Anyone who’s ever been to see a show with me knows I’m not easily impressed. I always want so much from a performance, and it’s a rare show that measures up.
I kind of don’t want to write any more about Subtext: Love Between the Lines, because I almost can’t find the words. At the same time, I’m bursting to tell you everything about it.
The show is performed at a suburban house in Coorparoo. The atmosphere when you arrive is just like Saturday night drinks (in fact, it is Saturday night drinks, as wine is available after a small donation). I went to the show alone so I fell into my usual role – wall flower. As mentioned, I expect a lot from every show I see, so I had high hopes but low expectations.
The show starts with the singers (Melissa Western and Craig Atkinson) appearing on the porch, singing down at us standing in the driveway. From the first time they open their mouths, a slow smile begins to spread across my face and I spend most of the show with my hands clasped gladly in front of it.
As they move down into the garden, we follow the singers up onto the porch and look down at them as they meet, flirt, marry, and argue, all to a beautiful selection of music. The collection of songs is funny, sincere, and clever. The flirting song (The Tennis Song) is filled with very clever double entendres (“I’m good for more than one set”), the argument song (Nobody’s Perfect) is witty and very well-performed with clever use of spacing (it is performed inside the kitchen while the audience looks in from outside), and the breakup song (Could I Leave You?) is passionate and heartfelt (“can I leave you? Yes. Will I leave you …”).
Actually, if I can have all of my arguments in song from now on, that’d be great.
I don’t know where the idea to stage the performance inside of a residential house came from, but it is very cleverly implemented. There are coloured lights and spotlights set up all around the grounds, the design for which must have been a pretty puzzle for someone, which illuminate the performers very efficiently. The action is almost all outside, so I recommend dressing warm, and ladies if you can leave your handbag in the car, do so. It’ll save your shoulder and also, space.
Space and viewpoint are the only minor negatives I have. I heard one of the organizers say that this was a particularly large group of people, and it did feel very cramped at times. It was also hard to find a good viewing point – I’m very tall and equally shy so I end up at the back of crowds and lines, and there were times I wasn’t able to see everything. On the other hand, the fact we were all so close together meant I could hear everyone’s opinions; and everyone I overheard said it was just magical.
In summary, Subtext: Love Between the Lines filled every musical theatre-loving, drama-seeking, Idina Menzel-worshipping part of me. I’ve also gone home with two of Melissa Western’s CDs, and if they ever release the entire show on CD (or iTunes, or cassette, or vinyl, I’m easy really), I’ll be buying that too.
Reviewed by Bec Newton