Wednesday 1 February 2023

The Last Brunch review (Midsumma Festival)

Darwent & Gray makes its return to Midsumma Festival with a brand new musical theatre production The Last Brunch. With an all-queer cast, the story follows Bea, who is invited to Brandon's home, her ex-boyfriend, who announces he is getting married to his new partner.

What ensues is a comedic but considered look at love, marriage and relationships within this group of queer and trans friends, lovers and in between. Caleb Darwent's script is full of interesting insights about how the queer community views marriage, from both sides of the spectrum. Rather than imposing their own opinion on the issue, Darwent uses the first half of the show to have an open discourse on these ideas, whereas the second half is more a look at the impact relationships - both romantic and platonic - can have on people within the trans and queer community.

Darwent finds the humour in the truthfulness of the play and there are very funny scenes to be had. However, there are instances when the cast cannot be heard over the laughter so some direction and confidence in pausing for a moment so that the laughter can quieten down and the next line can be heard is recommended.

The music and lyrics by Emily Gray gets to the heart of the issues and the finale is a great way for the entire cast to display their musical and vocal talents. With only three songs in the show, they do feel slightly intrusive to the dialogue and narrative and perhaps it needs one or two additional numbers to make them more integral to the plot and allow for Gray's skills to further shine.

The ensemble work extremely well together, with Conagh Punch and Sasha Chong being the standouts. Chong, while in a supportive role, is provided with brilliant lines that they deliver with perfect deadpan with and acerbity. Punch has the challenging role of bringing sincerity and conflict to comedic effect as Brandon, which he presents with poise. His scenes with both Brandon’s partner Hugo (Sodi Murphy-Shrives) and his ex Bea (Quinn Langsam-Jones) highlight a history that doesn't need to be explained to the audience.

Darwent & Gray have a knack for taking something common and almost mundane, and while not turning it into a farce, they know how to turn on the laughs and ensuring an emotional connection and investment for the audience. The Last Brunch may be a show about a group of friends searching for their own love stories, whatever that may be, but it is also something that we can all relate to, and wish for, which makes The Last Brunch an even more exceptional production.

Show Details

The Motley Bauhaus, 118 Elgin St, Carlton

Season: until 4
February | 8:30pm
Duration: 60 minutes

Tickets: $30 Full | $25 Concession
Bookings: Midsumma Festival

Image Credit: Teddy Darling

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