28 August 2014

Last chance: The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit: A Cabaret Fairytale for Grown Ups
28 August 2014
MUST Theatre, Monash University
to 30 August
Facebook event

Even though The Velveteen Rabbit runs until Saturday, you probably can't see it because it sold out a couple days ago. There might be the odd ticket if you're lucky (or know who to ask), but if you have one for the weekend you can safely be excited. It's gorgeous and loving and you should take a tissue.

Margaret Williams's 1922 children's story The Velveteen Rabbit IS the most lovely story ever written. If you somehow haven't cried while reading this book to yourself or to children, hold off because the cast tell it – and the only thing better than reading a story is having it read to you.

The cabaret show isn't the story of the book, but its story of becoming real and being loved form the base of the work. Directed by first-timer Mama Alto, the cast of 16 (plus their very close production and musical team) Monash uni students tell their stories of being loved and rejected and of finding their way to being their real and confident selves.

And if being a young adult at university isn't about finding out who you are and what you want to be, then what's the point of being there?

(Cough, Christopher Pyne how dare you think that anyone supports the idea of uni becoming an impossible goal. When he was enjoying his free undergrad degree, I was doing one of my own at the same university. One where I hung out in the Drama dept, did plays and didn't care that I nearly failed English because doing plays taught me so much more. I think I can safely say that one of us is more rich, but the other is more interesting.)

Moving throughout the MUST space, the ensemble in personal combinations of gold, white, red and glitter move between two stages and around the room to surround the audience with their stories and love. There's singing, original and known music, and personal stories that are impossible not to relate to.

It's a bit long and some of them won't become professional performers, but it doesn't matter because it's all about ensuring that everyone gets their chance to share their story and support their friends. Of course there are stories that come from a teenage and young adult perspective that mellows as we get older. But let's never forget what it was like to feel heartbreak, loss and love for the first time. I sometimes with I could re-capture that intensity, then I remember what it felt like.

And the look I caught on the face of a 50ish dad when the rabbit gets left outside in garden was unforgettable. You're never too hold to care about a fictional toy.

Monash University Student Theatre gives students a freedom to create what they want to create. Sure, they're not creating work for a large and commercial audience, but if we look at names who are making their mark in our independent and professional stages, a lot of them come from Monash and spent their undergraduate years involved in MUST – if I begin to list names, I won't be forgiven for missing some; you know who you are – where they were able to experiment and make mistakes and find the way to their unique theatrical voices.

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