Arts Festival Review: Page 8
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Page 8Reviewed by Lyndon Hood
By David Page and Louis Nowra
Company B Belvoir
8 - 12 March
In Page 8, David Page, the eighth of twelve page children, tells the stories of his own youth. About growing up as an Aborigine in Australia, his brief stardom as a child singing star (until his voice broke), working a shop-window dresser and as a concreter, coming out as gay, going to music school - but most of all about all the different personalities and events of his sprawling family life. The set - the kitchen sink and table, a wood-fired cooker, a big old wardrobe - invokes the homes that he had.
Page is gay and Aboriginal, but if you want any grand political lessons you'll have to make them for yourself - the play is ultimately personal. Even a few stories of straightforward racism from his childhood are mostly played for comic value.
In fact, much of the play seems to have started of as jokes, or at least the kind of tales from your life that you might tell again and again to entertain your friends. While the solo performance is brim-full with people, the stories centre on Page's own experiences and rarely stray far into uncomfortable territory. Plenty of entertainment and excitement, but not so much drama.
It's not quite like sitting down with him and having a yarn - a little too polished and controlled for that, despite the occasional quip or ad lib peeping into the performance. But Page is charming and engaging performer and it is that presence and all those interesting stories that keep bringing you back in to the show.
Much of the performance - the heart of it - is Page's unadorned and compelling storytelling. This easy rhythm is invigorated with a scattering of other styles. Page slips easily in and out of other characters, throws in dance numbers and songs: the audience is all-round entertained. The show is woven together with family video from his Super 8 camera, projected against the wardrobe.
David Page has had such a varied life that there really is something there for everyone to relate to. He finds, farewelling the aged Auntie and Uncle for whom he has been caring, that he does know who he is and where he comes from. After spending some time with him, we know just a little about that too.
The drag act he did for an encore was pretty impressive as well.