By Kristen Iliopoulos

The Melbourne Fringe has gone digital for 2020, while simultaneously taking us back to the 1980s for ‘What Would John Hughes Do?’, the new one-woman punk cabaret by Telia Nevile, exploring the intersection between pop culture and life expectations.

Nevile, who wrote the show and performs vibrantly throughout, details an array of relatable experiences; from being essentially raised by American teen movies and their ability to create an assumption that one’s own life will follow that formula of the outsider finding their happy ending, to the qualms of being an artist while wrestling the self-destructive voices in our heads that tell us we are not worthy of praise or an audience. These soliloquies mostly weave beautifully throughout the show, as Nevile’s vulnerability shines ahead to some resonate but cheeky short musical numbers; the strongest of which details Nevile’s love for bingeing screen content with an almost 1970s anarcho-punk energy.

One can’t imagine this online format is easy to navigate for performers and technical crew, but the sound quality still remained impressive, although some vocal effects on the musical numbers could have added another dimension to the punk sonics. The direction change to the present moment, as Nevile discusses the 2020 pandemic loses some momentum, or perhaps just waking up from the dreamlike state of these pop culture fantasies back into the real world jolted some personal discomfort.

Alas, the realities for the theatre may be as such for a while; the online festival, and the virtual performance. Nevertheless, this brought around a whole new experience of Melbourne Fringe, so for now, we’ll have to live as Nevile laments: “Eat, work, sleep, repeat.”