By Carissa Shale

***.5 STARS

 Presented by Paines Plough and Critical Stages Touring Australia, ‘Come to Where I Am – Australia, Part Four’, is the fourth and final instalment of an innovative digital project which was created in response to the closure of theatre during COVID-19.

 As a spin-off of their flagship project, ‘Come to Where I’m From’, this one hour digital performance invites you into the lives of four Australian artists as they share an intimate snapshot of the place where they live right now.

This collection of unique video postcards shares metropolitan, regional and rural experiences from four vastly different parts of Australia, with each one guiding you on a complete journey into the lives and environments of these Australian artists.

Merlynn Tong transports you to Turrbal and Chepara-Yugarapul country in Brisbane during her performance of ‘Time Capsule: Meanjin’. This beautifully written video-diary captures Tong’s experience during the first eight months of 2020. From the catastrophic bushfires in January, to the shock of lockdown in April, and the solidarity of the Black Lives Matter protest in July, this intimate recount takes you on a journey through the turbulent year that has been. Tong’s exceptionally well-written script feels raw and intimate, almost as if you are taking a glimpse into the pages of own her personal journal. The experiences she shares are easy to relate to, and remind us of the unique journey this year has taken us on. At times, Tong’s performance felt slightly over-acted, but the moments when she pulled it back and simply spoke from the heart were wonderfully captivating.

Leaving the sunny weather of Queensland, you are transported to the rainy days of Victoria as Ross Mueller invites you to Wadawurrung country in Geelong. ‘We are Geelong’ is an ode to a community and their beloved sport. Mueller’s performance captures unique local environments through moody videography and calming soundscapes, as he shares his love of the game and his unique insight into life in Geelong. While you see only a glimpse of Mueller at the start of his performance, he connects earnestly with the camera, and uses an expressive voice throughout to share his engaging tale.

Mary Anne Butlers conversational performance of ‘Dingo’ set in Larrakia country, Darwin, feels like you are sitting around the campfire with a friend sharing stories. Her intimate performance is raw and vulnerable as she takes the audience on a journey of love, loss, and self-discovery in front of the stunning backdrop of the Australian bush. However, at points it was evident that Butler was reading from a script which detracted from the performances relaxed and conversational manner.

The final performance ‘Another day in the colony’, was shared by Ian Michael from Whadjuk Noongar country in Perth. This emotionally charged performance gave a voice to the anguish felt by Indigenous Australians. This extremely captivating performance will give you chills as your heart aches for the injustices our first nations people have faced, and continue to face in their daily lives. When Michael made eye contact with the camera, you could truly feel the connection and emotion beaming through the screen, however, these moments were sometimes lost as he focused on reading his script.

‘Come to Where I Am – Australia, Part Four’ is a beautifully emotional journey throughout the different corners of Australia, sharing beautiful writing and stories. Despite some hiccups, this digital production is well worth a watch, and will leave you in a state of awe.

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