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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Share House: The Musical, at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne - 90 minutes, without interval

Updated: May 18

Sharing a house with friends and/or strangers can be anything but straightforward. Sometimes, mighty testing, in fact.

 

So it is in the new Australian musical Share House, which is simply delightful.

 

Former classmates Lucy and Jane are as different as chalk and cheese.

Photos by Nick Manuell


Now young adults, they have been living together for what seems like forever.

 

Bossy, at times hostile, Jane, who is deeply set in her ways, makes an art form of put downs at Lucy’s expense.

 

From her youngest days, Lucy was apprehensive … lacking in confidence and Jane’s tactlessness continues to work away at her.

 

Still, Jane, who is cynical at the best of times, chips away relentlessly.

 

Nothing Lucy does, apart from watching television with Jane, seems good enough for the latter.

So it is when Lucy – who has been struggling to find a suitable third housemate – latches onto a young and enthusiastic dancer, Alice.

 

It turns out that Alice is ever the optimist and encourages Lucy to see the brighter side of life and embrace it.

 

Tensions abound and friendship is well and truly tested.

 

With a cast of five and a 15-piece orchestra, Share House: The Musical is an adaptation of Jude Pearl’s 2017 solo show Roommates: The Musical.

 

As the title infers, it is about fraught interpersonal relationships.

The action morphs, back and forth, from the present to the past.

 

We witness the emergence of the power imbalance in the relationship between Lucy and Jane.

 

Lucy is in the throes of a meltdown as the two girls prepare to take to the stage in a school dance competition.

 

Humour is a mainstay of Share House: The Musical, which frequently tickles the funny bone.

 

The characters are well drawn and deliciously exaggerated.

It is a superbly conceived and executed production. The narrative is often carried along by the up-tempo music and lyrics.

 

Written by Jude Perl, musical director Brendan Tsui and director Desiree Munro, Perl and Tsui were also responsible for the songwriting.

 

The tunes are clever and evocative, the performances grand, led by the seemingly effortlessly melodious voice of Perl, who plays the adult Lucy.

 

In fact, her acting and vocalisation are outstanding – the lifeblood of Share House.

 

Also impressive in tone and delivery are Isabelle Davis as the bitchy Jane and Anita Mei La Terra as the buoyant Alice.

Strong chemistry between Jasmine Tuvey as the young Lucy and Amie Zwag as the schoolgirl Jane adds a further layer.

 

For much of the piece, we are left asking if the disparate characters within it can ever fit together and make it work.

 

So, the colourful, jigsaw puzzle stage setting is not only creative, but most appropriate.

 

Props are kept to a minimum – little more than a three-person couch and few plastic milk crates on a colourful, jigsaw puzzle stage – but, dare I say, this musical sings.


The orchestra, positioned on stage, is first rate, taking to its task with gusto, after a lighthearted introduction.

Share House: The Musical is a glorious hoot – a fun-filled romp that resonates throughout.

 

It will undoubtedly prompt memories of their own formative rental experiences among a fair share of the audience.

 

Playing at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne until 18th May, 2024, this instant classic deserves a much longer run, let alone a return season.

 

I loved it.

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