The Melbourne Fringe Festival is over for another year, but the talent is the gift that keeps on giving. In the closing week of the festival, I was treated to the extraordinary writing of Keyanna Burgher and their gloriously funny play, Searching for Betty.
The autobiographical play tells the tale of Lenny (Georgia McAleer) who’s obsessively searching for a best friend to make her maid of honour. With the wedding guest list deadline looming, Lenny is desperate to find a friend that lives up to her mum’s bestie, Betty.
After a serious of disastrous bumble BFF dates, Lenny is forced to confront her friendship demons. Why is it after all these years she hasn’t found her “Betty”? Does “Betty” even exist, and is she losing her mind?
The manic energy of the character fills the space as Lenny begins to spiral. Hashing it out with an imaginary Betty, or who she perceives Betty to be played by Ruby Stewart, Lenny slowly begins to realise this idea of Betty, may be just that, an idea. Stewart plays a plethora of characters throughout the hour with clever stagecraft and costume changes that consistently break the fourth wall with their playfulness.
Both actors are incredibly genuine in their performance and find the nuances in the humour and pathos of the story, there’s even a killer musical number!
What’s more, is that under the camp and silly façade is the subtext of just how important female friendships are. The social expectation is to value romantic relationships more than that of our friends, which is echoed throughout the media. Searching for Betty flips the switch on this narrative, making the audience question why romantic love is our highest priority when platonic love can be just as fulfilling?
Searching for Betty is a beautifully constructed story, that was thoroughly entertaining and made me a little bit nostalgic for the myspace days when your top 8 friends were so carefully ranked. Shout out the set designer as well, the cosy bedroom was reminiscent of every teenage girl in the 2000s, and they absolutely nailed it.
2023 Melbourne Fringe Festival
Searching for Betty
by Keyanna Burgher
Director Keyanna Burgher
Venue: MC Showroom, Level 1, 50 Clifton St, Prahran VIC
Dates: 18 – 21 October 2023