Review: “It’s Not Creepy If They’re Hot”
WORDS BY BIANCA FARMAKIS
There are very few plays that resonate with our demographic. I don’t care if you genuinely see a side of Hamlet in yourself, or a touch of Tennessee Williams’ anything – no one harbours that much depth at this age. That’s exactly what “It’s Not Creepy If They’re Hot” hits on the head through its startling, mystifying tableau of a big night out.
Set across several intersecting party sequences, the play welcomes us into a safe space of cheap alcohol in red solo cups, a lot of nangs and people we love to hate, all within Del Mel’s nostalgic bedroom stage setting that poses as a microcosm of everything that kind of sucks about our generation.
Don’t dismiss this play’s portrayal of vapidness as a fluff comedy fest though – between all the ketamine consumption, bitch-fights and snapchat love affairs comes a nuanced, articulate critique of the fragility of semi-privileged, semi-educated adolescents.
Adam (Joseph Ingui) and Henry’s (Joshua Shediak) characters come out swinging with an unparalleled chemistry. The larrikin banter, ketamine-induced physicality and overly ironic discussion of their serotonin levels had such a range of emotions, the audience were left in stitches. Every time someone talks about drugs affecting their serotonin levels like they’re a qualified chemist, I lose ten years of my life, so their two-minute duologue killed me and then brought me back to life by how genuinely funny it was. The pair were persistent scene stealers, who boasted a natural but confronting character development in the second act.
“If you think my dick’s gonna get hard, you’re kidding yourself.”
What made the play though, was writer Rosie Licence’s brilliant and raw depiction of the reality of female relationships. How the characters Liv (Victoria Boult), Claire (Sophie Colbran), Helena (Dani Maher) and Nina (Akala Newman) navigated the volatile nature intrinsic to ‘sisterhood’ was particularly confronting. Going from vain conversations of boys and beauty, to issues of body image, and the forever relatable mantra “I can’t stop eating”, they were at every point as comedic as they were considerate. Each performer created characters that were as quick to bitch about each other behind their back as they were to their face, counterbalancing any sexist stereotypes of catty school girls. They engaged with subtle cultural conventions akin to womanhood and tore each other down in the most third-wave feminist way – with abrupt truthfulness. These women held such a harmonious interaction on stage, and while at times shouting was excessive and EMOTIONAL (lol), they redirected each other’s personalities seamlessly and made for a truly interesting insight into female friendships.
“Those three little dots…”
Ultimately, John (Max Seppelt) completely stole the show. The first half hour of the first act involved his limp corpse passed out across the bed and was only triumphed by his red-rock chip requesting, 30-year-old child having, high-pitched voice-talking advice. Wherever you are John, please record a lullaby for me, so I may forever dream peacefully.
Licence’s script harbours a maturity well beyond the playwright’s years. The scathing cynicism exuded by resident ‘sourpuss’ Claire (Sophie Colbran) was easy to write. But to counterbalance her “woke criticisms” of the characters that operate within her realm with self-aware, openly insecure individuals that shield themselves with an armour of sexuality shows that these characters have a depth far more nuanced than the perimeters of their archetypes would incur.
While Licence boasted an incredibly accessible sense of humour that captivated audiences in the first act, when dealing with the conflict of the scene, the script seemed to overly pound home the hard truths that the play comes to unravel. While at times this seemed over-acted, upon reflection, it served a purpose – to confront, to counteract the comedy and to reinforce how prevalent the issue is within society.
“I bet $50 she’s a bitch.”
Ultimately there was a great degree of diversity in characters, from those who had minute-long monologues to those with only several lines. Each character’s dialogue or discussion of another built intricate human beings, that both channelled and transcended the tropes attributed to their archetype. Except in Connor, who was a complete asshole at the start, during the middle and in the end (which I assume was intentional). Great work though to Tom Osbourne. That hover hand hug at the end was the perfect way to cement yourself as the low-key villain of the entire thing.
Professionalism of this play really filtered through (pardon the pun) Georgia Condon and Tom Hicks’ lighting and sound design. Every time the door was opened, volume was adjusted appropriately and immersed the audience in the intoxicating atmosphere that is a 19-year-old’s house party. Plus, for a play reliant on social media and technology, the addition of a phone screen projection was brilliantly done.
Niamh Gallagher and Phoebe Haylen’s costuming of this play was subtle but so spot on I literally cannot EVEN. There’s something about a Hawaiian shirt paired with a hypebeast-druggo bumbag that perfectly captures the ’privileged poor’ aesthetic. Big white sneakers with an obnoxious Gucci logo splashed along the side? Sign me the hell up. Props to the props department as well – I never knew Honey Soy Chicken Red Rot Deli Chips could be the source of the next world war, but here we are.
Ultimately, this play was objectively brilliant. Director Max Baume should be extremely satisfied with the calibre of the performances and execution of his vision. It’s very refreshing to see something that is so current and ‘millennial’ that also boasts a degree of longevity and timelessness.
“The play asks us to confront not what happened, or why did it happen – but why aren't we talking about it?” reads the event description.
You’ll need to talk about it when it ends for sure.
“It’s Not Creepy If They’re Hot” is on for two more performances at the Fringe Festival. Buy tickets here.