Autonomous Inventions Protein A. J RidefeltProtein is undoubtedly the surprising gem of this year’s Midsumma Festival, joining the ranks of First Time by Nathaniel J Hall and Bingo by Alan Flanagan in delivering an equally engaging performance and whip smart writing from the works creator, A. J Ridefelt.

Ridefelt plays Charlie, an utterly lovable queer vegan who is navigating life after lockdown as he bounces from one mishap to another – all in the pursuit of his plant based prince. Over the course of an hour the many many layers that make up Charlie are peeled away to reveal the flawed barely keeping it together, romantic beating at the heart of this adorably likable character.

Ridefelt’s writing is absolutely flawless – effortlessly shifting from comedy to heartbreak to hilarious despair to naive hope – there is no word or sentence structure that is not justified and elevates the work with each paragraph. Each metaphor is subtle but accessible, keeping the work relatable but still surprising.

As a performer Ridefelt is relaxed and just a little bit cheeky – unashamedly flirting with the audience whenever the opportunity strikes. Though he may also be the writer, Ridefelt manages to make the dialogue feel spontaneous and conversational, breaking through the fourth wall to deeply connect with his audience.

Clary Riven’s direction keeps the work well paced and flowing freely – allowing the work to feel free from pretense. Riven guides the work with a purposeful intent, focusing on establishing a strong connection between the work and the audience. This production showcases Revan’s masterful ability as a director and displays her impressive grasp of storytelling.

The set and lighting are perfectly suited to build the world of the play – with creative and pointe moments that circle the story back and give little nods to what’s to come and what has been. With an intelligent simplicity, the design elements of Protein sit parallel with the script, a testament to the creative talent behind them.

This work is perfectly suited to tour and be shared with audiences far and wide – it is a truly relatable story from some excellent creatives. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if this work leads them on to great things.

The MC Showroom, Level 1 – 48 Clifton Street, Prahran
Performance: Sunday 2 May 2021
Season: 29 April – 2 May 2021

Image: A. J Ridefelt stars as Charlie in Protein – courtesy of Autonomous Inventions

Review: Gavin Roach