Get your Violet Beauregarde on with this funny and tough one-woman play
A blueberry stands alone onstage.
See, Jono is throwing a party, and our Girl (Contessa Treffone) is excited-nervous to go. The theme is ‘childhood memories’ and she wants to look like Violet Beauregarde, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Only, of course, sluttier. Hence the blueberry.
She could really do with a party, and not just because Jono recently kissed her near the toilet blocks. Her home life has been complicated recently; her dad has bipolar and prostate cancer, and it can be a lot to deal with sometimes.
This is Blueberry Play, Ang Collins’ one-woman-show about the cusp of adolescence and adulthood, family, and chronic mental and physical illness. Sydney audiences might recognise the work from its earlier form – as part of ATYP’s monologue series Intersection in 2017 – but here it's longer, more ambitious, and in possession of a distinct, wry style.
Sheridan Harbridge, best known as an actor with sharp comedy skills and strong musical theatre chops, directs Blueberry Play with an eye firmly on the ridiculousness of the mundane, bringing Collins’ natural humour to the fore and using it to set a mostly buouyant rhythm. Clever projections (designed by Nicholas Fry) reinforce and strengthen her vision, adding an extra layer of fun to the script. Treffone makes much of the small moments – her face is a playground of comic expressions – but she brings the pathos gracefully and movingly when required.
The show feels stretched out and overlong, and its jumps between first and second-person narration, while consistent, can feel jarring. But there’s a refreshing sharpness to Collins’ playwriting voice; she’s a talent to watch out for. If we’re lucky, we’ll be seeing a lot more of her work in the future.