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shopfront theatre : the lies we were told : a super fun show


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The Shopfront Arts-Co-op recently came to the inner city to perform a favourite work, a group devised piece, THE LIES WE WERE TOLD.

Many may not know about the Co-op which has a long, proud history. The Co-op was formed in 1976 in Penshurst by two theatre directors, Errol Bray and Garry Fry, who devoted the Co-op to providing opportunities for upcoming writers, actors and directors with Bray saying, ‘Too often the expression and creative ability of young people is patronised or ignored.” Notable former members of the Co-op have been Paul Capsis, Andrew Upton, Trevor Ahley, Hilary  Bell and Julia Zemiro.

Before the show commenced, the theatre was abuzz with excitement  as  the audience comprised mainly of teenagers and supporting family members. We were told before the action commenced that all the stories we were about to be told were true.

THE LIES WE WERE TOLD really kicked off for me when the twelve  performers lined up  at the front of the stage and shared some whoopers that they had been told.

As their sixty minute show proceeded, more and more lies kept coming up. As well, there was the enjoying of listening to come of the wilder imaginings of the kids such as Alana’s musing, ‘do erasers really sacrifice their lives for our mistakes’. Other musings of hers were , ‘what if stars are just holes in the container so that we can breathe? and  that she was tired of her mother saying things like dinners was almost ready. She didn’t like the word ‘almost’. Another musing by Jack, ‘When NASA sent people to space, did they see the cow that jumped over the moon?’ Tristan was told, ‘snow is frozen cloud’.

Very amusing  was the scene where the group transformed  into a twelve step group for people who had been lied  to. The group sat around in a circle with one person, at a time getting up and sharing, and then, of-course, the group would say thank you for sharing. The scene also used a video interface featuring group leader, the deadpan Jake, who also shared that whenever he had a tantrum as a child he was told by his parents that they would call the police! He shared that he would straight away shut up, as he was scared that the police would show up!

Gil shared, ‘It’s hard growing up, being  14 and growing up in the western suburbs.’ Then he started playing his saxophone!n The audience loved it and  broke out in laughter.

Astutely, Megan came up with the profound observation that she felt ‘very privileged to be lied to a kid’. She observed that at least some of her parents lying had to do with protecting her from of the less pleasant realities of life.

The performers impressively maintained a high energy through the show and were well choreographed in the quaint dance/movement sequences.

Just a few quibbles. The lighting was a little feint at times and it was a bit difficult, at times, to decipher which of the actors were speaking.  Some of the actors could have projected a bit better.

The wonderful performers were  Tom Anderson, Geronimo Devitt, Gil Gracie, Tom Harper, Megan Harrison, Tristan Holmes, Jake Milligan, Astra Milne, Sunny Morris, Alana Saidi, Noam Sen Gupta, Olivia Tsigaropoulos, Miah Tito-Barratt, Jack Waters. 

The creative team comprised Natalie Rose, Assistant Director Nicole Pingin with script overseeing by Natalie Rose, Sharleen Ndlovu and Nicole Pingin, Composer Prema Yin, Set, Lighting and Costume Design by Daniel Potter, Producer Valentina Corona and Lily Hayman.

This show  deserves a wider audience. It was clearly a lot of fun for the cast and just as much for the audience! Hopefully other theatre companies will run with it. And hopefully Currency Press will get on to publishing the script.

A Shopfront Arts Co-op and Monkey Baa co-production, performed as part of Sydney World Pride Amplified 2023, THE LIES WE WERE TOLD  played a brief season at the  ARA Darling Quarter Theatre , 1-26 Harbour Street, Sydney between 21 and 23 February, 2023.

Featured image :Noam Sen Gupta. Production photography by Clare Hawley


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