Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
A comedy show about what it's like to be alive in 2019
Mindful-mess by Medicated Panic Dream Girls was a sweet, light-hearted sketch comedy show about mental health, millennial life and memes. Written by Laura Buskes and Eloise Willis-Hardy and performed by the writers plus a talented supporting cast of Emily Joy, Taylor Griffiths, and Aisling McGrogan, this show was a heartfelt yet hilarious exploration of the anxiety and somewhat dysfunctional lifestyles that seem to have become the hallmark of this generation's shared experience.
Mindful-mess was a compilation of stand-alone sketches and musical pieces with clever writing and entertaining characterization. It drew from pop culture, classic literature, fairy tales, modern memes, and of course real life in Melbourne, to communicate a very relatable overview of what it's like to be alive in 2019. Some sketches were fantastical and abstract, such as the sketch with the Dickensian ghosts, or the sketch where Buskes accidentally damages her "good thought cloud" in an effort to hold on to it when it's trying to float away. Other sketches appealed to the warm fuzzy centre within us, such as the sketch about adopting a new sense of humour as if it were a puppy at the shelter. Others still were cynical and unimpressed with life, such as the sketch that parodies what it's like to seek help at Kmart, and the musical number about nightmare housemates and housing affordability. There was also some very feminist humour, such as the car salesmen and fairy godmother sketches. All these sketches were consistently funny and persuasively performed by a very likeable and talented cast.
The show had a casual, no-frills feel to it, and while it had a lot of innovative content, it also had some fairly cliche moments, especially in some of its meme references. All of this worked though, it fit well with the show's overall goal of being relatable and uncomplicated. The night I attended, one of the two main performers, Eloise Willis-Hardy, was unable to perform because of being unwell, but the rest of the cast competently filled in, so the show went on, almost without any hiccups. The main noteworthy differences were apparently in the musical bits, which were performed a capella with the group instead of as a duet with Willis-Hardy's usual ukelele accompaniment, but the cast handled the changes well overall, and the audience was supportive, all of which added to the show's appeal and charm. I would have loved to experience the show the way Buskes and Willis-Hardy intended it, but I was not disappointed in the least (and in fact I was more than happily entertained) at the version I did get to attend.