Bloom Girl (MeOhMy)
Thomas Dixon Centre, Talbot Theatre
February 1 – 11
When we first meet @bloomgirl (writer, performer and producer Charli Burrowes) she appears be a bit of a disaster as she awaits treatment for an obvious injury in a hospital emergency room, bleeding and with a melted ice-cream in hand, when she is questioned by a curious unseen little girl. She’s not crazy, she assures the asker as part of the inappropriate conversation that follows, and as the unique new stage-show unfolds with tell of her story, we see that this is, indeed true.
Stories are kind of Bloom Girl’s thing; she may be a copywriter by day, but she is also the author of a niche blog called Bloom Girl, where she rewrites the things that happen to her in a way that is supposed to be funny. She wants to create art not content, she pledges, but with 10K followers there is the expectation of a carefully curated online persona that needs to be upheld, which takes time, money and emotional investment. And so, under Elise Lamb’s nimble direction, her story is told not with bravado, but the honesty that comes from reveal of relatable modern world insecurities such as refreshes in want of a reply and ultimate desire to be seen as something real. Still, it takes a while to settle into Bloom Girl’s story with any empathy, but by the time she’s doing a Kate Bush dance in recall of a date gone wrong, we are absolutely on her side.
The hook-up happens while Bloom Girl is in Sydney for a Writers Festival reading of some of her stories. From this context, description of other influences’ niches, curated feeds and rises to fame bring much laughter in a ‘it’s funny because it’s true’ way. And Burrowes’ re-enactment of also IRL conversations in which she jumps in and of role as a swaggersome gorgeous Scottish
leading man follower show that she has a real talent for characterisation.
While its subject matter could so easily have made Burrowes’ debut stage play a clichéd commentary on the thirsty ‘live, laugh, love’ veneer of social media influencers (the show has been descried as Fleabag meets the digital world), the craftedness that emerges elevates things beyond this. Content is considered to infuse the story with call-backs to key concepts that in initial mention seem to be so random, however, the shrill notification sounds that punctuate its telling can obtrude to take the audience out of the narrative’s moments, especially when the accompanying illumination of large hashtag, @ and like on-stage symbol blocks seems to have the same effect.
To keep an audience engaged for an 80-minute one hander is no easy task, yet Burrowes ultimately does it with ease. Though at times it may be difficult to appreciate her character’s questionable choices in attempt to compete within the Sydney influencers scene, there is an essential relatability to the vulnerability that motivates them. The show’s dip into the digital wonderland comes with recommendation for ages 15+ due to its depictions of violence and sexual references, yet it’s ending shows that such shock value is not necessarily needed. These elements do, however, make it feel very much like a festival sort of show and while it would perhaps be more at home in a more intimate venue, its spirit can still be experienced in the wide Talbot Theatre of West End’s Thomas Dixon Centre in its Brisbane season kick-off to a national and international tour, especially given its immersive pre-show experience, which is full of art, burlesque and beautiful blooms.