A terrific hoot
by Rachel Holkner
Backwards is the result of a collaboration with students at Brunswick East Primary School and my burning question is, when they come to see the show, which parts do they recognise as their own? Is it the characters? Are there anecdotes they told Emily Taylor that have made their way into the script? Perhaps it is the huge variety of physicalities and tics of the people she portrays. It is simply impossible to tell as Taylor owns it all and is fully committed to her every moment on stage.
Written and performed by Emily Taylor, Backwards is an exploration of childhood and the relationships between adults and children. But it’s not your traditional standup, it’s a one woman minimalist play. With a set made up of only the world’s ugliest kitchen chair, and with the ingenious sound design of Gus MacMillan, Taylor is able to convey half a dozen unique interior and exterior locations.
Her ten characters are people you have met. Possibly you will relate to one or two of them! (I may have…) Across a wide range of ages and backgrounds these are ordinary people turned up to maximum, stepping occasionally over into caricature. Taylor loves these characters, she shows no favouritism and as she scuttles, turns and twists between each one you quickly forget there is only one person on stage. Her performance is, as always, tight and consistent. She has a mastery of switching characters, and in keeping them clearly delineated without props, masks or costume changes.
My favourite moments were those when characters revealed their true nature to other characters leading to unexpected moments of connection. There are plenty of uproarious and outrageous moments interspersed with thoughtful pokes at the trappings and trials of modern life.
Backwards is clever and hilarious and although not really written for children, the one upper primary school aged child in the audience definitely expressed that he thought the whole thing was a terrific hoot.
Venue: Northcote Town Hall (Studio Two), 189 High St, Northcote
Season: Until April 18, Tues – Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm