Northcote Town Hall Arts Centre
5 – 15 October
By Matthew Sheahan
I was greeted with a smile at the Northcote Town Hall before taking a seat in the old style foyer with old school jazz playing over the foyer speaker. The set was very abstract but simple at the same time with the illusion of making the room look bigger than it actually was to great effect.
Once the show started it was ‘bang’ from the word go with very intense lighting effects to create the scene of a person suffering from mental health and going ‘batshit crazy’ which was the premise of the whole show. Leah Shelton has created a heart wrenching and confronting piece where the majority of the show being with voice overs of psychologists and doctors diagnosing different symptoms and Shelton acting out how the patient feels and reacts to it. I particularly liked the use of the music and how it was the main storyteller, she had chosen songs that were reflected in both women and lyrically about mental illness.
There was a poignant ending with letters to her grandmother who said to have been ‘crazy’ but was clearly just misunderstood. The shows finale was when Shelton read out a list of celebrity women who she thought had been ‘misdiagnosed’ or ‘mistreated’ including Marilyn Monroe and Britney Spears which included a very confronting build up in intensity as each name was read out.
My only criticism is I wouldn’t like to have seen more physical performance from Shelton herself rather than so many TV clips. The highlight was definitely the use of sound and lighting in the form of sudden bursts of loud noise to create the intensity and emotion of the moment.
A very interesting and educational fringe experience.
BATSH*T is presented by Darebin Arts Speakeasy as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival
About the Author
Matthew Sheahan is an active performer on the community theatre scene having performed in musical theatre for almost 20 years all over Melbourne. He is also a vocal coach and has also written and performed his own cabaret shows.
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