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Well-baked Fruitcake at the Butterfly Club

Fruitcake is a sweetly satisfying original play by playwright/director Jaimee Doyle that was shown as a part of the Butterfly Club’s one act play festival in March. If you made your way down an unassuming alleyway in the CBD, much like the city’s hundreds of alleyways, to the Butterfly Club’s humble entrance from the 6th to the 9th of March, you would have been treated to an immersive story about burgeoning young love and the challenges of expeditious intimacy.

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Fruitcake is a sweetly satisfying original play by playwright/director Jaimee Doyle that was shown as a part of the Butterfly Club’s one act play festival in March. If you made your way down an unassuming alleyway in the CBD, much like the city’s hundreds of alleyways, to the Butterfly Club’s humble entrance from the 6th to the 9th of March, you would have been treated to an immersive story about burgeoning young love and the challenges of expeditious intimacy. Aptly situated in the cosy downstairs theatre space at the venue, Fruitcake contends with the shadows of silence and absence that accompany interpersonal attachment.

Our narrator has just entered her first year of university. She is known to us only by the titular nickname Fruitcake (Amanda King) and is the sole embodied character in the play. Other characters are made known to us via voiceovers. Fruitcake takes the daunting first few months of tertiary education in her stride, sliding easily into the social scene even as she struggles to decide on a path of study. King’s costume is spot on: mom jeans, stripy long-sleeve and green tee, awkwardly tucked in. Right between daggy and trendy, costumer Alisa Miculan has found the middle-ground of verisimilitude. When a fellow student in psychology class catches Fruitcake’s attention, she formulates an excuse for them to spend time together. Far from creepy or manipulative, Doyle snags the delicate reality of meeting people at university – it’s never entirely organic and always a little bit calculated.

As this friendship develops into a romance, Fruitcake’s unnamed and unseen love interest remains a mystery to the audience. Performer Amanda King develops impressive chemistry with a romantic interest manifested only in voiceovers.  All without an embodied lover, King captures the awkwardness of early friendship, the excitement of newfound closeness and the confusion of unconsummated romance. While the extent of voiceovers in the show could be reductive or cumbersome, King’s grounded, compelling performance easily compensates. The voiced-over characters attest to key themes in the script such as memory, absence and silence. Further, it avoids overcrowding the one-act play. Nonetheless, Fruitcake’s strongest moments are those when King’s voice is the sole storyteller.

The intimacy of early adulthood is a sharp transition from years-long childhood friendships. Closeness is built on things other than a shared history, like attraction, interests, persistence. Yet, the unspoken pasts of both Fruitcake and her unnamed lover lurk latently beneath their relationship, threatening to sink it. Despite the prominence of unaddressed traumas in the characters, the light moments of play between them importantly address the delight of queer romance. Shared rituals such as café study sessions and movie nights show how love imbues joy in ordinary activities.

A one-act, one-woman play, Fruitcake leans into the juxtaposition of presence and absence. Its ambitious use of voiceover is vindicated by King’s strong performance, where Doyle’s direction has allowed the performer to embrace the character and intimately deliver the script. The queer narrative is a beautiful concise story of fleeting yet formative young love that resonates across generations. This production is an immersive and moving alignment of text, space and performance.           

Fruitcake showed at the Butterfly Club in the CBD from 6-9 March. Fruitcake will be playing again at the Motley Bauhaus from the 30th of September to the 6th of October as a part of the fringe festival. Check out @fruitcake.productions or fruitcakeproductions.com for more information! 

 
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