates the show as if she’s still hosting Clap Chasey on her YouTube channel. Please, please, please like and subscribe.

She has three friends in her life. Sally, type-A personality, practical and sure that humanity has fucked itself for good. Influenza, an internet influencer, whose rapid-fire speech is overwhelming, borne out of trying to keep people watching her Insta reels. And, finally, Traditional Girl, who is spiritual, conducts ceremonies – and has a crow living in her hair.

These characters are all depicted through dolls that Sheppard carries around with her, and sometimes gathered - as if in a council of advisors - on a wooden slab balanced on a milk crate that is Chase’s living room table.

Much like the first play in this double-bill, produced by theatre company A Daylight Connection (Bell-Wykes, Sheppard and small sound), this is a show about trauma and trying to make a life in a wasteland ruined by Western civilization. Chase is more specifically post-Apocalyptic, though with its barrage of cultural references, it’s clear that Chase was confused about what and who to follow even when the phones still worked and she didn’t have to eat cockroaches. (Even if she does have a great recipe for them! Like and subscribe for details!)

Sheppard has been working with the character of Chase for a decade and this play is a culmination of her history with a character who isn’t really sure who she is – even if she’s confident enough to give her subscribers tantalising advice. It’s a rich concept, for sure, and the production is a mix of monologue and music and movement that swings wildly from pointed satire to an evocative physicality that really brings a sense of loss and grief to the fore.

Is there hope for Chase at the end of the world? She has made the best of her situation for sure. You can see her resilience, even if she’s just talking and shouting and singing to herself. With the occasional cameo by Satan himself.

For this show, collaborator small sound has designed music, sound design and the set, which is intricate and layered and creates a fascinating space for Chase to inhabit. Videographer Devika Bilimoria’s work is laid over the top and enhances this world in a myriad of ways. We get glimpses of Chase’s old life, the devastations that has led the world here and peeks into the many places Chase has looked to find truth and advice and more subscribers.

The audience is in great hands here because the experience is visceral and amusing; tough and insightful. And though I walked out unable to soon articulate how I felt about where we left Chase and what it all meant, it’s a piece I’ll be thinking about for a long time. Because I felt a lot of feelings and sometimes discovering gems in place you cannot describe is satisfying in a way you never expected.

Chase is strong, thoughtful and full of eccentricity. A bold examination of a world gone mad.

- Keith Gow, Theatre First

A Daylight Connection’s Double Bill - Whose Gonna Love ‘Em? I am that I am and Chase - is on at Malthouse until December 3

Photos by Jacinta Keefe