AAR-Malthouse-Theatre-CHASE-Carly-Sheppard-photo-by-Shortcut-CreativeChase is alone inside a bunker lined with cardboard boxes. She lives on old cans of cat meat and four re-cycling bottles of her urine, but broadcasts on YouTube because “no cunt is an island”.

But is anyone liking and subscribing? Is anyone still there? Are we really watching her or are we her night terrors? Is it even ok to laugh at her? Or with her? Let alone at her doll called Traditional Girl.

Carly Sheppard has developed and adapted the character Chase over the last 10 years. While formally describing her as “a macro metaphor of our colonial shame”, Chase reflects every confusing, misguided and downright wrong element of our culture and society.

In trackie pants, an oversized camouflage t-shirt and long mattered hair, she’s a cheery influencer on the wrong channel. Without a social filter, she’s likely to offend everyone at some stage as she strips away politeness and correctness and dares us to laugh at feelings and thoughts that we might not think are funny.

Chase, the show, is an astonishing collaboration between Sheppard, director Kamarra Bell-Wykes, and the design team of Smallsound (set, sound, composition), Rickie Brownlee (sound and composition), Katie Sfetkidis (lighting) and Devika Bilimoria (videography).

As Chase’s dreams are projected onto the bunker walls, design and performer are inseparable when she’s confronted by fears and traumas, which are as much from her behaviour as from the apocalypse she thinks she’s living in.

The vivid and visceral design questions if anything in this world is real or if we’re floating in her subconscious or watching with her ancestors.

It could be now, the recent past or an unknown future. But Chase believes that the outside is uninhabitable and that she is alone, until her old pay phone rings and she starts preparing for a party.

Her bunker world shatters and rebuilds as spirituality and religion want a place in the Dreaming and the party. Her shrine with Jesus, The Rock and the Easter Bunny is as relevant as Satan appearing in a Coles’ shopping trolley. Or should we be asking why there’s a human skull wearing rabbit ears?

Chase is as hilariously challenging as it is traumatic and confronting. Leaving was like waking up from a dream in a sweaty fuddle that’s part relief and part hope that you’ll fall asleep again and it will still be there.

It confronts parts of your psyche that you want to ignore and makes complete sense when you’re in it but is almost impossible to explain to anyone afterwards.

The Tower – Malthouse Theatre, Sturt Street, Southbank
Performance: Thursday 17 March 2022
Season continues to 20 March 2022
Information and Bookings:

Image: Carly Sheppard in Chase – photo by Shortcut Creative

Review: Anne-Marie Peard