How do you know when you’re a grown up?

Envelope (The Vertebras)

Metro Arts, Sue Benner Theatre

August 22 – 31

How do you know when you’re a grown up? This is the significant question that forms the basis of “Envelope”, a show, created by The Vertebras, which examines relatable life motifs and those moments that make us feel like adults.

“Envelope” has a basis in reality that is unmistakeable, emphasised from entry to the theatre, which occurs from a side alleyway. Here, audience members are invited to take an envelope off the wall containing a piece of life advice passed on from previous audiences. It is an apt introduction to a show which goes on to offer plenty of platitudes, most notably the notion that ‘while the envelope grows old, the letter remains the same.’

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The ensemble cast of five women collaboratively contribute to playing the part of Jane Citizen, guiding the audience through a series of different ages, milestones and events. They sing and they share stories of reminiscence and regret in the intimacy of the simply-staged space, scattered with envelopes. This is complimented by the inclusion of video and voice clip words of grief, joy and nostalgic reflection, which only serves to enrich the reality of experiences that have served as the play’s genesis.

Indeed, what makes “Envelope” so entertaining, heartwarming and touching is that all of the stories shared on stage are true, either from the performers’ own lives or the result of general public responses to a survey asking people their age, how old them feel, when they felt like a child and when they felt like an adult. The result is an interesting show that is relatable, authentic and true in a way that engenders genuine audience responses of laughter and tears. Scenes reflecting on the loss of a parent are profoundly human and heartbreakingly honest. “Envelope” is quite simply a wonderful, touching experience regardless of your stage of life.

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