Celia Pacquola – All Talk

By Lisa Clark

Celia Pacquola jumps straight into her show, absolutely no faffing about. No ‘How are you all tonight?’ or any such guff. Celia’s had a busy year and there is a lot to unpack, she has no time for padding.

She does begin by sympathising with the audience about how hard it is to drag yourself off the couch to go out. Celia’s been out and about a lot, apart from stand up, she’s been making TV (Utopia, Rosehaven, A Beautiful Lie etc) and winning awards etc. The first section of the show is just the jokes about her busy life that many people would envy, but by the end a lot of this  can be seen by the audience in a different light.

Her show is called All Talk and that’s what it is; pure unadulterated stand up. No set, no audio visual support, costumes, wigs, big props or audience participation. There is always her relationship with the audience that she muses about and I like that she doesn’t need to pick out a single person to  make a connection. We are here and onside, some of us have been following her career from before her 1st Festival show. She recognizes she also has a new audience who’ve come to see “that nice girl on that sweet Tasmanian TV show” (Rosehaven). And she is and always will be.

Celia worries about taking us into some surprising and controversial places but she isn’t apologetic about it; ‘This is the show this year’. She’s earned the right to gently take us into some darker territory, she has always done this so well. It’s not the 1st time I’ve found myself shedding a tear in a Celia Pacquola festival show, though it may be just me this time. It’s not really a sad show at all, often hilarious, but so personal. I was just briefly moved by her bravery, whereas her first ever show Am I Strange? (Critics Award MICF 2009) had me weeping for days. There was a sense of #MeToo about Am I Strange?, even way back then. It was about shockingly shitty boyfriend behaviour and I really related to it at the time. This show visits the #MeToo movement briefly but is more importantly about maintaining your mental health in stressful times.

Behind the constant laughs, Celia has constructed a subtly intricate stand up show with witty one liners and sharp observations as well as layers of stories and call backs. It’s about growing up and the importance of taking care of herself while giving her audience the best performances she can muster. All Talk is a stunning, ultimately joyful, autobiographical festival show, we can only hope that her screen success doesn’t stop her from creating more of these and (maybe after a bit of a well-earned holiday), that she’ll soon be back catching up with her mates, er, audience.

All Talk is on at The Comedy Theatre until April 17

The Temps

By Colin Flaherty

In this comic play written by Sarah Bennetto we are thrust into the unforgiving and uncaring world that is a temp office worker. Sarah plays the put upon receptionist who attempts to get through the work day with the least amount of scars.

This world is populated by oddball people with weird eccentricities who are brilliantly portrayed by the cast. We have the terse Department Manager (played by Celia Paquola), the barely functioning CEO (Tom Webb), the lecherous pants man (Robin Clyfan), the more important than he seems Janitor (James Dowdeswell) and the scheming fellow temp (Alex Edelman). These hyper-real characters are ones that those who have ever worked in an office will recognise.

Often the audience is cleverly included in the office environment to expand the world beyond the stage which is quite fun. There is also a fair bit of de-construction with some witty, knowing winks to the audience that emphasised the light-heartedness of the piece. At times it seems as though the performers are trying their darnedest to improvise bits in attempts to throw their fellow cast members (and regularly succeeding). The decision to highlight the deviation rather than plough onwards gives the show a fun, loose feel and highlights their enthusiasm for the material, although an audience looking for a tightly scripted play may find this annoying.

The staging is quite simple with basic office furniture and characters frequently entering and leaving from either side of the stage. The high volume of foot traffic gives the plot a sense of speed in spite of the static scenes of dialogue. Although the transition between scenes isn’t always clear, the action takes place over a number of days so it gets a little disorientating at times.

It’s a show that dips its toes into the cringe comedy of other office based productions but doesn’t get too dark as it tells an interesting and amusing tale. Get a hold of all of your workmates and spend an hour in this disfunctional workplace.

The Temps is on at the Pleasance Courtyard.