‘Reagan Kelly’ was rigorous.
In the heart of the North Brisbane suburbs lies Hayward Street Theatre and its current production of the hilarious ‘Reagan Kelly’ presented by Underground Theatre Company. ‘Reagan Kelly’ is directed by Grace Teng and features a small cast of seven outstanding actors who bring this hilarious comedy to life.
‘Reagan Kelly’ is a comedy about rebellion, self-sabotage and horrible relationship decisions. The story follows former school captain Reagan Kelly as she navigates after-school life. Everyone gives her advice, but what do they really know about her? Parents getting divorced, brother dating a creep and even her gay best friend has lost his sparkle. After Reagan wakes up next to a nineteen-year-old guy, she begins to wonder if she should start playing by the rules or whether it’s time to set the things that matter ablaze.
Lighting by Claire Yorston was evocative and extremely effective. The usage of downlights and colour helped to convey the story extraordinarily well, especially during the ending scene. When the blaze began, we slowly saw the stage turn yellow, orange and then burnt red, one of the lighting highlights. Sound design by Charlotty Lama was perfectly in tone with the era and ideology of the play, pumping out those hard 2000s hits we all know and love. Special mention to the dog felicity, as it felt like there was a dog barking directly side stage.
Costumes and props by Saburi Chavan were simple yet effective, particularly reminiscent of the 2000s setting, helping to create a wonderful environment. The favourite costume piece of the night was the faux fur headband worn by the mother character. Set design by Ellie Waddingham was lively and bright, especially with the usage of silver tinsel curtains. Each technical element by the creative team was carefully crafted to bring the settings to life and it was delightful to see each ingenious idea come to fruition.
Direction by Teng was phenomenal. Teng has whipped these actors into shape with emotion pouring out of every single one. The blocking was natural and helped the actors fill the large black box theatre and hold the audience in the palm of their hand. It is evident that Teng specially worked with Billy Fogarty (Reagan Kelly) for the beginning and ending monologues. They were fantastic bookends and really helped convey the message of the play.
Fogarty was the star actor in this production, leading the show with every fibre in their body. Fogarty brought a sense of compassion and love to the almost sociopathic character with elegance and grace. Olly Osbourne played opposite Fogarty as Oliver, Reagan’s brother. Osborne had the suave style that really brought this character to life and created a character that the audience loved at the beginning but questioned at the end.
Ben Davison as the hilarious gay best friend, Hugh, was a perfect casting choice. Davison brought sass and wit to this character and was the comic relief we needed throughout the play. Tom Russell and Charlotte Lewis played dad Ewan and mum Kristy, respectively. Russell and Lewis were a perfect pair from the start, giving the audience insight into this couple’s troubles immediately. They were those oblivious parents we all know.
Rounding out this cast was Bella Schwarzenecker as Bianca and Edward Cahill as Guy. These two characters were not seen nearly as much as we wanted, but when they were on stage – boy did they bring the punch! Each actor brought sense into this production, helping Oliver and Reagan through their journeys. Schwarzenecker was beautifully naive and Cahill loving and caring.
‘Reagan Kelly’ is a beautiful story about finding yourself and breaking the rules in our uptight and crumbling world. Each of these actors were incredible in their roles and had the audience on the edge of their seats the entire performance. This production wonderfully comments on Australian life and how we need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves, onto our children and onto each other. Well done!
‘Reagan Kelly’ performed until Sunday, 9 October 2022 at Hayward Street Theatre. Visit Underground Theatre’s Facebook page for more information.