Seesaw-Website-Banner.jpg
Reviews/Theatre

Chipping away at age-old taboos

16 April 2018

Review: The Talk, The Last Great Hunt ·
Subiaco Theatre Centre, 11 April ·
Review by Xan Ashbury ·

For an introvert like me, that 10 minutes before a show begins can be painful. You’re in your seat and feel obliged to speak to the stranger next to you. But not so with The Talk! Rozina Suliman’s gorgeous, evocative set handed me the perfect icebreaker.

“Great set!” I said.
“Are they candles?” he replied. We both peered a little harder.
“Umm … I think they’re dildos.”

Cue laughter. From there, we chatted like old friends. He told me about how his sons were quite open about their use of porn. I told him my mother had never got around to having the “birds and bees” talk with me. Although after she found a packet of condoms in my wardrobe when I was 17, she did say: “I hope you’re not being promiscuous!”

In a sense, I feel The Talk achieved its aim, before any of the three performers delivered their first line. I imagine these are exactly the conversations writer and director Gita Bezard hoped the play would inspire; conversations that encourage reflection and chip away at age-old taboos and, ultimately, equip and empower young people to have healthy relationships.

The play revolves around 15-year-old Eva (Cassidy Dunn), who has fallen foul of double standards and becomes the victim of harassment, slut-shaming and catfishing. Throughout the play, she becomes aware of how society objectifies women, tricking them into believing their worth is measured by their success in attracting a man and fulfilling his sexual needs.

The Talk opens with a hilarious sex-ed scene in which Eva’s tentative question about lubrication is met embarrassment and denial. “I could show you the chlamydia pictures again,” the prudish teacher (Christina Odam) replies. “Was the birthing video not graphic enough?”

Eva finds the focus was on abstinence, or at least protection from STDs, insulting. “You’d like us to have safe, bad sex?” she asks. The teacher’s ensuing discussion about fallopian tubes evoked hearty laughter from the audience, who like me, remember this style of vacuous health lessons, and why Dolly Doctor filled the void.

When Eva contacts a young woman, whose phone number has ended up on the back of a toilet door (Odam), the two strike up a friendship that fosters self-discovery and empowerment. Oh, and the theft of a six-speed vibrator from an adult store.

As well as playing one of Eva’s school frenemies, Megan Hunter portrays a tragically awkward teen boy with a fascination for the mating habits of insects. The character highlights the difficulties of fitting in and the dangers of adopting a fictional persona online.

Hunter also plays Eva’s mother, whose mishandling of “the mother-daughter talk” proved a crowd-pleaser.

The scenes are interspersed with glorious song and dance routines – essentially a mash-up of pop and hip-hop hits over several decades. One suggestive lyric (“I wanna see your peacock, cock, cock”) rolls into the next and twerking abounds. Ben Collins’ sound design and musical arrangement elevates the show by adding layers of cultural critique and character development in an entertaining fashion.

By the end of this sexual coming-of-age story, Eva and friends belt out “I love myself and I don’t need anyone else!” It’s an uplifting message but one I feel a teenage audience needs to hear more than middle-aged folk. At times I felt I was watching a play adapted from a YA novel, albeit with more coarse language and adult themes. And, while the show was warmly received by its opening night audience, I wasn’t convinced about the protagonist’s progression to maturity. One minute Eva’s swooning over texts from a mystery suitor, the next she’s ranting about the patriarchy. If only it were that simple…

The Talk plays Subiaco Theatre Centre until April 21.

Pictured top: Christina Odam, Cassidy Dunn, Megan Hunter in ‘The Talk’. Photo: Daniel James Grant.

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Xan Ashbury

Xan Ashbury is a teacher who spent a decade writing for newspapers and magazines in Australia and the UK. She won the Shorelines Writing for Performance Prize in 2014-17. Her favourite piece of playground equipment is the flying fox.

Past Articles

  • A tsunami of subversion

    You might want to brace yourself for Patrick Marlborough’s radical gloves-off stand-up in On Fringe, but it’s well worth the effort, advises Xan Ashbury.

  • Extraordinary tales about ordinary people

    Created by local performance company Whiskey & Boots, The Bystander Project is a celebration of stories, art and shared humanity, says Xan Ashbury.

Read Next

  • Kiki Saito and Matthew Lehmann in Nils Christe's Before Nightfall. Photo by Bradbury Photography copy Two West Australian ballet dancers on stage - a woman is perched on one pointe, her other leg extended upwards in a split. She arches back, supported by a male dancer. Hitting high notes at 70
    Reviews

    Hitting high notes at 70

    25 June 2022

    Traversing a range of human emotion, West Australian Ballet’s latest triple bill is an evening of beautifully performed contemporary dance, reports Kim Balfour.

    Reading time • 6 minutesDance
  • Cabaret festival. A singer wearing a fur hat is on stage with a pianist, guitarist and drummer. We can see the dress circle seats of the theatre in the background lit in a greenish light. Tributes to musical idols light up stage
    Reviews

    Tributes to musical idols light up stage

    23 June 2022

    A cabaret veteran and opera performer bring very different interpretations of the greats of classical, jazz and pop in the second week of the Perth International Cabaret Festival, writes David Zampatti

    Reading time • 6 minutesCabaret
  • A semi circle of 8 singers, with one standing in the centre, facing an audience. They are in a large hall and there are cnadles, chairs and pot plants decorating the floor around them. Vanguards bring poetry to vocal music
    Reviews

    Vanguards bring poetry to vocal music

    20 June 2022

    Armchair poets become legends in their own lunchtimes in Vanguard Consort’s imaginative Saturday Night Poetry, writes Claire Coleman.

    Reading time • 5 minutesMusic

Leave a comment

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio