REVIEW: Yellow Yellow Sometimes Blue
Yellow Yellow Sometimes Blue
Reviewed by Brianna McCarthy
Last night I was able to see Q Theatre’s new work Yellow Yellow Sometimes Blue, an aromatic, immersive snapshot of Penrith at a very particular time in its development.
As a Penrithian, born and raised, I was excited to see a show that speaks to the place it is in so directly and gives our little city the attention I believe it deserves. Upon seating myself in the black box theatre that is the Allan Mullens Studio, a rather cozy and intimate space that suited the play well, I noticed wattle printed china plates locked away in a cabinet and heard a man behind me whisper to the person next to him “1954! That’s our time!”. Already in the first few moments the play had succeeded in giving the audience a way to recognise their home, and by that I was excited.
What followed was a story described in the program to be about “two outsiders looking in”. More than that, I saw a story about a place that was on the brink of massive change. It captured well with “calm before the storm” imagery of weather, the place wherein Penrith and Emu Plains was at the time. The area was transforming from farmlands into the uniquely cultured city it is now. With an influx of migration into Western Sydney and the emergence of new opportunities within the arts and culture, it seems that at this time the factors that give Penrith such a unique cultural voice were just coming together.
At a dinner party by the river, characters expressed the view of an outsider on the exclusive and far away art scene and how perspective may allow for the making of art that is different. This made me consider how in a place that is so uniquely bred and particularly isolated, it is only necessary that the art that comes from it is different.
The show was aromatic and melodic and engaged all of my senses. Performers Kate Worsley and Adam Booth cooked particularly smelly mushrooms and onions on stage, which very quickly filled the small space with some fantastic odors that invited me into an even more felt experience.
Much in tune with the style of the 50’s I watched colourful fruit and vegetables being cut meticulously into ornamental garnishes for quirky platters of food. In many cases I found myself listening intently to the speech but staring only at the hands as they crafted away. It garnered a type of attention that was almost hypnotic. I was no longer trying to understand the play intellectually but was rather just watching - and that was extremely satisfying.
Live cellist Me-Lee Hay graced us with a score that was equally atmospheric, as the music moved with the dialogue in a way that often communicated feeling more than words could. These two elements worked together to give to me an experience that felt more lived in than most live performance I’ve experienced and harnessed truly the power of theatre to engage all the senses.
While I was over the moon to see a story that is particular to my home and its different-ness, this is a show that is not exclusive. I felt that it engaged with history that Penrithians may well be aware of but would not have left others out of the picture. That is to say, it was not preachy. It performed as a snapshot or a peek into this place at a particular time but allowed also for the flourishing of story within the world and for the richness of characters to guide us through the night. Overall it was warm in its spirit, in its story and in experience and I left the theatre feeling like the lights in Penrith twinkled a little brighter that night.