AUNTY has transformed the Basement Theatre into the classic family BBQ, and everyone’s invited. The boisterous host is everybody’s favourite Aunty, and the audience are her family. Barbeques like this are almost always outrageous affairs, and Johanna Cosgrove’s award winning solo performance channels this outrageousness into an hour of genuine entertainment.
Instead of following a plot, the show consists almost entirely of a conversation between AUNTY and her family, and as such, the audience are often expected to speak when spoken to. Shows like this can often go wrong in one of two ways. If the scripted nature of the conversation is too apparent, it doesn’t feel like the actor is engaging with the audience, but simply talking to themselves. On the other hand, if the conversation doesn’t flow, it becomes a series of isolated jokes and resembles stand-up comedy more than theater. AUNTY manages to avoid both pitfalls. The direction of AUNTY’s conversation feels natural, and Cosgrove takes the time to play off of any reactions or comments made by the audience. Some of the funniest moments of the play were created by Cosgrove having to respond to an audience member unexpectedly chipping in.
Such contributions from the audience are encouraged, and it is unlikely that any audience member will escape without some form of participation in the show. Plates of food are passed around, and at one point half the audience got on stage to dance to one of AUNTY’s favourite songs.
If you’re looking for drama, tension, or a show where you can just sit back and watch, then AUNTY likely isn’t for you, but if you’re keen to engage with an energetic and hilarious character, then you should absolutely accept AUNTY’s invitation.
AUNTY is playing at the Basement Theatre until the 16th of September. Tickets are available for purchase here.