“You are invited to an Awesome Ocean Party! Your half-human/half-octopus host invites you into the depths of her three hearts: a peculiar world where nothing is quite what it seems.” … From its blurb, “Awesome Ocean Party” sounds a little bit weird. In reality, it’s a whole lot of weird, but it a wonderful sort of strangeness that cannot but warm audience hearts on a cold ‘I can’t believe it’s not winter’ night.
The show is set within Musgrave Park pool (which has been drained for winter. The festoon is hung, the drinks are chilled and the ukulele is tuned. And the fairy-lit atmosphere is immediately inviting with its chaise lounges and custom pool edge seats. It’s an inspired use of space that reflects what is a highly-creative production.
Audiences gather around one of the shallow, children’s pools, which has been transformed into an octopus’ garden, where sole performer, Giema Contini, takes centre ‘stage’. Her unsure, insecure demeanour is immediately apparent, as she introduces herself in character and tells of her often obscure individual quirks. She’s half-human/half-octopus and it’s her birthday party, so there are presents, cake and even some quaint ukulele and recorder tunes and singalongs. With a Kimmy Schmidt kind of quirk, Contini is utterly engaging thanks to her original performance and spot-on timing, creating humour and suspense alike in the most minor of moments (who’d have thought blowing up a balloon could be so dramatic?)
There is a narrative of sorts, presented as a story within a story as the protagonist tells of amphibious legends of loss and longing, including the tale of her strange parentage. In this way, the show seems a lot like Motherboard Productions’ “지하 Underground”, without the aesthetic opulence or cast of characters that were seen in its 2014 WTF incantation. Perhaps this is also due to the original musical accompaniment from Nathan Stoneham (“지하 Underground”, and “The 떡볶이 [Dokboki] Box). Stoneham’s beautiful music serves as an entirely apt soundtrack, bringing a serenity to the simple, yet sensitive story.
“Awesome Ocean Party” is very much a festival sort of show, strangely intriguing and kind of odd, but ultimately a quite satisfying experience for audiences seeking something a little bit different and a whole lot of awesome fun.
This review is based on the reviewer’s experience of the opening night performance on May 14.
You can purchase your tickets to “Awesome Ocean Party” here.