Arts and Culture

Adelaide Fringe Review: Prepping for Theatre

Posted on: Wed 16 Mar 2022

In scrubs, masked up and ready to perform, local GP, Dr Lane at once displays the clever double meaning of ‘Prepping for Theatre.’  This one-man cabaret hosts a space where two passions meet: medical theatre and musical theatre, to deliver an entertaining, toe-tapping performance but mostly, a heartfelt and candid portrayal of personal story. A story of self-discovery, identity and pushing through the darkness to a place of self-acceptance.  

Originally recorded on January 16 while performed to a live audience, Prepping for Theatre is from a collection of Black Box Live in the watch from home section for this year’s Fringe.  The professional use of multiple cameras opens an arena for great portability. Despite watching from home, it is like being there amongst it, gazing in; black stage, side tables, candles and faint smoke amid dim lighting. 

In a clever opening we are introduced to Dr Lane through a high-spirited soundscape. The beeping of a life support machine layers with upbeat piano notes in unique, rhythmic percussion. It is indeed a creative symphonic preface.

Lane’s stage presence is fantastic and although poised, he instantly cuts through the ‘clinical’ doctor stereotype with a powerful voice, high energy and generous dose of humour (pun also intended!). He belts out There’s No Business Like Show Business, giving us a glimpse of the impressive vocal range that is to follow.

A fast-paced historical tour plunges the audience through the 270-year backstory of the modern musical. From classical periods, jazz, the 60’s rock musical, the 80’s through to modern day. Each shift is signified with carefully selected scores from musical productions like, Girl Crazy, Show Boat, Hair, Cats, Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon. It is a brilliant array of timeless tunes that showcase his operatic talent, astounding vocal adaptability and confidence. But we soon learn that confidence wasn’t always a constant in this performer’s life.

As focus on the broader landscape of musical theatre turns more personal, the clock rewinds on the struggle of Lane’s former years. Sections from The Heat Is On In Saigon, Why God, Why? and Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat, are cleverly used to leverage discussion of social injustices of war and racism along with toxic masculinity following the peak of an AIDS epidemic. We learn of a young Lane’s turmoil as he grapples with his sexuality, the crippling impacts of both bullying and homophobic messages of the time. We see the true force of ‘hiding the person,’ in repressed identity. Themes of self-hatred and mental health, grab hold through brilliant talent and candid storytelling, but remain heart breaking all the same.

In an uplifting crossroads, reacquainted with musical theatre, Lane slowly begins to find a voice, healing and a new chapter studying medicine. It is an important part of the performance that highlights the power of storytelling, reminding us that love, life and success come in many shades. And while the unscripted narrative is there to carve as your own, it is also important to remember, you don’t walk alone.

Both Lane’s performance and direction from Amelia Ryan, merge to deliver a developed production comprised of uniquely well-rounded talent that advocates for raising awareness, open discussion, and destigmatising mental health.

Lane’s work is articulate and raw, honest and heartfelt. It is truly admirable to see perseverance and vulnerability in performance, particularly one that is as relatable as it is inspiring.

All profits made through ticket proceeds are used towards Dr Lane Hinchcliffe’s not-for-profit organisation, Community GP, to assist in the development of an online program to support youth mental health.

Photo by Frank Lynch

Reviewed by Emma Wotzke

Festival City

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