Judge not, that ye be not judged. Matt.7.  KJV
Theology is a sensitive topic, it can both bring people together and completely polarise them. Conversations regarding politics have a similar effect, and so in Key Conspirators collaboration with North of Eight’s production of Quite Drunk, Very Jesus-y the power combo of both religion and politics leads to a fiery display of differing opinions and tested friendships.
Four friends from Christian youth camp reunite for the 30th birthday of Agnes (Siobhan Connors) in a log cabin in the country where the wine is flowing and the conversation quickly becomes heated. Now grown, the four very different personalities and denominations quickly clash over each other’s life choices. Jessica Stanley is the effervescent hostess Beth, eager to please her friends with the “perfect weekend” at great personal and financial cost to herself. Stanley plays Beth with a manic energy, like a kettle ready to boil at any moment. Agnes is the sassy, self-assured artist, her brash and funny exterior giving way to vulnerability throughout the performance. Agnes’s gay BFF Justin, played by Gideon Wilonja is the cause behind much of the controversy between the group, with his “lifestyle” not being supported by Candace (Vivian Nguyen) who’s support of the “NO” vote in the marriage plebiscite is in direct opposition to Justin.
The play written by Grace De Morgan, which was developed as part of The Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship, and won Highly Commended at the Rodney Seaborn Award 2017 is a curious look at a subject I’ve not experienced before on stage. Youth groups, Christian sensibilities and responsibilities tend to go over my head, but at the core of this production is heart. The need for companionship, support and love from those who know you best, regardless of political, sexual or religious inclination.
As the night progresses and with the introduction of Simon (Pat Moonie), Beth’s smooth talking older brother, the stakes are raised and emotions run high as promises are broken and secrets are revealed. In a hypnotic final scene that distorts reality, the characters are heightened with an Alice in Wonderland type oddity. Stanley is particularly brilliant as she skulks around the stage, her eyes taking up most of it.
Apart from a few fumbles over lines, the production was strong, the writing clear and personal and performances engaging. A great start to the Melbourne Fringe Festival season, Quite Drunk, Very Jesus-y, raises questions about friendship, morality, and the choices we make and the choices we can live with.
Key Conspirators and North of Eight presents
Quite Drunk, Very Jesus-y
by Grace De Morgan
Director Peter Blackburn
Venue: Fringe Hub | Trades Hall, New Council Chambers | Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts Carlton VIC
Dates: 12 – 22 September 2019
Tickets: $25 – $30