MFF23-Sheltered-Kathryn-HallOne part of Kathryn Hall’s life is that she has cerebral palsy, but there are many other parts. She’s employed by No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability as an Artistic Associate. Also, she’s the creator and performer of Sheltered, a tale of her time in the youth housing system.

In Australia, we sort-of pretend that we don’t know certain inconvenient things about those experiencing homelessness or having a lengthy wait for medical care. Life is particularly limited or precarious for those belonging to both groups.

A show like Sheltered can advocate for people in that category by raising awareness. The show has had a run at the 2023 Adelaide Fringe, collecting a “Best Theatre Weekly Award”.

The show is set in Adelaide, starting when Hall was in Year 11 at school and staying in her mother’s house was no longer an option.

Drawing on a video screen and some props, our performer gave an honest account of her time in youth housing, admitting that she could have done some things better. She has a treasured possession from that time, one which reveals the potential importance of small acts of kindness towards those we might never meet.

The show is directed by Andi Snelling, a Fringe alumnus who’s brought us some memorable works in different comedy forms over the years. Having had chronic illness herself, Snelling now assists those with a disability to make shows, and directed this work.

Part of that assistance was through being the line prompter for this opening-night performance. After a slightly nervous start, there was hardly any need for prompting as Hall told her tale, which was tinged with wry observations. The inclusion of puppets gave us the voices of other characters, and put a comedic slant on the difficulties of having continuity of care.

So, courage can get you a long way, even to Melbourne Fringe. The show will surely enlighten those who haven’t had to think much about what happens to people in need of support. Two shows remain in The Square, a suitably intimate space for such a personal story.

Festival Hub: Trades Hall – The Square, Corner Lygon & Victoria Streets, Carlton
Performance: Wednesday 18 October 2023
Season continues to 22 October 2023
Information and Bookings:

Image: Kathryn Hall in Sheltered – photo by Jamie Hornsby

Review: Jason Whyte