REVIEW: Zoe McDonald in FOMO

Impeccable theatre

By Bradley Storer

As we enter the space at Upstairs at Errol’s, we are met with the sight of a woman onstage frenziedly performing vocal warm-ups, talking both to herself and yelling down an invisible phone. The lights dim, and we are thrown into the world of a late-night radio programLet’s Be Honest on Mellow FM, being broadcast live, with us as the audience. The initial topic of the show is quickly derailed into an exploration of the ‘21st century malaise’, FOMO – fear of missing out.


Performer Zoe McDonald (a member of dynamic theatre creators Present Tense and seen in their productions Chant des Catacombes and Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert) portrays a large cast of characters with consummate skill in this solo outing. With lightning speed McDonald switches from the beleaguered host of the program to a variety of colourful characters – a bogan tattoo artist, a beautician/vajazzler from Croydon, an earthy American university professor and more who weigh in on the mysterious topic of the evening.  McDonald embodies each of these different personalities with such precise and perfect physicality and mannerism that she can evoke uproarious laughter with just the tilt of her head. Her energy seems truly boundless as swaps between the large cast non-stop for the entire show!

The subject of the show, this fear of missing out, is at first ambiguous in its meaning – structurally, the performance feels like a journey through a labyrinth, each character unfolding a small portion of the greater picture. We are told (at various points) it is a patriarchal construct we conform to, or a fiction society forces on us and we believe is true, or the pressure of living a life constantly under scrutiny by others. The climax of the evening comes when Zoe McDonald herself (a hitherto unseen but ever present character in the goings on of Let’s Be Honest) appears and unveils how FOMO is formed of the simplest but deepest fears which affect us all: the fear of intimacy, the fear of failure, the fear of dying alone. McDonald’s true voice rings with such simplicity, truth and clarity that after the comedic mania of her characters it is akin to being bathed in cool cleansing water.

Presented as part of this year’s Melbourne Fringe festival and in collaboration with Bryce Ives and Present Tense, FOMO is a deeply engaging, rewarding, and unbelievably hilarious show!

Venue: Upstairs at Errol’s, 69 – 71 Errol St, North Melbourne

Dates:  20th September – 4th October

Time: 8pm (7pm Sundays)

Price: Full $23, Concession $18, Group (Min: 4) $15, Tuesdays $15

Tickets:, Ticketing Hotline: 03 9660 9666 or at the venue.