GRACE is a light-hearted show that deals with real-life complexities.
Created by the team behind the last year’s FRINGE WORLD award-winning show The Cockburn Incident, GRACE sets out to tell a story about mental health, family, and consequences with playfulness and humour.
We had a chat about the show with director Phoebe Sullivan ahead of the production’s Blue Room Theatre debut.
Gutter Culture: This show deals with a subject that’s generally not funny. Tell us about bringing this twisted comedy to life.
Phoebe Sullivan: Yeah absolutely, but people are pretty incredible creatures with how they adapt to and survive trauma, so I guess the most integral part of this process was telling GRACE in a way that didn't pity itself. Sometimes people will talk about their most horrific life experiences in a very off-cuff, sometimes comical, manner. And not because it hasn't caused them serious pain or on-going issues, it's just that life keeps going and they go along with it. So, the team and I really strove for that angle with the piece throughout.
GC: What was it about this story that interested you most as a director?
PS: The dynamic between GRACE and her mother. Without giving too much away, there are moments in the play that ring so true to life. You're trying to say ‘goodbye’, and yet instead you talk about the most banal things – to say anything but that. It's a very beautiful relationship to watch unfold.
GC: Tell us about the cast of GRACE.
PS: Oh, they're all bloody stunners! Funny, talented, and such great actors to work alongside. I've been so grateful to have all their brilliant minds and energies in the room.
GC: What’s been most rewarding about seeing this work come together?
PS: I haven't directed a lot of shows, so this is new for me also, but I'd have to say: watching a cast no longer need you. Might sound a bit self-deprecating or weird, but so far, I've found directing is mostly about striving towards that version of the show in your head, realising it as much as feasibly possible, and then stepping out of the way. The cast of GRACE is such a joy to watch and seeing them stand alone is a real treat.
GC: What do you hope this production will contribute in terms of mental health narratives?
PS: That it will surpass the genre of ‘mental health’ and just run alongside other narratives as another factor of life, same as having brown or black skin or identifying as disabled.
GC: What can audiences expect from the show?
PS: A sense of play and silliness, along with tender moments.
GC: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
PS: Support smaller shows at Fringe! It's great that touring shows bring the crowds, but if you've known about Fringe for a few years now I'd encourage anyone who hasn't ventured outside of the big circus tents to do so. The little shows will get ya just as good!
GRACE runs 22-26 February. Get tickets here.