‘Bloom Girl’ was powerful.
‘Bloom Girl’, presented at the Thomas Dixon Arts Centre in West End, bent the rules and hit the hard topics with no fear or reservation.
Charli Burrowes wears many hats. She is a visual artist, a writer, a producer, film director, actress and the fearless creator of ‘Bloom Girl’. Ever present on social media, Burrowes is well versed in subject matter she unpacks in ‘Bloom Girl’, giving lived experience to her script work.
The production unpacks the way we present ourselves in a digital age; the curated image seen on our instagram feeds vs the broken person behind the screen. This message comes through the story of @bloomgirl, a niche blogger who has spent her life adapting her online image to please the masses.
The play begins at the end, where a disheveled @bloomgirl stumbles into a hospital with a melted icecream and a nasty nosebleed. As she tells her story, the audience witnesses the unraveling of the perfectly curated image of @bloomgirl.
Opening night of ‘Bloom Girl’ was a feast for the senses. Spotlighting stunning florals by artist Bart Hassam, a cocktail and rose on entry, the beautiful @porcelaine_alice and a Kate Bush impersonator (which was obscure but appreciated). Burrowes curated the evening to be an artistic experience from start to finish.
As audiences filed into the newly constructed Thomas Dixon Art Centre, they were handed a rose and given a warm “you look great tonight babes – what’s your insta?” from the ushers. There was a motif and Burrowes thoroughly leant into it.
Set construction was simple but effective. There were a number of black theatre boxes upstage with neon signs mounted onto them. Throughout the one-woman show, Burrowes used these boxes to signpost her different characters. When she stood on a box, she took on the persona of an influencer. She’d rattle off their stats and then come back down to stage level to continue the story. It can be difficult to distinguish character when you only have one person on stage however this use of staging gave audiences a clear distinction of who’s who.
In addition to using the staging blocks as character signposts, Burrowes effectively used her physicality to signify the switch between characters. The script called for a number of two-way conversations which is often difficult to effectively achieve when you have one person on stage. This element could be further workshopped to identify which conversations are necessary and which plot elements could be told using different theatrical techniques. Burrowes would flip which way she was facing to deliver each character’s line. While some moments were effective, this was used too frequently and sucked a lot of energy out of the stage. A particularly lengthy moment was when Burrowes was sitting down stage left over the edge of the stage and swapped between @bloomgirl and a male influencer. Burrowes had to slide from one seated position to the other to deliver the two-person dialogue. There are many Brechtian methods that could help delineate the different characters and restore a bit more pace to the production.
The use of the child’s voice in the hospital scene was a powerful opening moment for the show. Since the child was figuratively placed in the audience, Burrowes’ energy was directed outward, welcoming the audience in and allowing us to connect with the story.
Lighting and technical design was stylised and echoed the colourful world of a social media influencer. Burrowes’ voice was clear, rich and all audio effects were perfectly balanced, a great achievement for an opening night production.
Direction by Elise Lamb was dynamic and leant into the dark and sarcastic elements in the script. Playing with physicality, proximity, voice and external sounds effects supported Burrowes’ performance and gave weight to the darker themes in the play.
It is no easy feat to perform in a one woman show. However Burrowes’ performance was brimming with energy, confidence and girl boss force, leaving no doubt in the audience’s minds that Burrowes was going to own the stage from start to finish.
There’s something wonderful that happens when an artist performs the words they have written. The connection to text, understanding of nuance and the passion that goes into creating a piece of theatre can only be doubled when you perform it as well. ‘Bloom Girl’ was a hilarious, confronting and all together wonderful piece of theatre that is sure to see great success in Australia and beyond.
‘Bloom Girl’ is going on tour! For more information on locations and show dates visit their website: https://bloomgirl.com.au/