- Lee Bemrose
The UK's Juliette Burton is returning to Australia, and if you've seen any of her previous shows you'll know that this is good news for those with an appreciation of warm-hearted comedy. She is bringing her new show, Decision Time, to the 2017 Adelaide Fringe. The show had a sell-out season at the Edinburgh Fringe – no that's right, the entire season – so you know we're in for something pretty special. Australian Stage's Lee Bemrose caught up with this indefatigable and inspirational writer and performer to find out what to expect from Decision Time.
You were last here for your show Look At Me. What are your thoughts and memories of last year's Adelaide Fringe?
In total honesty (because that’s what I’m into) last year’s Adelaide Fringe was one of my favourite months of my entire life. And no! I’m not exaggerating, or drunk whilst typing this! I remember glorious heat, flyering/spruiking for eight hours a day, swollen feet as a result of the previous two memories. Moreover I have happy memories of meeting some amazing individuals at my shows, relaxing in the Gluttony gardens afterwards with said individuals, eating sushi for breakfast every morning and eating on Rundle Street with chilled wine every evening. I can’t wait to get back to amazing coffee, amazing wine, refreshing Moscato everywhere. And my best memories of all; Selling out shows on my final weekend. And my all-time most memorable show EVER – my very final show. That show was almost an out of body experience! Receiving a standing ovation from the entire crowd at the end was just incredible…
Thinking about it all now, I’m getting excited! I can’t wait for more of all of the above this year. Apart from the swollen feet. Any tips on how to avoid that?
How does Adelaide Fringe compare to other festivals such as Edinburgh Fringe?
Apart from the obvious differences such as hot weather, better wine, more drinking outdoors… Adelaide and Edinburgh are very similar – both have passionate audiences excited to try new experiences and engage with live comedy and theatre. On paper Edinburgh has more shows, but it feels just as busy in Adelaide in the “fringe” areas.
The decision to perform at Edinburgh Fringe for the first time back in 2011 changed my life and I explain why in this new show. Edinburgh is my home turf, literally – I lived there and loved it. But Adelaide is catching up! I love returning this time knowing where to go for great food, a quiet drink alone, a decent juice or a massage that will sort me right out. But the decision to come to Adelaide in the first time back in 2014 also features in the show because something ridiculous and hilarious happened back then which is one of my favourite stories to share on stage now. Heat, happiness and hilarity; Adelaide is fast becoming a home away from home for me. Australia calls me back… And I can’t wait.
How has life been treating you back in the UK?
Apart from the major shifts politically across the globe which have happened since I was last in Adelaide (Some rather HUGE decisions have been made, haven’t there?!), life has been busy. Since leaving Adelaide last March I toured in New Zealand at the comedy festival there, I’ve had articles published in Cosmopolitan magazine, I sold out every day at Edinburgh Fringe and I have watched every episode of Game of Thrones, Fleabag and BoJack Horseman. I’m now on the third series of Breaking Bad. Oh! And I’m also writing my next show for Edinburgh Fringe this year and hopefully it might come to Adelaide in 2018, fingers crossed. Each show of mine seems to get increasingly honest, like I’m unravelling. So I guess to answer your question “how has life been?” come see each of my shows!
Do you take much time out between projects or do you pretty well emerge from one and throw yourself into the next one?
I’ve tried to take time out but I can never do it. I don’t like doing it. I have too many ideas. I need to do something with them. I need to get it out of me. And I need to feel purposeful and I need to connect with others. I feel like I do that through shows better than just talking to people. See? Told you I was getting more honest!
What can you tell us about the new show?
It’s a totally true life docu-comedy (documentary mixed with comedy) about whether one choice can change a life. I have a genuinely huge life decision to make in my life right now and I’m terrible at making decisions! I can’t even decide what to wear in the morning without having a mini-breakdown. And this is one of the biggest decisions I will ever have to make. I don’t know what to do! So I wrote a show about it! That is definitely NOT putting off making the decision. No sir! No ma’am! Nope! Anyway…
The show sold out every single day at Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 which I was blown away by. That’s a full house every day for 26 shows straight. The show received 4 and 5 star reviews in Edinburgh, passionate audience tweets which mean the world to me (so thank you if you tweet about the show!). If you want to see some of them just check out this page. And it talks openly about living, loving and laughing with mental health too – I researched the show with UK mental health charities Mind and ReThink and in Adelaide I’ll have leaflets from the Australian charity SANE on offer to anyone who wants them.
If you like strong women, openness, talking about difficult things, laughing about difficult things and feeling like a part of an awesome communities of weirdos who all know what I mean when I say “F*ck off I’m a blanket!” then come see the show.
If you’re short on time why not take just 60 seconds to watch the trailer here?
When did you realise that this idea would be your next show?
Back in summer 2015. That was the first year I sold out at Edinburgh Fringe with the show I performed in Adelaide last year. It was also the summer I was asked to make this HUGE life-changing decision. I talked it over with friends and they were all “y’know, I’d see you talk about this for an hour on stage” and I thought “What a great way to put off making the decision… and connecting with people on a deeper artistic level too of course!”
As with all my shows I use multimedia; animation, video, projections. In August 2015 I interviewed loads of performer friends from the UK and Australia about their biggest and easiest decisions. That video plays right at the very start of the show so get there early to enjoy all the hours of effort put into that! Plus last year’s Adelaide Fringe guide stars in the show before the show even begins! Get to the front of the queue to enjoy the pre-show show and see what the hell I’m talking about… And maybe you could be the one audience member who actually appreciates all the hours of filming, editing, re-editing that went into that!
You must be pretty happy with how well it did at The Edinburgh Fringe?
Pretty happy?! I’m overwhelmed by how well it did! We sold 99% of all our ticket sales and looking back I can barely believe it. We’d sell out hours in advance. I didn’t know what to do with myself! So I’d carry on chatting to people to ask them to come the next day!
I’d be overjoyed if we could have that kind of connection with audiences in Adelaide. I find audiences in Adelaide are really open-minded and enthusiastic, more vocal and invested than anywhere else. I sold out my last weekend shows in Adelaide last year. This year I’d love to see if we can get more of that earlier on!
As well as being very funny, your shows that I have seen have had an incredible human warmth at their heart. Same deal this time around?
Firstly, thank you so much for the compliment! That’s exactly what I set out to do. Thank you for noticing, I owe you a drink. Mine’s a moscato. So a bottle of moscato for the two of us it is then?
In all seriousness (which is a weird thing to say as a comedy performer) if you’ve ever struggled with a big life choice, little decisions or just struggled with being alive in general, this is the show for you. If you don’t like fitting into other people’s boxes (innuendo unintended but appreciated) and if you want to celebrate just being wonderfully weird, this is the show for you. If you’ve ever wondered whether your life could’ve turned out differently, this is the show for you. If you want to have a laugh, feel a bit and have a drink with me afterwards, I’m the girl for you to seek out!
You've made me tear up a little at the previous shows. You going to do that to me again this time?
Aw! U ok hon? Dear sir, why don’t you come to see the show to find out! But bring your tissues just in case.
In this show, I don’t hold back. Some decisions I have made in my life have been more important than any others. Some audience members have cried…but they were laughing soon after. One person tweeted afterwards to say “140 is not enough to describe all the laughs, the tears, the feelz” which I take as a big compliment. I think audiences nowadays like to feel things at comedy shows. That’s life, right? It’s not all laughs. The lows only help to make the highs all the more fun.
If you’re hesitant I can reassure you, there will be free hugs after the show. And a picture of a cute puppy too.
It sounds pretty personal in nature, as with some of your previous shows. How do you feel about exposing so much of yourself to your audiences?
When you say that I think about naked people. Is that what you meant? Because it’s not that kind of show. Although I think there are shows like that at the Fringe if that’s your thing. In my show I stay fully clothed. In Edinburgh I wore jeans, but I think I’ll struggle with heat exhaustion wearing them in Adelaide so I plan to wear skirts. But in Gluttony I’ll be on a raised stage so if you’re in the front row; be warned! You may see more of me than you paid for.
This show, all my shows, are really personal. This may sound a bit fanciful but why else create art? I really want to connect with people so I like to be honest. But I also like to have fun along the way! This show is probably my favourite one to perform because I get to muck about more. I can’t wait to bring all the enthusiasm, truthfulness and silliness to Adelaide for all you enthusiastic, excitable, fun-loving audiences. And please, get there early to get yourselves a drink, get me a drink, that’s very kind of you to offer, thank you. Get yourself, your drink and mine to the front row so I can high five you, or hug you, and let’s have a laugh – and a feel (not that kind of feel!) – together.
Juliette Burton's Decision Time is playing the Adelaide Fringe Festival from Feb 17 – Mar 5 2017. Further details»