It is an age-old question without a satisfying answer. What constitutes art? That is the starting point for a coming-of-age tale about a 24-year-old artist who is trying to find her voice. To that end, James (Anna Kaleeda) – as she is known – wants to be exhibited. She and an old school friend (Finn McGrath) attend a gallery, to which she has put a proposal.
It is the opening of the gallery’s latest exhibition, which – to the naked eye – appears to constitute just a single painting. And yet the curator (Ian Ferrington) is fulsome in his praise and the artist (Hayley Browne) who gives the welcoming address is mighty proud of her efforts. In fact, she highlights that it took her a year just to come up with the theme.
The trouble is that James’ concept is all but identical and, as a result, she fears the worst. In fact, the question of originality is central to the play. James’ friend – who is studying a double degree and earns significantly more than her, much to her chagrin – hauls her off to a Hot 100 party. His carrot is that a girl James met yesterday – and was keen on – will be there. The two women hit it off, but James’ relationship history is hardly encouraging.
One party leads to another, the second the domain of raucous footy players. It is there that James is given relationship advice by a male of the same name (Josh Blake), who appears to be driven by the music, more than anything else. Later, it is another guy (Paolo Bartolomei) who provides sage counsel, given that the female James is very much an overthinker.
I loved the introduction to All The Rest, which was written by Finn McGrath. I don’t want to spell it out in detail for fear of spoiling the delightful surprise. Suffice to say, it was a short art tour with a difference and involved entering the theatre in small groups. Thereafter, the cut and thrust of the play began encouragingly, as James and her friend entered the gallery.
I understand, appreciate and applaud the theme of a young woman trying to find herself and, in this case, the angst that accompanies it. Much happens and her life is a roller coaster. Part of that manifests itself in frustration and leads her to question herself. There are some bold, belligerent and corker scenes. For instance, James and her friend taking an Uber ride to the first party was hilarious.
Among the actors, the one that impressed me the most was the central player, Anna Kaleeda. I found her quite a natural performer. In fact, truth be told, all had their moments. Four of the six performers play multiple characters. Directed by Sabina Gerardi, All The Rest is a dramedy about the search for individuality in a world of cliches. It has sizzle and spark.
Seventy minutes without interval, it is playing at Theatre Works, as part of its Sooo Fresh Summer Fest, until 20th January, 2024.