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Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

Angst on the Tube

2 February 2021

Madelaine Page brings great energy to her solo Fringe show, and time should help it develop, David Zampatti says.

Next Stop: REALITY, Madelaine Page ·
Girls’ School, 30 January, 2021 ·

Harriet McLean, young, Australian, chasing her dream in the UK, jumps a little tentatively on a train for her first trip on the London Underground.

She hears the deadpan announcements that are part of the soundtrack of the capital for so many Aussies in London: “Your train is departing. Next stop Elephant and Castle (or Oxford Circus or The Embankment). Doors closing – please stand clear.”

Harriet (played by her creator, writer/actor Madelaine Page) is heading for Waterloo Station, and thence to the South Bank, clutching her portfolio for her interview for a design internship at the National Theatre. Hope and anxiety sit on her shoulders like angels and demons. What she really, really doesn’t need is anything to go wrong with her trip.

Hey presto! “We apologise for this interruption to our service. We hope to resume your journey soon.”

Stuck underground, time ticking by, Harriet relives the anxieties that have plagued her all her life. If she jumps from the playground monkey bars, what nasty lies in wait in the sand beneath her? Will the cat she hit in her car survive, and is the man who witnessed the accident following her? How did her job assessment go? How will her job interview go?

Life for ordinary people like her feels more and more like getting squeezed into holes when they are neither round nor square pegs. She wonders how happiness works.

Madelaine Page’s Next Stop: REALITY, the story of Harriet’s disrupted journey, is no doubt inspired by personal experiences, but its useful message and good intentions don’t really result in impactful theatre.

Page brings great energy and occasional flashes of inspiration to her performance, especially in scenes where Harriet remembers her much-loved grandmother, but the show generally lacks the ebb and flow of real life and authentic emotion.

This is its world premiere season, and there’s plenty there for Page to work with, given it has an unusually long season for a Fringe show. Despite this week’s screeching halt (“We apologise for this interruption to the Fringe … ”), it could well reward a visit later in its run.

All being well, Next Stop: REALITY will resume on 5 February and run until 14 February in Room 2:04 at Girls’ School.

Pictured top: Madelaine Page brings great energy and occasional flashes if inspiration to her performance. Photo: Eileen Devereux Photography

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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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