Comedy review: Sashi Perera: Boundaries, Trades Hall, 2024

A rising star who explores the messiness and blurriness of life.
A woman of south-east Asian appearance wears a black scoop neck top and smiles at the camera with one hand behind her head. Sashi Perera.

Boundaries, binaries, categories. We’re all grappling with being in between something. But, as Sashi Perera reminds us, maybe it’s all made up? Or more grey than we realise? The individualist/collectivist binary, and the worry of being too white and not brown enough comically haunts Perera’s comedy show, Boundaries – a resonant dilemma for many people living between different cultural contexts. 

Playfully existential and full of curiosity, Perera’s personal and social insights make up a hilarious hour of embracing the weirdness and blurriness of life. Together, we laugh in acceptance of confusion and messy lines, and the ridiculousness of humanity. 

After a Best Newcomer nomination for her debut solo show Endings (MICF 2023), an ever-growing social media following and viral clips that may have fallen into your feeds, Perera returns to Melbourne International Comedy Festival with finely crafted story-telling, crackling punchlines and unforgettable musical numbers. 

For a delightful hour, Perera has the audience questioning who we are as a species, laughing/panicking about the cost-of-living crisis, sympathising with poodles and reliving our own journeys of burgeoning independence from our parents. She dips into gendered and racialised experiences, and spins origin tales that are as funny as they are convincing – from the invention of cricket to the pervasive presence of Shakespeare. 

A coming-of-age drama is crafted through the reimagining of Meatloaf’s song, ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ and various pie charts on the overhead screen. After this experience, the song is no longer about romantic love, but your relationship to your parents and your evolution of boundaries.

With impeccable singing (despite having a cold!), Perera provides sharp growing-up observations and laughter, never seeming preachy or know-it-all. Rather, her exploratory and curious style is infectious and we are alongside her for the journey laughing and reflecting on familiar oddities in life. 

Read: Comedy Review: Elf Lyons: Raven, The Greek, MICF 2024

Perera reminds us that nothing’s really inherent (besides some obvious physical realities) and it’s possible that boundaries can move. The night finishes with a brilliantly rewritten singalong of ‘Under Pressure’ ending on an energised high, boundaries perhaps collapsing when we sing and laugh together. 

Tickets: $30-$39

Sashi Perera: Boundaries will be performed at Trades Hall until 21 April 2024 as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF 2024).  

Monique Nair is a Melbourne/Naarm based writer of Indian-Italian-Polish heritage. She is a screenwriter for My Melbourne (2024, Mind Blowing Films, Screen Australia) and co-edited Mascara Literary Review’s debut anthology, Resilience (2022), published with Ultimo Press. An alumni of the West Writers program with Footscray Community Arts, her writing has been published in Kill Your Darlings, Mascara Literary Review, Voiceworks, Peril, and Swim Meet Lit Mag. She has performed or presented at Emerging Writers’ Festival and National Young Writers’ Festival.