Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

Cutting through the sweetness

22 January 2021

Just when you’ve reached cuteness overload, Manic Pixie Dream Girl gets under your skin, David Zampatti says.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Evening Productions ·
The Nostalgia Box, 20 January, 2021

Calling a show cute might seem like damning with faint praise, but it’s an inescapable description of writer/director Hannah Evelyn’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

It’s a cute story, driven by cute dialogue and indescribably cute characters. Two of them, the comic book café worker Carly (Evelyn) and the indie rock singer/bartender Morgana (Gala Shevtsov) seem as saccharine as the gruesome pink marshmallow coffee Morgana comes in to order.

Evelyn’s direction emphasises the adorability of it all to the last border of bearability, and after 10 minutes or so it was so winsome it was hard not to wince. But then, just quietly, the show sneaks up on you. It’s partly due to Carly’s workmate, Nessa (Vanessa Cobbs), who’s acerbic and judgmental, it’s partly because the affection deprivation of the characters percolates up from under the sweetness and light, and it’s partly because it’s harder to get what you need than what you want.

The result is surprisingly touching and forlorn, and ultimately rewarding. It’s as if the stock characters in a comic (Morgana, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the title, being one) step out from their frames and become real, and all too human. And, out of all expectations, merit caring about.

Shevtsov, Evelyn and Cobbs work their characters with considerable aplomb – Evelyn, in particular, has mastered the art of crying without either tears or sobs – and the set and sound design (by Jordan Azor, who effectively introduces voice-overed minor characters into the action) are neatly done.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl is more than it seems, and does more than you think it will. It’s well worth your while.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 31 January at the Nostalgia Box. (It’s an interesting little venue, by the way, and you can play its vintage computer games before and after the show for no charge).

Pictured top: Vanessa Cobbs, left, as Nessa, Gala Shevtsov, centre, as Morgana, and Hannah Evelyn as Carly in ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’. Photo: Kaifu Deng

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Author —
David Zampatti

David Zampatti has been a student politician, a band manager, the Freo Dockers’ events guy, a bar owner in California, The West Australian’s theatre critic and lots of other crazy stuff. He goes to every show he’s reviewing with the confident expectation it will be the best thing he’s ever seen.

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