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Review: Life in Plastic at the Banquet Room

Christie Whelan Browne’s show “Life in Plastic” is a dazzling journey into the complexities of modern femininity, wrapped in a glossy, vibrant package. From the moment Whelan Browne bursts through the streamer curtains, she charms the audience with her magnetic presence, seamlessly blending comedy, music, and poignant storytelling.

Whelan Browne graces the stage adorned in a school dress, clutching a Barbie doll, and delving into tales of a blue light disco, all while sporting braces complete with headgear. Instantly, she embodies her teenage self, captivating the audience either through the relatability of her anecdotes or the sheer brilliance of her character portrayal.

Whelan Browne’s razor-sharp wit and comedic timing keep the audience roaring with laughter, but beneath the surface, there’s a profound exploration of societal pressures and personal identity. Through a series of vignettes and musical numbers, Browne delves into the highs and lows of womanhood, from navigating unrealistic beauty standards to grappling with the expectations of motherhood.

What sets Life in Plastic apart is Whelan Browne’s fearless honesty. She daringly confronts taboo subjects with a refreshing candor, inviting the audience to share in her triumphs and vulnerabilities. Whether she’s belting out a show-stopping ballad or delivering a razor-edged punchline, Whelan Browne’s authenticity shines through, creating an instant connection with her audience.

Life In Plastic commences with a satirical nod to the unrealistic standards set by Barbie, cleverly acknowledging the doll’s recent appropriation as a feminist symbol. Throughout the performance, Barbie remains a prominent figure, her voice seamlessly integrated through sound recordings orchestrated by the talented Kellie-Anne Kimber, who also graces the stage.

Yet, the narrative swiftly transcends Barbie, delving into deeper explorations. Whelan Browne bravely dissects her relationship with her body, mind, and the external world, particularly touching upon themes of fertility and the #MeToo Movement. It’s undeniably personal.

Whelan Browne’s performance is a rollercoaster of emotions, oscillating from tender to uproarious, from sincere to magnetic. She effortlessly entertains and touches the audience with her authenticity, exuding both ease and vulnerability, forging a connection that makes each spectator feel intimately acquainted with her. Her vocal prowess shines, especially in renditions of classics like “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and “Material Girl”.

The stage is adorned with glimmering streamers cascading from ceiling to floor, reminiscent of the decorative trends of the late ’90s and early 2000s, perfectly encapsulating Whelan Browne’s schoolgirl era.

Life In Plastic is enriched with artifacts from Whelan Browne’s own life, imbued with genuine sentiment: childhood dance performances captured on video, home movie compilations, glimpses of her son. Paired with Sheridan Harbridge’s sharp and witty script, laden with nostalgic references to icons like Dolly Doctor, Roaccutane, and MySpace, the show provides ample fodder for the audience to latch onto and reminisce.

Under Harbridge’s direction, the production maintains an impeccable pace, building towards a poignant discussion on infertility. Balancing humour with heartache, Whelan Browne delicately shares her own struggles, culminating in the reading of raw diary entries penned during her fertility journey.

The show culminates with Whelan Browne donning a dinosaur costume, a playful nod to her dance class days, alongside inflatable props and the ultimate femme anthem: Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!”. It’s a jubilant celebration of sisterhood, female empowerment, and the unabashed right to revel without judgment.

With its infectious energy and powerful message, Life in Plastic is a must-see that will leave you laughing, crying, and cheering for more.

4.5 Stars


Lia Loves.


Lia Loves
Lia Loves
Theatre. Dance. Culture. Events. Follow her adventures as Adelaide's premier theatre buff, arts contributor, educator and ambassador!

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