Party Girl - KXT on Broadway (NSW)
Presented by Purpletape Productions as part of their Tape Over Festival, 2023. Directed by Lily Hayman.
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
KXT on Broadway, Ultimo Until Sunday 28th May
- Australia's own version of 'Fleabag' is here, and it's come with a rock'n'roll attitude and glittery fairy wings -
Fresh from its award-winning run at the Adelaide Fringe, Party Girl is a love-infused tale that is being hailed as “the next Fleabag” by GlamAdelaide. With Lucy Heffernan at the helm as creator and performer, supported by Lily Hayman's direction, Tim Maddock's dramaturgy, and Tyler Fitzpatrick's design, this one-woman show is, thankfully not a carbon copy of the show it draws inspiration from, nor does it need to in order to flap its sparkly fairy wings.
As Fairy Sprinkles, a children's party entertainer, Heffernan takes us through the ten rules spread across audio-visual vignettes. Amidst the back-to-back parties, she unravels the parallel story of caring for a mother living with bipolar disorder, with the script delving into the impact of mental illness on family, exploring the complexities of being a child forced to grow up quickly to become a carer. The juxtaposition of Fairy Sprinkles' job as a birthday party entertainer against the weight of her mother's condition creates humour as well as heavy emotional beats throughout.
Photos by Clare Hawley
Heffernan's script masterfully balances humour, bogan grace, and honesty. It unpacks the relationships that revolve around mental illness, while maintaining empathy and respect for the person living with it.
Similar to the renowned Fleabag, Heffernan's performance captivates with its vicious humour from its slightly-flawed protagonist. If there is one thing Party Girl one-ups over Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, it’s the transitions featuring Joan Jett/Janis Joplin/(insert raspy rock’n’roll musician here) styled music numbers. Heffernan showcases her versatility here with bursts of music, including some Aussie rap layered over slowly rotating disco lights. The motif of spoken-word and sung lyrics from Cher made for an impressively visual and poignant finale.
Party Girl stands out as a low-budget production that outshines its peers, thanks to Heffernan's confidence, and undeniable talent, as well as Hayman’s ability to adapt the material presented to her. The show invites the audience to connect with the flawed, yet relatable, Fairy Sprinkles, who navigates life's challenges with energy, snark, and an ultimately caring heart.
If the ABC are wise enough, they’ll give this show funding to bring Fairy Sparkles to Australian screens immediately.
Hayman is making it her forte to adapt new works written by women and gender-diverse artists within an independent budget to show why Sydney audiences need to embrace the independent theatre sector. The simplicity of the set, consisting of an amp, electric guitar, and a mic stand, is effective in highlighting Heffernan's performance. Props, hidden inside a large bag, are revealed throughout the show, enhancing its absurdity and adding visual interest - you may even find a surprise or two under your seats.
Utilising KXT’s traverse staging, Fitzpatrick’s lighting is fully rock’n’roll, harnessing tiered homemade LEDs and three columns of par cans to create insanely pleasing visuals as Heffernan slams out echoing riffs on guitar.
Party Girl is a must-see theatrical experience that combines expressive vulnerability and endearing authenticity. Lucy Heffernan shines as both the creator and performer, delivering a captivating performance that leaves you laughing and reflecting long after the glitter has settled. If the ABC are wise enough, they’ll give this show funding to bring Fairy Sparkles to Australian screens immediately.
Get your tickets to the full line-up of Tape Over Festival below.
CAST & CREATIVES
Creator/Performer - Lucy Heffernan
Director/Producer - Lily Hayman
Designer/Producer - Tyler Fitzpatrick
Dramaturg - Tim Maddock