Julia Hales is probably the most dedicated Home and Away fan you’ll likely meet. She’s watched every episode since it’s first airing in 1988 and her breadth of knowledge is boundless. This she relishes in her autographical piece ‘You Know We Belong Together’.
Like all of us Julia Hales has dreams. And with the depth of experience this actress has accomplished in her 37 years you’d think that they had been realised. But Julia has two more to fulfil…. Fall in love by the time she is 40, and to act in Home and Away.
From the beginning there is a genuine warmth about Julia that simply invites you into her beautiful life. A
journey that has seen struggle, heartache but also a life of immense joy and love. And it is through these experiences that we are welcomed, with open arms, not just by Julia but her huge circle of wildly talented friends.
What is so special about this production is that it is honest, thoughtful storytelling, that allows us somewhere that we very rarely get to see….. because Julia and her friends all have Down Syndrome.
But this is not just a piece on the trials of living with Down syndrome….this is a celebration of life’s achievements. Set in the Home and Away diner, we are taken on a life journey through interviews, old photos, dance, awesome audience participation and even some palm reading thrown in. Through this we meet some outstanding and hilarious individuals, who share with us their deepest thoughts and experiences on life, love, ability and equality. It is wickedly funny, incredibly thought provoking and agonisingly poignant.
All the performers do a wonderful job in bringing this highly entertaining piece to a hugely appreciative and receptive crowd. But it is the strength of Julia that strings the narrative together. There is a genuine connection that Julia has when speaking to the audience, something that can be so very difficult to achieve. There were a couple of ‘heart in mouth’ moments as what seemingly felt like a loss of direction, but Julia admirably pulls out all the stops and gets the momentum back on track.
A special mention too to one of the stage management team for the evening, on stage throughout, acting as diner staff, silently keeping the show on target. Fantastic unobtrusive stage management. Couple this with great production values, the videography and film making are very well done and delicate, thoughtful direction from Clare Watson and you leave this production beaming from the joy on that stage.
I really hope that this piece has the opportunity for another season as it really is a wonderful heartwarming show, bursting with talent by individuals who love to perform.
Home and Away would be onto a winner offering Julia a role and here’s hoping one day they do!
Lead Artist: Julia Hales
Performers: Tina Fielding, Patrick Carter, Joshua Bott & Lauren Marchbank
Director: Clare Watson
Writer/ Associate Director: Finn O’Branagain
Set and Costume Designer: Tyler Hill
Lighting Designer: Joe Lui
Sound Designer: Rachael Dease
Movement Director / ASM: Laura Boynes
Video Designer: Michael Carmody
Dramaturg: Deborah May
Film Maker: Lincoln Mackinnon
Stage Manager: Jessica Rogerson
Producer Manager: Stewart Campbell
Associate Producer DADAA: Simone Flavelle
Producer Perth Festival: Anna Reece