Performance reviews: If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love you, This is Living, Melbourne Fringe Festival

Two Melbourne Fringe shows – one of which explored mischief-makers in Ireland and the other the loss of a wife and mother.
Cocaine. Two young men, one is learning on the other. They are spotlit.

If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You

Christian Cavallo directed If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You about two young mischief-makers (and lovers on the down-low) in a small town in Ireland. Mikey and Casey found themselves stuck on a roof in the middle of a burglary, evading the police circling below, and used this time to explore their hopes, fears and feelings for each other. One of them was an English newcomer to the town and felt trapped by the judgemental attitudes of the locals. The other grew up in the town and eventually became notorious as the local bad boy and ruffian, frequently in trouble with the law and constantly on the lookout for the next big fight. 

Cavallo’s direction honed the humorous, ridiculous, jovial, tender and tense moments of the play. Asher Griffith-Jones and River Stevens had excellent chemistry as the two clandestine lovers. They performed confidently and with great verve. Their authentic accents and ability to inhabit the physicality of their characters demonstrated their skills.

Griffith-Jones conveyed curiosity and trepidation as the slightly lost but circumspect outsider. Stevens was bold, intrepid and formidable as the fearsome insider. The aggression, possessiveness and recklessness, but also the silliness, magnetism and unmistakable vulnerability of his character was palpable in his performance. 

The actors converged movingly on the resolution of their predicament. The play compelled you to consider the remarkable chasm between two types of people – those who choose to leave their troubled lives behind and move to seek out better, more genial surroundings, and those who stay on in the old world to fight the same old battles and persevere in the face of ever-familiar prejudices, restrictions, troubles and challenges. The narrative and Stevens’ performance offered this reviewer a new perspective on the unique vulnerability of the ones who choose to remain. 

If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You
★★★★ 1/2

Meat Market Stables
Playwright: John O’Donovan
Director: Christian Cavallo
Cast: Asher Griffith-Jones and River Stevens

If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You was performed 5-21 October 2023.

This is Living

Directed by Gavin Roach, this was a play about the aftermath of the accidental death of a wife and mother. Alice woke up bewildered after her death to find her husband Michael in shock and mourning. Michael struggled to convince Alice’s spirit that she really had died. After he eventually convinced her, he confessed that he could not gather the will to carry on and look after their daughter alone. 

The play oscillated between a retrospective narrative charting their love story and the posthumous confrontation with the seemingly impossible challenge of solo parenting in the aftermath of a partner’s death. The divergences and convergences in the asynchronous plot revealed one significant detail that definitively shaped our understanding of their loss – their child was born after the heartbreak of an earlier miscarriage and her birth was the culmination of their dreams. 

Rebekah Carton and Damian Okulic put in sterling performances as Alice and Michael. They shared fantastic chemistry and navigated the constantly shifting chronology of the plot skilfully and flawlessly. They were superb in retracing the trajectory of their characters’ love story and in building up the tension at critical junctures. 

Two Fringe shows explore mischief-makers in Ireland and the loss of a wife and mother.
Rebekah Carton and Damian Okulic. Photo: Cameron Grant.

Their ability to move seamlessly between contrasting scenarios and states of mind was inspiring. They were gorgeously intimate and affectionate in their romantic scenes and terrifying during their crises and confrontations. These two performers had real acting nous. The structure of the plot demanded skilful and astute direction and dramaturgy. Gavin Roach’s expertise shone through in the performance. 

This play made you ponder the realities of parenthood cut short through misfortune and tragedy. It plumbed the depths of the fears that would besiege the partner left behind. It confronted the angst and despair to which one may succumb before hopefully re-emerging from the ashes. 

Read: Performance reviews: Access, Dougie Baldwin and Aza: stories of grief in diaspora, Melbourne Fringe Festival

Its genre, structure and use of serial narratives allowed the viewer to appreciate the magnitude of the loss depicted. We watched as the couple grew from one foundational relationship-building moment to another and as they overcame crises together. The magical realism of the play allowed them a final opportunity to deal with death together and to come to terms with battling on to hopefully become a good solo parent. 

This Is Living

Meat Market Stables
Playwright: Liam Borrett
Director: Gavin Roach
Cast: Rebekah Carton and Damian Okulic

This is Living was performed 5-21 October 2023.

Arjun Rajkhowa lives in Perth and enjoys writing about local arts and culture.