By Myron My
Emily Taylor is one of those performers you can watch on stage for hours. Her skillful storytelling and authentic characters are captivating, to say the least, and ensure her performances will leave you feeling more connected to yourself and questioning what you value in life in ways you wouldn’t expect. Performed as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, The Thick Of It is Taylor’s newest show and it is one not to be missed.
We begin with Taylor – acting as more herself than one of her overt “characters” – having recently moved into a new apartment on her own and being excited over the prospects this brings. She has choices and options now: she can watch Netflix all day or go play with puppies, so many choices indeed.
It is then Taylor begins to slowly introduce the other inhabitants of The Thick Of It and her nuanced story-telling skills begin to surface. Taylor has fewer characters than previous shows, which allows us to learn more about them and gain a deeper insight into what makes them tick. These include Miles; an elderly man who wishes his neighbour would stop leaving home-cooked meals for him outside his front door, and Kyra; an obnoxiously loud, successful realtor who thinks she’s the life of the party (when she’s just obnoxiously loud).
Through these stories, a running theme gradually emerges: loneliness. All these people are experiencing loneliness in its various guises. They are all looking for – or yearning for – that connection to another. At one point, with Taylor playing the “straight” character from the opening moments, you almost see parts of the other characters coming through for just the briefest of moments. Whether this is intentional or something imagined, it reminds me that we are all the same, that despite our outward difference, we ultimately all want the same thing in life and that is to love and to be loved.
Comedy doesn’t always have to be shtick and gags: it can also be intelligent, moving, and make you think, and Taylor is highly adept at creating such sophisticated shows. The stories may not be nicely wrapped up in the end, but then neither is real life. In one regard, it’s nicer to leave The Thick Of It with our own endings for these characters we’ve come to know and appreciate: hopefully ones where everything turns out for the better.