By Elyce Phillips
Who We Were is a flashback to the ‘90s, packed with the kind of little details that are guaranteed to delight anyone who grew up in the age of MSN chat and My Chemical Romance. Written by and starring Caitlyn Staples, Jayden Masciulli and Tiana Hogben, it’s a cleverly composed compilation of sketch, storytelling and song.
The show centres around the stories of Amanda (Staples), Katie (Hogben) and Max (Masciulli) – three school mates who are struggling through their awkward teen years and hoping for better things to come. Using the device of a tape-recorded message, Who We Were threads through the storyline of each of the main characters, diverting off into sketches that skewer the specifics of the era. Each performer is given their moment to shine. Staples hams it up brilliantly as two henchmen in an underground Pokemon card trading ring. Masciulli was wonderful as a reluctant wizard who desperately wants to be a spy. Hogben’s presentation of a gloriously dark PowerPoint on her school holidays was absolutely inspired, from the sound effects to the overuse of clip art. The three performers work together beautifully, each bringing a distinct comedic energy and style.
The musical elements in the show were a particular highlight. A reworking of Avril Lavigne’s Complicated in which Staples and Hogben played bratty, entitled kids to Masciulli’s browbeaten mother was hilarious, as was a bright little ditty about childhood fortune-telling methods. The final number ended the show on a beautifully bittersweet note, the three kids reuniting as adults and looking back on their childhood with the clarity of hindsight.
Who We Were is a very funny effort from three fresh, young comedic minds. You’re likely to get the most out of the show if you grew up in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s as the nostalgia factor is definitely at play. However, the characters here are strong enough that you’ll get a kick out of this even if you sit outside that age bracket.
Who We Were is on at the Improv Conspiracy theatre until September 23rd