Image Description: The poster for ‘For Real’. From left to right, Grace Armstrong, Carlin Shelton, El Finnie, Maxi Ford, Kristina Lang, and Esha Jessy, all with expressions of joy and happiness.
By Mercedes Blackburn
For Real is a lively new musical from the University Dramatic Society, following Gillian Russell working for her absolute favourite evil cooperation, Mallorey, alongside a slew of quirky co-workers and her imaginary friends. The story asks plenty of important questions about the ethics of capitalist consumption, growing up and, dare I say, holding hands. To survive the day to day hell of working a retail job, she finds comfort in her imagination guided by her idol, Alisa, and the superhero, Sabrewoman. Director Julia Schwab has skilfully delivered a successful display of comedy with a healthy dose of genuine heart.
The show features an impressive score done by Yarra Arnes and Daniel Watts, that saw several people bopping along during even the opening orchestrations that accurately foreshadowed the thoroughly enjoyable show. A standout song is hard to pick as many of the tracks left their impression, although I must say Evil Corporation is a wonderful earworm. The choreography was remarkable, with everyone stepping in time in their plethora of Doc Martens. The story, while simplistic, is heightened by the comedy and the heart-warming characters as well as the criticism of real world celebrity and corporate culture.
The whole cast brings their all, with most everyone earning a laugh or two in their own right. The star of the show, Maxi Ford, was a highlight as she brought plenty charm and life to the endlessly cheerful yet naïve Gillian and perfectly captured the manic energy of her trite optimism. El Finnie is an excellent character foil as Martin. His dry wit and corporate mandated exhaustion providing a needed respite from Gillian’s bubbly nature. I would, of course, be amiss to not mention Tom Carew-Hopkins as Sidekick Rick stealing the show every time he’s onstage, grinning wide and making painfully consistent eye-contact.
Molly Holohan and Aurora Goga’s set design is simple yet effective, itself getting a chuckle throughout. The costumes from Izzy Stonehouse and Ellen Beard are perfect for all the characters and excel the ensemble dance numbers, especially during the plaid sequence with its family-friendly image.
While the show asks questions about the existentialism of reality and the risks of indulging in fantasy, it never brings you down with the misery of our capitalist hell scape, instead giving you a reason to laugh for a few hours. For any fans of musical theatre or Marxism, the show is certainly worth seeing.
★★★★★ White Boys of the Month out of 5.
Tickets are sold out for this show, but UDS will be putting on another production in the upcoming weeks.
Note: Current Pelican Co-editor, Bayley Horne, is a part of this production but had no influence on the way that the review was written.