Theatre review: Powder Room, The MC Showroom

Forget the dance floor, the real action happens in the bathroom.

We’ve all been there. It’s as familiar as it is hazy – a big night out where bathroom confessions, lipstick touch-ups and brunch plans with strangers are given more weight than the dance floor. Powder Room, a creation by Tuia Suter and Bella Moretto, leaned into this premise, toilet lines, tactical voms and all. The play unfurled over a single night, nestled within a row of neon-graffitied bathroom stalls that doubled as a hideout for five characters, each embroiled in their separate crises. 

Tiff (Amelia Nemet) grappled with a sketchy older boyfriend (played by Xepheren Jaadwa), who had been caught in the act, while Xan (Luce Wirthensohn) mustered the courage to chat up a woman she was certain was way too cool for her. In a neighbouring stall, Jamie (Amelia Dunn) oscillated between doling out unhelpful “wisdoms” and plunging her head in a toilet bowl. 

Dezi Boyle, playing Piper, entered in sunglasses, acting as our guide through nightlife escapades and pee-pal quests. Swiftly and inadvertently roped into friendship drama by Scarlett (Ez Kenworthy), Piper dived nostril-first into the cubical fray. Amid some tender character moments and an iconic crawl beneath a stall divider, it was Boyle’s performance that stole the show. Her unwavering energy and impeccable comic timing commanded the stage and was punctuated by frequent fourth wall breaks that infused both depth and silliness into the narrative – an unlikely ingredient without which the play would have suffered.  

There wasn’t a dull moment in the first act, but the show’s midsection – split by a fairly awkward infomercial interlude – meandered where it should have built tension. A few cringe-worthy lines aside (this reviewer tends to wince every time “f**k boy” or “f**k girl” is used in the wild), the play’s dialogue was proficient and laugh-out-loud funny in parts, thanks to some localised humour. Its zenith arrived when relationships fractured after a few coincidental truths were revealed. The ensuing twists here were genuinely unexpected and clever, but faltered slightly in execution, never quite reaching the heat they were perhaps aiming for. The conflict subsequently felt lukewarm, detracting from the show’s emotional punch. 

Tonally, the play felt at its best when it diverged from heartfelt and leaned into the chaos of female friendships. Consequently, the climax offered a satisfying punch as the women converged in renewed camaraderie, showcasing the writers’ keen awareness of their audience. The Showroom Theatre provided an intimate canvas, a snug setting well-suited to the play’s scale. Groovy sound design and the simplistic yet vibrant stall-themed set further elevated the experience.

Read: Theatre review: The Approach, Flight Path Theatre

Ultimately, the play was well-executed – a well-calibrated medley of themes that came together for an entertaining evening. While the show veered towards sweetness rather than raw emotional intensity, the play embraced its own kind of heartfelt resonance, delivering an undeniably enjoyable (and nostalgic) experience. 

Powder Room
The MC Showroom, Prahran, Melbourne

Creator, Writer, Director, Producer: Tuia Suter
Writer, Director, Assistant Producer: Bella Moretto 
Set Design: Madison Stephens, Ash Donovan and Adam Smith
Assistant Set Design: MJ Kim and Sara Mohieldin
Stage Manager: Annalise Sharp
Costume: Bella Moretto
Lighting and Sound: Sandro Falce
Intimacy Director: Margot Fenley
Graphic Design and Photography: Adam Smith
Music: Graintraderr (Jarrah Wishart)
Fight Director: Joshua Bell
Voiceover: Ruby Macholm-Black, Ella Godwin, Xepheren Jaadwa
Cast: Amelia Dunn, Amelia Nemet, Dezi Boyle, Ez Kenworthy, Luce Wirthensohn, Xepheren Jaadwa

Powder Room was performed from 16-19 August 2023.

Nina Culley is a writer and horror enthusiast based in Naarm. She’s the Studio Manager and Director of Melbourne Young Writers' Studio where she also teaches creative writing. Her works have appeared in Kill Your Darlings, Aniko Press and Eureka Street.