That’s What She Said
The Good Room
Co-creators: Saffron Benner, Daniel Evans and Chloe Greaves
Directed by Daniel Evans
Sue Benner Theatre
Season: 11 – 15 February 2020. Event is sold out.
Change is scary but change is also inevitable. I was there the night just over 12 months ago when Creative Director and CEO of Metro Arts Jo Thomas announced her plans to sell the beloved 109 Edward Street. Let me tell you the tension in that room was palpable.
Thankfully Metro has found a new home in West End and has moved across the Brisbane River (which as any Brisbane person knows is a big deal). But before that can happen we need to say goodbye to the old dame that is 109 Edward Street.
Metro at 109 Edward Street has been the birthplace of many artists and artist collectives but one of the most successful of late is unquestionably The Good Room. Since premiering its first work I Should Have Drunk More Champagne at Metro in 2013, The Good Room has gone on to produce three sell-out shows at The Brisbane Festival and become one of Brisbane’s most highly regarded arts companies known for spectacular works based around anonymous audience submissions.
But The Good Room has returned to where it all began to say goodbye to 109 Edward Street in That’s What She Said.
That’s what She Said, which had its premiere this week as part of the Metro Arts, With Love Festival, will be the last ever show performed in The Sue Brenner Theatre.
What a work to go out on. Based on the anonymous submissions to a series of provocations about women That’s What She Said is a love letter.
Like all of The Good Room works That’s What She Said is a series of fragments held together by a backbone. In this case the backbone is a series of monologues about womanhood in all its forms, be it motherhood, sisterhood and/or female friendship. If this all sounds like some kind of preachy “I am Women, Hear Me Roar” girl power feminist lecture, let me assure you this show is not that. Well it comes pretty close at times but it smartly never crosses the line because it’s a show that has more on its mind.
It is also a show about change (climate or otherwise), it’s a show about hardship, about love, about forgiveness, about that the song you just can’t get out of your head. It’s a show about being human and for 51 percent of the population that also means being a woman. That might sound like a lot to cover in the ninety minute run time but thanks to the dramaturgical efforts of co-creator Saffron Benner the time flies by.
If it was just the message of the work I would be impressed in and of itself, but when it comes to the work of The Good Room I have also come to expect some insane visuals and thankfully That’s What She Said did not disappoint. Co-creator and Director Dan Evans alongside Co-creator and designer Chloe Greaves has transformed The Sue Brenner Theatre into a temple of hot pink, with its fuchsia colour Last-Supperesque table matched by giant drapes of similar hues covering the walls.
But of all the visuals its Jason Glenwright’s disarmingly complex lighting design that truly sings. In light or in darkness or the strobes in between, in many ways its Glenwright’s command of light that allows the audience to know exactly where to look and what we need to know at any given moment. This is crucial in a fragmented work such as this.
That being said The Good Room has a long history of producing amazing shows with insane visuals. So what makes That’s What She Said truly special? The answer is the huge cast. If it was just the all-female core ensemble made up of Margi Brown Ash, Stella Charrington, Andrea Moor, Keira Peirce, Ngoc Phan, Naomi Price, Leah Shelton and Emily Tomlins, I would be commenting on the insanity of this cast and the level of talent we have here. But add on top of that rotating series of guest cast including but not limited to Cienda McNamara, Bridget Boyle, Kerith Atkinson, Elise Grieg, Veronica Neave, Barb Lowing, Helen Cassidy, Angie Milliken and Merlynn Tong I can’t help but remark on deep bench of talent we have in Brisbane and how it is just so spectacular to see a bunch of super talented women performing together.
That’s What She Said is an amazing show in and of itself but as one of the last ever shows to be performed at 109 Edward Street it is nearly perfect. The only problem with it, it’s already sold out so I can’t go see it again and again.