Review of Playing Pretend by Elise Lawrence

It's exhausting trying to keep a dream alive. The Big Crew present a post-art-school existential crisis that is painfully relatable for most of us with Arts degrees. 

Review of May 12 performance, by Elise Lawrence

The Big Crew will perform Playing Pretend at Woolloongabba Substation on May 10-12. Read more and book tickets on the event page.

It’s exhausting trying to keep a dream alive. The Big Crew present a post-art-school existential crisis that is painfully relatable for most of us with Arts degrees.

Billing itself as the diary of an unaccomplished actor, Playing Pretend comprised a series of personal monologues and short scenes with a cast of four, exploring the trials and triumphs of aspiring to an acting career (although many of those explored in the show could apply to anyone pursuing a creative career).

The performance addressed a range of issues – from the difficulties of getting an industry job and making ends meet to the rejection, insecurity, and uncertainty that can be part and parcel of a career in the arts – with cynicism and self-deprecating humour, and a few poignant moments sprinkled throughout.

Some of the monologues veered into discussion of queerness and feminism – certainly valid considerations in trying to maintain artistic and personal integrity while building a creative career – but also gripes about mundane day jobs and musings on celebrities, which ultimately distracted from the key themes and storyline.

The show was billed as relating specifically to “Brisbane Indie Theatre”, but beyond the mention of local universities there was little said about the specific struggle of breaking in to the Brisbane acting scene. However, the cast obviously had significant personal investment in the stories being told, and despite a few minor line slips they performed with passion and focus, creating a strong stage presence. The sound and lighting design were also excellent, and created smooth transitions between scenes.

Ultimately, Playing Pretend was a cynically funny, occasionally absurd piece of theatre about the hard work that goes into chasing a dream, and the compromises and course adjustments that are made along the way.

Please note: this show is rated 15+.