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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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
Chase is strong, thoughtful and full of
eccentricity. A bold examination of a world gone mad.
- Keith Gow, Theatre First
Photos by Jacinta Keefe