4 Min Read

Considered and Multilayered: Watch and Act (review)

Climate change is perhaps one of the most common themes of new works in the theatre landscape … which is understandable as it’s a topic which weighs heavy on the minds of many (yet not enough). Like anything, when something is used excessively, whether that’s a theme or a product, additional pressure is added onto creators to make their thing or piece different; to make it stand out from the crowd.

Watch and Act, written and performed by Katie McAllister, distinguishes itself from existing works and conversations around the climate crisis. It harnesses the power behind an individual’s own feelings and experiences with the subject, providing a more human and therefore relatable perspective on climate change.

Katie McAllister in Watch and Act: Photography Sophie Minissale

Taking on the form and presentation of a stand-up comedian, Katie welcomes herself to the stage, microphone in hand and even starts up some audience interaction. We learn a lot of about Katie very quickly, we hear about her childhood, in Denmark, growing up on an asparagus farm and we learn that she loves the film Notting Hill and celeb chef Nigella Lawson (who she has a cardboard cut-out of).

The show is packed with varying content, including a whole poem named “F%&king Tim Winton” (see the show for more context), and in true stand-up style, Katie moves between stories quickly yet manages to bring them back to a common point.

Some stories she shares are incredibly personal and at times sad, however the audience is not left sitting in sadness for long as she swings things back around with a joke or subtle side comment. It’s this swift movement between stories which makes dramatic breaks, where a voice over of Katie reading emergency bushfire warnings plays, particularly poignant.

Katie McAllister in Watch and Act: Photography Sophie Minissale

Katie is frequently accompanied on stage by projected characters and scenic backdrops which add another dimension to her already dynamic story telling. Designed by projection expert, Clare Testoni, the visuals came as somewhat of a surprise with the scrim initially appearing as a simple yet elegant backdrop with blue and grey painted trees; a reference to Katie’s beloved Karri Forrests. Lighting designer Kristie Smith, knows exactly what to do to blend the painted elements with the projection, while also finding moments to use light tactfully to reveal unexpected elements of the scrim.

Katie McAllister in Watch and Act: Photography Sophie Minissale

Towards the show’s conclusion Katie pulls away from the realism of the content and brings us on a trip back home to Albany where her favourite people fantastically appear to make one very interesting yet conflicting drive. She’s accompanied on her travels by a cavalcade of impactful woman, many would think are completely unrelated but this creates a poignant picture of who Katie is as a person today. Through cleverly selected grabs, these women speak to Katie, providing their own views on climate change.

The story telling in this section is so immersive it’s hard to remember what was supported by projection and what was just Katie’s dialogue.

We end with some insightful yet simple advice from Katie. She doesn’t shy away or deny the scale of our climate crisis, but she encourages us to make the steps we can; no matter how small they may seem. Her parting words remind us that even when we can’t see fire, the crisis still exists.

With a grace and ease many wish to have, Katie not only engages an audience about the very much precedented climate crisis; she also takes what on paper would be a tragedy, and has formed an often cheesy (dad jokes galore) but always clever and insightful show.

Watch and Act is showing now at the Blue Room Theatre until October 16th.