A Play About Ivy, that is Really About June

TW-A-Play-About-IvyMelbourne Fringe officially opens today, so it might be too early to start talking about trends and the impact that two years of lockdown and online festivals have had on the independent arts scene in Melbourne.

BUT it seems like there’s a lot of new work by emerging artists who are telling their personal stories in the ways that they want to tell them.

A Play About Ivy, that is really About June is written and directed by Olive Weeks. This is her first piece for a stage and is based on her own experiences.

Ivy is 21 and her housemate/best friend June has moved out. Ivy is lonely and doing all those things you do to be an adult and get on with life: trying on your entire wardrobe, binge watching Stranger Things and realising that Lily Allen’s vibrator range is good.

Time is fluid as Ivy remembers her life with June. It’s clear from the first moments that Ivy is in love with June; however, while June loves Ivy, she isn’t in love with her. The gut-squelch of audience recognition and memory as this becomes clear is visceral.

Isabelle Ford (Ivy) and Ella Newton (June) bring a depth of understanding that makes the unspoken feelings they have clear. Neither want to hurt their loved friend. Still, Ivy has hope that things might change, while June would do almost anything to stop the consequences and pain of Ivy losing that hope.

However, this dynamic doesn’t change. There aren’t enough moments when we feel, hope or imagine that the outcome isn’t inevitable. At times it felt that maybe the writer/director was too close to the material to create a story that may not be honest to her experience but could help to tell a bigger story.

There are no rules for the balance between honesty, fiction, non-fiction and that-did-not-happen. Even the most fictional stories are personal and come from the writer/creator’s life. The only way to find the balance is to keep writing and making them. And for us to keep going, watching and listening.

A Play About Ivy, that is really About June has an honesty and emotion that clearly connected with its opening night audience, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Weeks writes next.

A Play About Ivy, that is Really About June
Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Performance: Wednesday 5 October 2022
Season continues to 8 October 2022
Information and Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au

Image: Ella Newton and Isabelle Ford feature in A Play About Ivy, that is Really About June (supplied)

Review: Anne-Marie Peard