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Ljubicica: Wild Violet - Review

Home > Melbourne > Performing Arts | Theatre | Theatre Reviews
by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
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A rich story of a family's migration to Australia
Ljubičica Wild Violet is currently playing at The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne, as part of the Melbourne Fringe Cabaret Festival.

Ljubicica is a heartfelt story of a woman's journey as she migrates to Australia from Croatia to be reunited with her husband, who left some five years earlier to build a new life for his family.

Ljubičica  Wild Violet at The Butterfly Club
Josipa Draisma's passion shines through in this personal story of family migration to Australia


What makes this performance so personal is that the main character in the story is the lead performer's mother. Josipa Draisma elicited the story through interviews with her mother, Ivica, and interlaced it with some of her own memories. The story in Ljubičica is told with all the passion you might expect from someone who has, at least in part, lived the story herself.

The 'ljubičica' of the title are the wild violets of Croatia, and they provide both a comfort in an impoverished childhood and a symbol of a life left behind as the family builds a new life in Australia.

Written and directed by Melita Rowston, we are taken on a delightful ride in Ljubičica. Much of the story is told through Croatian songs. But in a clever piece of direction, Mara Knezevic joins Josipa on the stage, and translates the lyrics into English.

Ljubičica  Wild Violet at The Butterfly Club
Josipa is joined on the stage by Mara Knezevic


Josipa's talent shines through as she takes us through a tapestry of song and dance, the highs and lows of the story creating moments of drama and humour in equal parts. A master story teller, we can almost smell the sea as Josipa describes their voyage to Australia. Josipa's passion and expressiveness create an energy that can't be resisted through this captivating performance.

"My mother talks of her childhood in Croatia and her life-changing voyage to Australia with such gusto, humility and hilarity that she always leaves me in tears of sadness and joy. For years I've wanted to bring her story to the stage. When I met Melita Rowston working on a production about Asylum seekers, I knew I'd found the writer and director who would help me bring my mother's story to life with love and laughter."

As well as the vocal support from Mara Knezevic, Josipa is accompanied on stage by two outstanding musicians, Michael O'Donnell (violin, viola, guitar) and Crystal Moloney (accordion, flute, guitar). The way they can seamlessly transition between musical instruments is impressive, to say the least.

It's no surprise that Ljubičica won the Best Music Award at the Sydney Fringe Festival.

Liubičica  Wild Violet at The Butterfly Club
Ljubičica Wild Violet plays at The Butterfly Club each night until Sunday 26th June


After the show, my partner Dave made an interesting comment, along the lines that 'this is a story of migration similar to that which so many Australians will have experienced, and yet we hear so little about it'. I agree with him. As well as being compelling theatre, Ljubičica is insightful and thought provoking.

Highly recommended.

Ljubičica Wild Violet plays at The Butterfly Club at 8.30pm each evening until Sunday 26th June. Running time is one hour.

Tickets are full $36, concession $34. Click here to buy tickets online, or call The Butterfly Club on (03) 9663 8107.

Image attribution

The images in this article were taken by the writer. They are not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of WeekendNotes.
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*Fiona Anderson was invited as a guest
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Why? Brilliant, passionate, award winning theatre
When: 8.30pm each night until Sunday 26th June
Phone: (03) 9663 8107
Where: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne (off Lt Collins St, between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets)
Cost: $36 full, $34 concession
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