Daisy Moon Was Born This Way – The perfect play in the perfect place at the perfect time. (Theatre Review)
Daisy Moon Was Born this Way
Jopuka Productions at The Launch Pad.
8 February – 21 February 2020. You can grab your tickets here.
Please note: I attended this production as a full paying ticket holder in order to relay a complete audience member experience. I did not receive any gratuity from a publicist or a production company.
Tackling the big themes has never been something Jopuka productions has been afraid of, however with Emily Sheehan’s Daisy Moon was Born This Way the super cool indie theatre company have found a natural partner for their creative courage. With a packed 2020 schedule, their first production, elegantly set up in the round at The Launch Pad, takes a typical coming of age narrative to introduce us to a young Australian girl who seeks to be anything but typical. Desperate to escape her very normal life in Batemans Bay, Daisy Moon (Tara Soanes on the night I saw it) escapes into the world of Lady Gaga upon whom she desperately relies for mature wisdom and advice.
Which is turns out, Daisy gets little of in her life. She may be seeking individuality by dipping into the sequin filled world of a Little Monster, but as we learn, Daisy’s life is anything but typical. Or is it? True to what it means to be a young person in the age of Greta Thunberg, the young people in Emily Sheehan’s world are forced to face and deal with the most complicated issues. Characters actions represent enormous problems such as the impact of globalization, the opioid epidemic, steroid use, hate crime and other LGBTIQ issues, economic concerns v’s environmental concerns, drugs in sport, the economic divide, the breakdown of the family unit, children of depressed parents and disability as a result of depression. If this seems like a lot for a fourteen-year-old to handle, it is worth noting Emily Sheehan’s writing absorbs these enormities seamlessly in a pop cultural dedication to the modern teenager. For young people, the play presents as a relief to see themselves properly represented on stage. For the rest of us, Daisy Moon Was Born This Way shines a light upon the very real complexities associated with the terrain our teenagers are forced to traverse. Any wonder they are turning to high impact activism?
However, the treatment of all these subjects somehow naturally includes an imbued lightness that allows for joie de vivre to exist in the teens varied worlds. If teenagers have had their futures stolen from them due to impending environmental and economic concerns, they have been gifted the opportunity to see the good around them. Emily Sheehan strengthens her multiple points with intelligent comedy and beautifully written characterisations that give a young actor the opportunity to showcase the hard work and talent required to pull off a well written serious play. In the case of Jopuka’s presentation of Daisy Moon Was Born This Way, this falls on the capable shoulders of Director Elyse Hayhurst and Assistant director Tayla Glason as they are mentored and supported by Joshua Maxwell. Elyse Hayhurst directs two concurrent casts which doubles the reach and opportunity for experience for the actors, but equally increases her creative management from organising a cast of six to ten successfully. On a simple yet evocative stage, Elyse Hayhurst calls forth exciting performances and a level of professionalism that keeps the taut exciting play filled with energy and a joy that is very successfully conveyed to the audience.
I saw the opening night of what is referred to as the Art Pop performance (the other is the Alejandro production) and it was a real treat. Stand out Tara Soanes presents a Daisy with a frenetic energy that offers an intellectual approach to the complex role. Once confronted with the hate of the world, Tara Soanes tempers her Daisy with a gentle transformation that is highly convincing and endearing to watch. Our feelings for Daisy are amplified in this performance and we are left with a connection that feels more real than theatrical. It’s a disarming journey that leaves a lasting impression. Equally Jess Carter as Parker presents her character with a stillness born of life experience that posits well against the childish frenzy of Tara Soanes’ Daisy. The pair offer believable opposites and the chemistry between them develops in a convincing way. These are a pair of powerhouse performances that successfully display the wit behind their development.
At the same time, the pairing of Lachlan Knight as Noah and Daniel Geroge as Jimmy convinces with a toying with masculinity each actor successfully relays. The troubles of mature boys seeking to find their way to being men sits on the surface with these two robust performances and the moral vacillating inherent in that stage of life is carefully and fully developed by each actor. The strength of Emily Sheehan’s writing is not lost on the two young male players. They successfully take advantage of the compound character each plays to produce well rounded convincing performances.
A highlight of the production I saw is the superb drag performance of Zac Cunynghame as Gaga. Performed with an outrageous joy that never impacts his professionalism Zac Cunynghame embodies the kind of young person one feels intuitively sure Gaga seeks to manifest and endorse. In a clear meta performance that comes across as the Little Monster portraying Gaga portraying the Little Monster, Zac Cunynghame fills the room with so much warmth when he comes on stage we feel genuinely that the best of Gaga is there and we lose her when he leaves.
With charming satellite and support work from Rhianna Leigh and Paige Steele, this performance of Daisy Moon Was Born This Way becomes a profoundly joyful endorsement of what it means to be a teenager in a coastal town in Australia in 2020. With enchanting lightness, we are drawn intimately into the world of these kids, who look very much like the any kid we know on the Central Coast right now. This fact alone makes Daisy Moon Was Born This Way a natural choice for everyone who has a teenager or knows a teenager on the Central Coast to make your way to The Launch Pad and have a superb night of indie theatre which will draw you closer to the teens in your world. Make sure you go a little early and grab a soft drink at their counter, as the space is a joyful place to recharge your world-weary batteries.