IF YOU NEED Nothing but net

If You Need is an original play from a team of emerging performance makers from across Australia who currently all call Perth home thanks to their studies at the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). The fast-paced, suburban, off-beat comedy will take you back to the days of the schoolyard as we follow the trials and tribulations of lead character, the 13-year-old netballer Victoria Russ, as she battles her demons and family legacy in an attempt to make a new name. Ahead of the show’s twelve-night run from Monday, February 1 through to Sunday, February 14 at The Briefing Room, Girls School (get more info and tickets here), MICHAEL HOLLICK chatted to the play’s author, Eliza Smith, to find out more.

How would you describe your show in your own words?

The tale of Icarus, meets school netball, meets Disney-channel-sports-movie, meets complete farce. It’s a fast-paced fever dream packed with big characters and even bigger ambitions.

What do you think differentiates your show from other shows at Fringe World 2021?

I believe that there are many things that make this show special, but the main thing would be the genuinely infectious level of fun that the show’s five actors generate, as they jump and scramble to play all fifteen of the show’s characters. It really is a laugh until your stomach hurts kind of show, and it is near impossible not to fall totally in love with these characters and their unchecked dreams. And I haven’t even mentioned yet that the play’s narrator is a talking frog!

What is the one thing about If You Need that you are eager to share with the masses?

At the heart of this play is the remembering, or re-remembering more accurately, of the Greek myth of Icarus. We believe that while stories can free us they can also restrain us, posing as cautionary tales intended to dictate moral behaviour.

The original myth was a warning against ambition – a reminder to always fly under the radar. We flipped this on its head and instead chose to rage against mediocrity in the biggest, most joyous and most ridiculous ways possible.

The show is a celebration of ambition, a celebration of failure, and an ode to the friends who are there to catch you if you need. If there is one thing I would want people to walk away with from this show, it’s a reminder of the bravery their inner child possesses – the one who is unafraid to fail because they know that some heights are worth falling from. 

Who do you think will enjoy If You Need the most?

The target audience for If You Need is predominantly young adults in their 20s. It’s a tongue-in-cheek parody of all the great cliches from the movies and TV shows we grew up with. Drawing inspiration from High School Musical, She’s the Man, Glee, and many more, and set in 2008, the show aims to evoke nostalgia and call upon the inner child of each audience member. That said, anyone who loves either Greek mythology or netball will really love this show.

How long have you been preparing for Fringe 2021? And what challenges has COVID had on your creative process?

The creative process began back in April of 2020 when four of the seven team members came together in a voice class for uni, which was conducted via Zoom at the time. At its onset, the experience of not being able to gather in person was quite daunting and challenged the traditional ideas of theatre-making that we had come to know and understand.

So this play became, in a sense, a way to rebel against the reality of COVID and made us want to pursue things that brought us joy and wonder, such as tapping into our own childhoods and chasing after stories of hope, ambition.

What other shows at Fringe 2021 are you keen to check out?

We have a huge list of shows that we can’t wait to check out this year, which ranges from the feminist pieces HAIR and What of It? to home-grown musicals such as Passing and Growing Pains. Something that is particularly exciting about this year’s season is the number of Perth based artists in the program, and the sheer talent that they all possess with their ability to tell a unique story.

And finally, what fruit is your show most like? And why?

I think that If You Need is definitely an orange slice during a game of netball; it’s vibrant, energising, juicy, and ideal for sharing with your team.