Friday 20 October 2023

I'm Ready To Talk Now review (Melbourne Fringe Festival)

Oliver Ayres has packed a lot into twenty-minutes with I’m Ready To Talk Now, but this well-considered immersive show for one person at a time patiently and intelligently explores his journey of being diagnosed, and living, with a chronic medical condition.

The performance starts with us sitting on a chair and facing a white screen. We put on a pair of headphones, and we begin to hear Ayres' voice as he explains how he relates to his illness and the empathy (or lack of he extends to others), frustration, anger and loneliness he encounters. Ayres’ monologue is obviously rehearsed but his natural pauses and uses of 'like' and 'umm' gives the impression of this recording being off-the-cuff and authentic. It genuinely feels like he is unburdening himself with these thoughts and opening himself up to us.

As we hear his voice, his words are projected onto the white screen and Ayres slowly proceeds to enter into the space with jerking movements. These become faster and blurrier until he momentarily disappears behind the screen, which has now turned into a window looking out to nature. What should be a gorgeous view gradually transforms into an impossible dream. Are we looking through a window or looking through a cell? This sense of isolation is slowly beginning to envelop us.

The final part of the experimental show compels you to put yourself in Ayres' place in a confronting but protected way. We are carefully looked after throughout the twenty minutes, almost as if we are the patient and Ayres is our qualified professional. It may be a role reversal for him, but it let’s us know we are in good hands and allows us to go deeper with the thoughts and ideas that come to mind from this experience.

Upon exiting, we are handed a flyer with a bit of background information that leaves you even more fortunate to have been part of this show. Creating art requires a level of vulnerability and openness, and with I’m Ready To Talk Now, Ayres has found a beautifully gentle but honest expression of doing so which results in a unique experience for his audience.

Show Details

Venue: Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts, Carlton
Season: until 22 October | various times between 4:45pm and 8:15pm
Duration: 20 minutes
Tickets: $15 Full | $12 Concession
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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