Theatre Review: Jane from H.R. is hosting her first Gumtree Orgy, and we’re all invited!

Anywhere Festival is in full swing in the River City and while theatre fans are hopping from one curious venue to another, Jane from H.R. is hosting her first orgy at the Metropolitan Motor Inn in Brisbane’s Spring Hill. Presented by Lady Beard & Co., Gumtree Orgy is both wickedly funny and heart-achingly timely, as Jane navigates not only her first orgy (don’t worry, she brought chips and wine!), but the breakdown of her long term relationship, and a looming assault case that could make or break her career.

It’s fair to say that Gumtree Orgy doesn’t necessarily go where you’re expecting, with the brilliant opening scenes featuring an abundance of sex toys soon giving way to something a little more sinister. But the twist on this good ol’ fashioned orgy-based tale taps right into the #MeToo culture, with a core narrative that’s more about consent and cover-ups than it is about sexual liberation, and with an arc for our flawed heroine that’s as raunchy as it is redemptive.

The script, created by Lady Beard & Co. founders Emily Coleman and Georgia Struckel, is strong and insightful, and with audience members invited to move through the hotel room at their leisure, there’s a really authentic sense of voyeurism captured throughout. If there’s any complaints to be made, the short running time does mean it ramps  up the intensity from 1 to 100 a little too quickly, but given that we’re hanging out at an orgy, subtlety likely isn’t on the menu.

The performances from Struckel and Michael J. Lawless as orgy organiser Jane and all round creep Jerry respectively are fantastic. Struckel brings nuance and vulnerability to her role as a woman who’s business in the streets, but desperate to be a freak in the sheets, while Lawless’ turn as her predatory boss left the audience’s skin collectively crawling.

The key feature of Anywhere Festival, aside from its proclivity for unusual locations (I’m not sure how to explain that I spent my Monday night with fifteen strangers in a motel room), is its embracing of amateur talent. It’s a testing ground for new work, a springboard for the up and coming, and Gumtree Orgy is a perfect fit for that. With a few more resources put into the hands of the already capable Lady Beard & Co. crew, there’s scope here for something hugely important.

But don’t wait – get in there now! Sign your contract, grab some protection, and open up the salt and vinegar Smiths, because Gumtree Orgy only has a few days left of its festival run.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Gumtree Orgy dates: 15th May (6.30pm/8pm) and 16th May (6.30pm/8pm)
Limited capacity of 16 per show.
More info and tickets here.

Reviewer attended performance on May 13th at 8pm.

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Jodie Sloan

Rogue academic, philosophical sloven, and earnest scribbler. Likes: Stiff drinks, good books, and the musical stylings of Frank Sinatra. Also likes: Pop culture, feminism, and excessive use of CAPSLOCK.