Gillian Cosgriff: Actually, Good

MICF23-Gillian-Cosgriff-Actually-GoodLife, work, relationships – things can go wrong. Some of us might even expect them to. What a surprise it would be — such as for actor and cabaret performer Gillian Cosgriff – to realise you’re a secret optimist, and that aspects of your life are Actually, Good.

Cosgriff has toured some delightful shows over the years, going back to 2012’s Waitressing … and Other Things I Do Well, and the 2013 follow-up This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

Her activities since have ranged from cosy gigs with improv troupes, to the last three years in a physically and mentally demanding role on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Melbourne’s Princess theatre.

An inadequately therapeutic holiday from the main-stage grind was saved by the invention of a game – list ten things you like in an increasing order of niceness. Each night’s audience for Actually, Good are encouraged to play along, leading to some amusing back and forth. Items offered are compared with those from earlier nights, and Cosgriff’s own list, which provides the show’s scaffolding.

The discussion of lists was interspersed with personal stories, or original songs delivered from a keyboard, which are regular features of Cosgriff’s shows. As usual, it’s somewhat difficult to recall so many new tunes after only one listen, but these were good quality offerings across a range of styles, and they regularly earned some large laughs.

Possibly showing the benefits of her recent experiences, Cosgriff showed herself adept at interacting with the audience. She presents herself confidently in a well-paced, high-quality show that has only one story which stretches our suspension of disbelief a bit too far.

There is a warning note for those unfamiliar with the performer though. Over the years Cosgriff has resisted confining herself to comedy, and there’s a melancholic air to some of the work of this “prematurely nostalgic” performer.

She reminds us that, despite our human inventions and any possible afterlife, there are two times: now, and death. One day Cosgriff will catch enough audience members in a weak moment, and a torrent of tears will wash us all out of the theatre.

A pessimist might see this as a risk. An optimist will expect a show from such a seasoned performer as Gillian Cosgriff to be Actually, Good, and be rewarded for a very different kind of outing at MICF 2023 – one where the “ha-ha” is mixed with the “ahhh”.

Gillian Cosgriff: Actually, Good
The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 8 April 2023 – 8:30pm
Season continues to 23 April 2023
Information and Bookings:

Image: Gillian Cosgriff (supplied)

Review: Jason Whyte