May 6 – 7
Immediately upon entry to Anywhere Festival’s “Retail Therapy”, it is clear that this is a show with attention to detail, seen through its pre-start themed song selection of numbers like ‘Taking Care of Business’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘Working for the Weekend’. It’s a familiarity that continues through inclusion of musical theatre numbers that pepper the early parts of the work, moving along its lose personal narrative of long-term retail worker CeCe, who, armed with her price gun and staff discount is set to tell audiences how it is in the world of working in retail.
Reworked songs from “Les Miserables”, “Cabaret” and “Chicago” are cleverly positioned alongside even ‘Turn It Off’ from “The Book of Mormon”, reappropriated into reveal of a nifty little retail trick (a show highlight). Accompanied by David Mibus, Cassandra Croucher is of strong voice, dominating the intimate space with her commanding vocal performances. As complement, she also shows a great talent for characterisation in the comic between-song revealations of rookie retails mistakes, shopgirl secrets, customer types and routines and the need for the all-important ‘retail face’, content that is drawn from Croucher’s own experiences, in addition to real life accounts from local small business owners and employees.
Laughter lags a little in latter parts, which, with Matchbox 20 soundtrack, are more melancholy in reflection. Indeed, with its mix of musical theatre numbers and pop songs of the Madonna and CeeLo Green type, makes it seem like a show of two halves. Still, in the hands of its talented performer, “Retail Therapy” is a one woman show of huge potential that, with a little work on cohesion and through-line laugher, could easily assume a season at a more traditional venue (it has The Judith Wright Centre written all over it), because two nights is not nearly long enough of a run for this nifty little retail shtick.
You can find all of my Anywhere Festival reviews on the festival website.