New to Fringe is theatre company All The Ways, a small and unassuming group of young performers who are here to share an exploration of love through different mediums, perspectives and voices. This quartet blends music, poetry, theatre and video footage to present a multifaceted experience for a modern audience. This performance, All the Ways to Tell You, calls into question how we show our love for one another, be it our sister, our pet fish, or a KFC wicked wing. There are many ways to love…
Located in studio space After Dark in Perth city, the cosy, intimate black box theatre sets the tone for tonight’s show. “Theatre” might be stretching it, as this space has nooks and crannies filled with half-broken lamps, up-ended chairs, frayed ropes and all manner of knick-knacks. But it’s perfect for All The Ways, as they themselves are a mismatched, eclectic group of performers who demonstrate their shared connection through stories of love.
Co-creator Emily Burton welcomes in audience members, lulling a soft melody with her head bowed over her guitar. People are finding their way through the dimly lit room, settling on the mix-match of couches, chairs or cushions laid on the floor. I park myself on a large couch cushion, unsure if it is taken from the couch behind me, and take out my notebook and pen. The warm, low lights illuminate the room and I pray they don’t fade away as I haven’t the faintest idea how I am to write notes in complete darkness. The last of the audience shuffle their way inside and park themselves on the last remaining chairs. The show is about to begin.
Fellow performers Bec Weldon, Ella Thompson and Lachlan McNeil join Emily on stage and bright lights flick on. “What does love mean to you?” they chime. Behind them, a projector shows people of different ages, genders, hair colours and backgrounds speaking on their ideas of love. These personal stories of love are raw and the colourful experiences of the interviewees in the videos add depth to the discourse of love in this production.
There are times when the performance feels disjointed, like when the performers lay a rug down so close to my feet that I have to inch backwards to avoid being centimetres away from them as they sit. That’s a little too intimate, for me. There are also times when the performers’ voices don’t carry, which I shouldn’t be noticing in the front row. However, this certainly wasn’t the case for Bec Weldon.
Bec is the star of the show for me, and her co-direction of the company behind the scenes is clear to see through her presence and abilities on stage. She puts her heart and soul into her performance, and has a demonstrable acting ability that comes from years of practise, I have no doubt. Likewise, Emily’s command of her voice and guitar shone throughout the production and helped carry her performance to the next level.
The group’s dedication to championing diversity is another highlight. Family love, homosexual relationships, an unyielding devotion to KFC––seriously, this monologue was hilarious––are all equally important and all garner well-deserved attention in this piece. In an emotional rollercoaster of irrevocable love followed by piercing breakups, this kept the audience on their toes and speaks to the intersectionality a 2021 audience demands.
The use of miscellaneous props added flavour to All the Ways to Tell You, with fairy-lights in glass bottles, love letters, ladders and loud bike bells keeping the audience on their toes. The horn that Emily honks nearly gave me a heart attack.
The multi-faceted deliverance is ambitious but it works well for All The Ways. The cast gives boundless energy and conviction to their performance, making this piece one to remember. Grab some popcorn, find the comfiest chair and settle in for a night dedicated to rediscovering how to love. And more importantly, why love is essential now more than ever before.