Melbourne-based theatre maker Roslyn Oades brings the Melbourne Festival hit, Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday to Riverside Theatre Parramatta, from 27-29 July 2017.
The story provides a snapshot of two important occasions in life: an 18th and an 80th birthday celebration. With the two milestones placed side-by-side, I quickly see the contrast between the robustness of youth and the feebleness of old age. I watch young, drunk hooligans wheel through their wilderness period, regaling each other about recent exploits in love, sex, and stupid stunts. Then I see old friends who have reached the home stretch in life. They share stories about their deceased loved ones and reminisce about the golden days as a way of passing their remaining days in the nursing home.
The play is a departure from traditional theatre. In place of scripts are headphones placed over the actor’s ears, feeding them real life conversations recorded at actual parties. The actors echo every cough, mumble, and pause down to a T, creating fluid and realistic dialogue. It doesn’t feel like I’m watching a play as much as I’m witnessing a true event. And with such a small cast (six actors), each performer doubles up on characters, constantly switching between the elderly and the sprightly and elastic young.
Roger Oakley, in particular, switches between his roles with remarkable fluidity. One moment he is an elderly man, huddled in his chair, reminiscing about his youth. The next he is standing on a chair and playing a shy 18-year-old girl who is giving an awkward speech at her coming-of-age party.
Oades has delivered a documentary-esque theatre production that is both entertaining and poignant. As I laugh at the drunken banter of the youths and listen just as reverently to the reminiscences of the elderly, I see how age affects our values and I can’t help but do a bit of self-reflection and ask: when I am 80 years old, what will I be reminiscing about?
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Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday runs 27-29 July 2017, 7.30pm (60 mins) at Riverside Theatre Parramatta.
Purchase tickets now.
The venue is accessible.