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12 Lies I Told Before 21 - MICF 2023 (VIC)

Written and performed by Rachel Tunaley.

Reviewed by Justin Clarke

The Apollo Theatre (Speakeasy Theatre), Melbourne

Until 23rd April, 2023

- One of those rare finds that are the reason why I love going to the Melbourne Comedy Festival! -

Don your party hats, pour yourself a glass of prosecco and get ready to cut the cake as Rachel Tunaley celebrates her 21st birthday, complete with confessions that will cause shock and much hilarity. Tunaley almost quite literally explodes onto the Melbourne comedy scene with her debut show 12 Lies I Told Before 21 in the intimate Speakeasy Theatre to take you on a journey of lies from a theatre loving, drama ridden performer with extraordinarily prevalent main character energy.

Tunaley proves herself to be a confident performer through her extraordinary range of song stylings and an ability to engage with and involve her audience. The unique setup of the 21st birthday party starts before entering the theatre space, with a birthday book presented for audiences to wish her a happy birthday. Before long Tunaley welcomes guests to her party as she is adorned with sash, glitter and a birthday tiara.

For her 21st this year, Tunaley is choosing to present her own birthday speech and thus the audience are thrown through a cavalcade of stories and lies that’s landed her in the most outrageous of situations in her lifetime. From lying about stealing to get her to the Commonwealth Games, accidentally shaving off her eyebrows and stealing a birthday wish for herself on her Grandmother’s deathbed, Tunaley unashamedly explores dark humour with an abundance of energy.

Throughout, Tunaley has utilised pre-recorded soundtracks to bring moments of intensity to her devised lyrics that play on popular birthday tunes and help guide the audience through her many stories. If you’re a theatre nerd like myself, you’ll revel in the afterparty mishaps one falls into to try to be cool and if you have a keen ear, you’ll recognise snippets of musical lyrics and sounds taken from the likes of Hamilton and Waitress.

As I type down these thoughts, I’m kicking myself for not asking if Tunaley choreographed her own show or whether this was a collaborated piece. The reason I wonder is because it was so tightly choreographed and bursting at the seams with energy that it begged to be placed in a larger performing space.

12 Lies I Told Before 21 is a standout debut from a talented performer. Tunaley gives all her energy, vocal and choreographed intensity to her audience to create a unique addition to this year's festival. It’s one of those rare finds that are the reason why I love going to the Melbourne Comedy Festival.


This show is eligible for the Laugh Pack – buy full price tickets to 3+ eligible different performances in one transaction for a 10% discount. Excludes previews, Tightarse Tuesday and Saturday performances.

Adult: All Tix $30.00 Concession: All Tix $25.00 Group (4+): All Tix $25.00 Tightarse Tuesday: $24.00

Sun 16 Apr - Tue 18 Apr: 9pm;

Sun 23 Apr: 9pm

The Apollo Theatre (Speakeasy Theatre), 522 Flinders Street, Melbourne


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