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Shit - The Lower Garden Theatre Project - Review

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by Emma Jane Explores (Emma Caldwell) (subscribe)
I'm a freelance actor, travel writer, photographer, foodie and attention seeker living in the lower North Shore. Check out my blog at for more.
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"From the moment I came out, nothing could save me"
Patricia Cornelius' Shit is not for the faint-hearted. This 60-minute long freight train of a play is being presented by new kids on the block, The Lower Garden Theatre Project for four nights only and if you haven't caught this play before, then get yourself to Redfern to see it. The actors are young and gutsy and the clever design and direction demonstrate that it is possible to create great theatre without elaborate sets or huge budgets. This is grassroots theatre and it absolutely works. Forgive the pun, but this production of Shit is anything but shit.

The play presents three young women that society has deemed to be no-hopers. They're rough, foul-mouthed and have lived hard lives of disappointment and heartbreak. We gain insights into these women throughout the play. There's Billy, who can't get through a sentence without littering it with obscenity. There's Bobby, who seems to chop and change her mind frequently and is hiding a sad past. And then there's Sam, who seems to be the baby of the group because she still hopes and wants more. The other two are resigned to the fact that it's them against the world that's never going to change, but Sam still has a bit of romanticism in her.

theatre, lower garden project, shit, indie theatre
The Cast of Shit

Todd McHenry has done a great job in directing a cohesive, punchy interpretation of this fantastic modern Australian work. He has assembled a strong cast of women unafraid to dive into the many layers of this text. In his director's note, McHenry describes the show as a "slap in the face" and his production certainly delivers that - so much so that my cheeks are still smarting. McHenry's direction is coupled brilliantly with a smart and innovative scenic design from Jake Severino. Severino's ability to transform a tiny, intimate space into many different places using only milk crates is a testament to his talent and creativity and it really highlights the fact that there are amazing things that can be done with a tight budget and an imagination.

The three actors who tackle the hard-talking, down and out women are wonderful in their roles. Hanni Trewin shows great range as Billy, and it is so refreshing to see a young woman throw herself so wholeheartedly into a role. Charlotte Huggart gives a vulnerable and nuanced performance as Bobby - often sitting back in the dialogue as Billy and Sam go at it, but always watching. It is evident that there is a lot going on internally for this character. Erin Louise Taylor gives a heartbreaking performance as Sam as we watch her struggle to keep her head above water and keep her hopes alive for something better. The ensemble work between these women is fantastic. They bounce off each other perfectly and this is what ultimately makes the show such a success.

Shit runs at the Actors Pulse in Redfern until the 21st April, so there are very few opportunities left to see this wonderful production. I look forward to seeing what this innovative young company bring to the stage next.

Emma Jane Explores attended this production as a guest.
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Why? A fantastic interpretation of a great Australian play
When: 7.30pm
Where: The Actor's Pulse, Regent Street, Redfern
Cost: $27.50 Full/$24.50 Concession
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