Reviews/Comedy/Dance/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

Michelle Aitken’s tale of many emails and a golden llama

17 January 2022

A little kooky and very shiny, Michelle Aitken’s new solo work is classic Fringe fare, writes Nina Levy.

Kind Regards, Michelle Aitken, Hey! Precious ·
Rehearsal Room 1, State Theatre Centre of WA, 15 January ·

To: Alec Coles, WA Museum CEO
Cc: Michelle Aitken
Subject line: Fringe World show/Golden llama opportunity

Dear Mr Coles

There’s a Fringe World show that I think you should see. It’s called Kind Regards, Michelle Aitken and you feature in it quite prominently, if silently.

Kind regards

Nina Levy

Local maker and performer Michelle Aitken may be on the millennial/Gen Z cusp but when it comes to email she’s firmly on the millennial side of the equation.

So it’s appropriate that her new “questionably autobiographical” solo show Kind Regards, Michelle Aitken is thread through with emails.

Written and performed by Michelle Aitken, the solo also sits at a cusp (if a cusp could have three components), hovering between theatre, dance and comedy.

In fact, everything about the show follows a “slashie” theme, from the many side hustles that enable her to survive as an independent artist, to the layers of narrative that draw us into an increasingly bizarre golden llama/museum performance art fantasy (I don’t want to scare you Alec Coles but you need to check your email).

It’s all deftly drawn together by director Anna Lindstedt.

Accruing as many funny, albeit short-lived, side gigs as she can, Aitken keeps us thoroughly entertained with true tales from the coal-face of pyramid schemes, dodgy dance education workshops (not locally-based FYI), experimental medical trials and pet sitting. And while there are plenty of lols, it’s also an insight into or a reminder of, depending on your perspective, the harsh reality of the gig economy.

In between these stories Aitken weaves another narrative, about her relationship with her father. It’s funny too, but unsettling – at times our laughter is uncertain and in a few places we don’t laugh at all. Maybe it’s intentional but to me it felt like something was missing from this story.

And then there’s the llama issue… but you’ll have to see the show to experience that golden goodness.

Though Aitken’s choreography is low key, it’s the icing on the cake; integrated seamlessly into the work. Laying out forks at a catering job has an amusingly medieval-circle-dance quality. The action that accompanies “delete” slices so cleanly and appropriately through the air that I will never again trash an email without picturing it.

Running at just over an hour, Kind Regards could benefit from an edit – as time wears on its punchiness starts to wane.

It’s no deal-breaker, however. Equal parts comical and kooky, Kind Regards, Michelle Aitken is excellent Fringe-fare.

Kind Regards, Michelle Aitken continues until 19 January 2022.

Pictured top is Michelle Aitken in ‘Kind Regards, Michelle Aitken. Photo: Mitch Aldridge

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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