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Review: SUNSHINE SUPER GIRL at Brisbane Festival

Review: SUNSHINE SUPER GIRL at Brisbane Festival

This production runs until September 24

Brisbane Festival's Sunshine Super Girl was a grand slam night of storytelling.

Review: SUNSHINE SUPER GIRL at Brisbane Festival

Set designer Romanie Harper transformed QPAC's Playhouse Theatre into a tennis stadium, complete with a net, an umpires chair, white lines and a set of bleachers filled with audience members. It makes sense when you're exploring the life and achievements of one of Australia's iconic tennis champions. Written and directed by Yorta Yorta/ Gunaikurnai woman Andrea James, Sunshine Super Girl is a biographical play that explores Evonne Goolagong's journey to fame, from her hometown tennis club in Barellan to the fabled grassed Wimbledon Centre Court.

Sylistically, the play merges between the biographical narration of the main character, (played by Ella Ferris), dramatised portrayals of her life events and movement sequences by Vicki Van Hout (Wiradjuri) which blend together ballet, contemporary dance and tennis technique. With additional choreography by Katina Olsen, one of the productions' most admirable qualities was the way in which the choregraphers integrated First Nations movement and use of spoken word into the movement sequences; making the scenes more emotionally-charged. Movement was very much the backbone of this work which in a play about sport felt like a very artistic way to bring an athletes story to life.

Review: SUNSHINE SUPER GIRL at Brisbane Festival

Ferris played Goolagong as a bubbly, ambitious and optimistic despite the adversity's and racial prejudices that stood in her way. In a sport known for it's bratty personalities, it was refreshing to witness the story of someone who gave all of themselves purely for the love of the game. Not to mention that Ferris voice as the narrator was simultaneously calming yet authorative, which is what you need for a 95 minute piece of theatre. One of Ferris' notable scenes was when she was called the 'N' word for the first time by a rival tennis player. The look on Ferris' face and the hurt and confusion in her voice could be felt by all. One of my favourite scenes was when we saw Ferris seated in the umpire chair, tossing an imaginary fishing line into the river as she addressed the audience - a scene which bookeneded the play in such a nuanced way.

The ensemble - Kirk Page, Lincoln Elliott, Jax Compton and Katina Olsen - were each as important players as Ferris in bringing this story to life. The way the actors effortlessly jumped from role to role, from dialect to dialect was like watching a game of tennis itself.

Karen Norris lighting design and Mic Gruchy's video media design were also one to note; transforming the stage from tennis court to tennis court all over the world before taking us back to country New South Wales.

Sunshine Super Girl is not one to miss. Catch it will you still can! Set, point, match!

Rating: 5 Stars

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From This Author - Virag Dombay

Virag Dombay is an award-winning actor, director, playright and theatric critic who has been engrossed in the theatric world from a young age. She has been involved in a variety of children’s... (read more about this author)

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