Can we hide who we really are? For just how long can we keep in our passions and desires? Clare Cavanagh answers these questions and more in her Melbourne International Comedy Festival debut, Literally. In the remarkable one-woman show, the former Tonightly writer’s character-driven sketches all revolve around her expressive protagonists’ copes with caring too much and embracing how they truly feel.
The packed audience are introduced to the show’s first (and only recurring) character, a feisty all girl’s school captain who has a thirst for revolution and a knack for quoting pop lyrics to intensify her speech. Assigning the audience as her fellow students, Cavanagh immediately includes us into her work, addressing some audience members directly and pulling us into the scene with her skillful eye work. It was easy to be trapped as a part of her narrative thanks to the believability of her intense characters.
This was made clear on this particular night when she transitioned into a policeman and pulled an audience member on stage for interrogation. He seemed so invested into her show that his responses even surprised Cavanagh herself, throwing her off her a bit off her improv game. Though she soon recovered and proved just how smooth she could improvise her interactions with the audience into her show to the tickled delight of the crowd.
As the show went on her characters seemed to get more sprightly and fanatical, from the best man at a wedding who isn’t quite ready to let the groom leave him for the married life to the woman celebrating her 90th birthday by revealing the details of her secretive life to her family, Cavanagh made each one realised in themselves thanks to her talented facial expressions and the simple, yet effective, change in her voice.
Clare Cavanagh kept the audience captivated with her vibrant energy and the unpredictable but humourous motives written to each of her characters. Sensitive, passionate, optimistic and oblivious in their perseverance, her creations were all crafted to perfection and immediately beloved by the audience. With Literally being Cavanagh’s first Melbourne show, I am fascinated to see what other characters are brewing inside and hope the whole country get to see a lot more from this talented comedian in the years to come.
Clare Cavanagh’s Literally plays as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until 21 April 2019. For tickets or for more information, head to the MICF website.