‘Jali’ was spiritual.
Multi-talented writer, director and actor Oliver Twist brings his critically acclaimed one man show ‘Jali’ to QPAC in association with Live Nation. With humour and far-reaching emotion, Twist weaves his life story in this 60 minute performance.
The word ‘Jali’ translates to storyteller or historian, capturing the essential nature of Twist’s one-man performance where he gathered us, the audience, together and gave a ‘heart to heart’. ‘Jali’ is his personal story about his life as a refugee from Rwanda moving to Australia. The piece covers a lot of ground, from his displaced childhood to new beginnings in Ipswich. I was struck by how truly conversational and honest his tone was. There were no tricks or dramatics here; as the solo performer as well as writer and director, he bared his story for all to witness. Similarly, the comedy in the script found that sweet spot too, as much of the laughter came from how genuine and accurate he was. There was a sincerity that was undeniably authentic and brought us that much closer to his turbulent story. You can see why this production was well received, nominated for Best Independent Production and Best Newcomer at the Sydney Theatre Awards 2021.
What stood out more than Twist’s heartfelt performance was Morgan Moroney’s lighting design which filled the large stage as if it was its own character. Twist’s more philosophical moments were greatly enhanced by the overhead lights which shone onto his head. That being said, the most profound moments in the show occurred during silence, stillness and Twist’s complete presence. I wonder if the impact overall would have been greater with less lighting cues, but there were certainly parts where they contributed beautifully to the piece.
A natural storyteller, Twist was charming, engaging and powerful in his performance. It was clear that his words were from the heart, with deeply personal sentiments about his experiences with discrimination, family, being a refugee, and living in Australia. It was special to hear the stories first count. You realise that such stories take on more meaning when they come from the lived person, which is a sobering privilege to be able to share in.
‘Jali’ is short but sweet and leaves you hanging for more. Oliver Twist’s ‘tell all’ performance is storytelling at its most personal.
Jali performs until Saturday, 23 July at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. For more information visit the QPAC website.
Photos by Tom Gilligan