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Staged in the intimate Studio space at the Blue Room Theatre, “Unrule” is presented by Hey Precious with Creator/Director Michelle Aitken in collaboration with the performers, Rhiannon Petersen, Alicia Osyka, Chelsea Gibson and Mani Mae Gomes. 

An interesting and multi levelled set greets us on entering. It’s a bathroom of sorts: tiled wall, shower, bath, as expected – and unexpectedly decorated withfemale hygiene products and wigs. Intriguing!

The performance begins with a monologue by Alicia Osyka, presumably addressing her doctor, about her menstrual period, with dismissive responses from a Greek style chorus by the other performers. This is followed by a series of scenes of absurdity using the aforementioned hygiene products, wigs and an ever increasing array of props and costumes. This continued throughout the performance. 

At last we got to the point. In a total blackout we hear voiceovers of women talking about their various gynaecological problems, and the issues they had with the medical practitioners who they relied on to help them. This was interesting and informative but I question the decision to convey it in this manner. I would have preferred to hear these women speak live, as was done toward the end of the performance by Chelsea Gibson who delivered a frank and moving monologue; a singular highlight of this production.

At 75 minutes duration, the production was too long. As a collaboration, it materialises as a series of random ideas thrown into the mix which are loosely based on the theme. Judicious cutting of some of the scenes would tighten the performance itself and provide more pace from one scene to another. Moreover, I had trouble hearing a lot of the dialogue. The Studio is a small space, nevertheless voice projection and enunciation is still required. The random use of a microphone was curious in this small venue but turned out to be helpful.However, this was followed by a high volume rock beat with the performers speaking over it making the dialogue inaudible.

I commend the creators for tackling a difficult theme,though it doesn’t hit its mark. With a tighter narrative and performances it may do so. 

“Unrule” is showing at the Blue Theatre Studio until 15 June. 

Bookings at https://blueroom.org.au/events/unrule/ or call 9227 7005.

Photos: Susie Blatchford from Pixel Poetry.

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