Vigil (Arts Centre Melbourne) – theatre review

In a tour de force performance, the multi-talented Christie Whelan Browne (The Drowsy Chaperone) takes us on a journey on Christmas Eve, while visiting her character’s dying mother. But don’t fret, Vigil is no downer.

Using Steve Vizard’s words and lyrics, and composer Joe Chindamo’s original music, Whelan Browne mesmerises us, switching seamlessly from humour to pathos. She channels the persona of 30-something Liz and reflects her years in her mum’s company. Especially noteworthy are the moments of embarrassment. 

Liz also seizes the opportunity to take a whack or two at her goody-two-shoes older sister. The former is nothing if not honest, but she is also decidedly needy, someone who hasn’t always made the best choices in life. 

Credit: Claudio Raschella

Returning after an extended period abroad, Liz is short of money and clearly likes to party. Whelan Browne chats and warbles (she has a delightful, clear singing voice), acutely proficient and comfortable in either mode, holding the audience in the palms of her hands for all 90 minutes without interval. The melancholy notes are few, as the wit and verve in the writing shines through.

It is a most accomplished display by a performer about whom I am fast running out of superlatives. Suffice to say, one is undoubtedly richer for having seen her in this dynamic and endearing show. Accompanying her on piano is composer Chindamo, with Zoe Black on violin and Molly Kadarauch on cello. There is much to be proud of and excited by here.

Vigil is a sheer delight from start to finish. Please do not miss it. It is playing at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, until 8 July 2017.

Alex First

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1 thought on “Vigil (Arts Centre Melbourne) – theatre review

  1. Tired as I was last Tuesday, I was totally glued throughout the performance of Vigil on the 4th July.
    Music and drama were superbly integrated.
    So many emotions – fear, laughter, regret, sibling rivalry, mourning and hope to name a few.
    The clever interweaving of Chindamo’s music underscoring the intensity of the moments clearly reaches out to what we all experience.
    Whelan Browne is simply stunning in her acting and musicality. Thank you Steve Wizard for initiating this most relatable show!

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