Review: I Often Find That I Am Naked (Rouge Theatre Company)

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Dry humour and dry martinis are served up in Rouge Theatre Company’s highly polished first production, directed by Sarah Drew, exploring the dark side of casual dating and the media myth of the modern woman who “has it all”.

Written by Brisbane artist Fiona Sprott in 1998, I Often Find That I Am Naked is a play about love, sex, and dating that I was surprised to find still feels very timely.

Jezebel is a modern career woman seeking the unattainable Sex-and-the-City dream sold to her generation: grappling with work-life balance, dealing with workplace sexism and slut shaming, disappointed by modern dating, and striving to suppress her loneliness with sex, alcohol and partying. What begins as a lighthearted romp through the intimate details of Jezabel’s mishaps with men eventually descends into darker territory as she spirals deep into denial, alcoholism, and stalking. Her antics become increasingly embarrassing and bizarre, and the audience begins to realise the full extent of her unreliability as a narrator as she comes to terms with her mental health and emotional distress. Jezebel’s awkward anecdotes had the audience giggling, but the work was also peppered with some poignant and heartwarming moments, expertly handled by the cast.

Sophia Haworth brought a wide range of authentic emotions to the stage as Jezebel, maintaining character and a strong stage presence throughout the 70-minute performance especially given that a majority of the play is a monologue delivered from her perspective. Luke Hoban and Christopher Batkin each took on a multitude of supporting roles as the men in Jezebel’s life, from melodramatic poets and religious types to foot fetishists and commitment-phobic foreigners. Both men switched distinctively between characters despite a few inconsistent accents, and there was great onstage chemistry between all three actors.

Tyson Jones composed the music used in the production and played live during the performance, and lighting design by Cameron Brider contributed significantly to the atmosphere in each scene. The versatile set design took audiences from Jezebel’s apartment to workplaces, an airplane, bars, bedrooms, and speed dating events, and cleverly layered costuming also allowed for quick changes in scene and location in a performance space with no wings or backstage area. Voice-overs were used as well, often as a scene-changing device.

Grab a cocktail from the bar and settle in for an emotionally-charged experience – I Often Find That I Am Naked is a strong start from a brand new Brisbane theatre company, carried by a dynamic cast and just as resonant today as it was twenty years ago.

I Often Find That I am Naked will be playing at Black Bear Lodge, Fortitude Valley, from 17-18 July. Find more information about the production and Rouge Theatre Company on their website, or book tickets to the show here.

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