Image by Fringe Festival Perth
Reviewed by Kaelin Abrahams
Ella Randle’s 28 Grams is a poignant, intimate, yet humorous exploration of a young woman’s seemingly difficult journey in accepting herself and the life she lives.
Utilising her incredibly versatile acting skills, Randall juxtaposes the small theatre environment with that of her intimate storytelling. Successfully creating an environment akin to a friend who is dying to tell you a story. Using minimal props, instead, relying more on the superb sound design provided by her partner – Randle is in her element. Transforming this single person play into a living, breathing experience that I was fortunate to be a part of.
Set in a contemporary setting throughout, the very first scene was a highlight of what was to come. The protagonist Grace, played by Randall, is situated in a party where she feels everything around her is either a satirical joke that she wasn’t a part of, or a bumbling excuse towards creating something truly regretful. She is humoured at the nonsensical propositions made to her, resigned to the fate of her friend missing elsewhere, and impassioned upon the eventual realisation that she could make an impact on someone who’d been a dick to her and her best friend. She is powerless, but nonetheless, a key player in it all.
This followed into adventures with her mates and eventually the exposé into her own struggles. As a 20-something year old, the realism of her culture could be felt, along with the unbridled honesty seen in her life. The unpredictable journeys and mental health rollercoasters is likened to a surfer, traversing whatever wave they can with no control over its power or fury.
Grace eventually opens up in telling us about the body imagery issues she is living through. Sensitively, Randall uses her storytelling to give a real insight into the all-consuming, and insidious longing created by anorexia nervosa. We all know of the mental and emotional pain created by our society’s problematic body image ideals and how endemic they can be. Randall is succinct and insightful in emphasising this effect on Grace and the powerlessness she feels as she falls unconsciously into self-hate and denial.
A key theme of 28 Grams is accepting the unexpected and finding peace in the apparent chaos of everyday life. It also delves into the unseen struggles anyone, and everyone may have, while still emphasising the unique characteristics of each journey. Grace is every bit as real as I am, and her coming-of-age story was a delight to watch.
An otherwise 45-minute play felt like 10 minutes, and it is exciting to see where Ella Randall takes her work next.