Tae Tae

‘Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas!’ // shake & stir theatre co and Brisbane Festival

‘Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas!’ was uplifting.

Get ready to immerse yourself in a night of drag, love, and inclusivity as shake & stir presents their latest production, ‘Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas!’ in collaboration with QPAC and Brisbane Festival. This show adds another shining gem to shake & stir’s vast collection of phenomenal original Australian theatre.

The story revolves around Tae, who, having been paralysed at the age of six due to a car accident, grapples with accepting her new reality. Lying in her hospital bed after yet another spinal surgery, she ponders the uncertain future that awaits her and her family. However, a game-changing moment occurs when her Fairy Godmother bursts onto the scene, armed with magic dust and a determination to rewrite Tae’s story. United by their sparkly ambition, they embark on an extraordinary adventure that defies conventional notions of happily ever after and underscores the unexpected sources of true joy and fulfillment.

Written by Nelle Lee, this heart warming narrative draws inspiration from her sister Estelle’s journey. Lee’s writing is a virtuoso blend of comedic quips and emotional moments that interweave throughout the production. Her adept storytelling skill shines brilliantly in this piece.

Under the direction of Ross Balbuziente, the characters within this fairy tale narrative remain authentic and relatable, avoiding the pitfalls of overdevelopment or excessive fantasy. The natural blocking of scenes propels the narrative with an invigorating energy, maintaining a compelling pace that keeps the audience deeply engaged. Viewers forge emotional connections with each character, sharing their highs and lows with genuine laughter and tears.

Josh McIntosh’s innovative set design introduces a refreshing departure from the customary layout of the Cremone Theatre. Crafted entirely from illuminated plastic windows, the set morphs between the hospital setting and the vibrant Land of Yaaas. Many of these windows serve as portals, revealing props, actors, or concealed compartments; a creative touch that adds commendable depth to the experience.

Angela White’s costumes, were simple, but effective. A standout was the attire worn by Queenie the Drag Queen. The ensembles, accompanied by wigs and accessories, flawlessly encapsulate the essence of the Fairy Godmother and her many roles. A special nod goes to the syringe-adorned necklace worn during her portrayal of the intimidating nurse; an intricate and extremely effective detail.

Trent Suidgeest’s lighting design was as a spectacle. Notably, the shift in lighting as Tae’s sister enters the hospital room, transitioning from cool to warm, mirrors Tae’s emotional journey. Guy Webster’s sound design, a standout aspect of the production, enriches each scene with carefully chosen sounds and music. The inclusion of queer anthems in the house music beautifully complements the overall performance.

Dan Venz’s choreography, though understated, achieves a powerful impact. Madeline Little’s involvement as a Disability Sensitivity & Access Consultant ensures the production’s authenticity and inclusivity. The collaborative effort between Little and the production team yields a remarkably inclusive theatrical experience.

The cast of ‘Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas!’ dazzles, with each member shining brightly in their own spotlight. Maya Dove’s portrayal of Tae is a tour de force, capturing the character’s nature and eliciting both laughter and tears from the audience. Maxi Shield, as the unforgettable Queenie, infuses traditional drag elements, like lip sync, seamlessly into the production. Shield’s adept portrayal brings comedic relief and emotional depth to Tae’s journey.

Nelle Lee, who not only wrote the piece but also played Tae’s lovable younger sister, delivers a stellar performance that feels almost like a narrator throughout the play. Lee’s emotional range captivates the audience, holding them spellbound.

Helen Cassidy and Johnny Balbuziente round out this cast with their exceptional versatility, seamlessly transitioning between roles such as parents, nurses, patients, and even a Rupaul Inspired pit crew during set changes. These changes are extremely hard and both of these actors should be commended for their seamless changes and exceptional acting. 

‘Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas!’ undeniably deserves a 5-star rating. It stands as a shining exemplar of the direction Australian Theatre should be taking, creating authenticity and inclusivity. The production team’s remarkable work culminates in a touching ode to love and diversity, leaving not a single dry eye in the auditorium. A resounding bravo to all involved!

‘Tae Tae in the Land of Yaaas!’ plays until 17th September 2023 at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC. Tickets can be purchased from QPAC.

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