Prior to seeing the performance for myself I thought: Awesome Ocean Party is the worst name of any show in the whole festival. The whole thing rings false, it feels like it’s trying too hard, it sounds like a children’s show that doesn’t know what market it’s geared towards. But now that I’ve seen the performance—now that I’ve sat by the Musgrave Park pool with my eyes watering, I understand. I understand that the name makes sense in the context of the show, in context of the character that carries this one-woman show—the half-human, half-octopus, all birthday girl played by Giema Contini. From pretty early-on in the play it seems clear that it was our lovely host who gave the show its name.
And it fits her character perfectly. Anxious, unsure, messy. Desperate to be interesting for the sake of upholding some kind of defence. But any more on her character would ruin the play—so you’re gonna have to go see Awesome Ocean Party to figure out what I mean, but for now I’ll move on.
Last night I rocked up at the pool and thought—hey, this isn’t very awesome at all. This is glum, so close to vibrant but not quite, and it really doesn’t smell so great.
Everything about the physical location of the show fits its themes—everything about the empty children’s pool emanates the same energy as the show itself. The cheap globes that light the bar, the half-lit brazier, the glum aqua lighting. All of it screams of something almost outstanding—but something that is also not quite so. I took my seat and tossed a beach towel over myself in the cold, and I waited for the show to begin.
And then the music came up, the actor came out, and everything kicked off.
What’s most stunning perhaps is just how Giema controls the space. It’s a big space for a one-person show, and her character was quite timid, yet also she brought with her as an actress a physicality that for the most part held my attention. Sure, the pool’s under a flight path, and the Greek Club had something loud going on, and there were moments where I was stolen entirely from the show’s power by the noise all around—but those were factors beyond anyone’s control.
What matters is that when all was still, and all was quiet, and the space was able to just be a space, everything was perfect. The intricacy of the lighting, the tepid colours, the beautiful tragedy on-stage—this is a gorgeous show, a surprisingly full-on show, and a warm experience of the cool ocean blues that I cannot recommend highly enough.