A powerful force of relevant contemporary entertainment wrapped around important messages
Jagged Little Pill officially returned to the Theatre Royal Sydney last Sunday with the original Australian stars of Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Tim Draxl, Emily Nkomo, Liam Head, Maggie (Max) McKenna, Grace Miell and Aydan in the lead roles. And just like the opening performance of the stunning revamped Theatre Royal, I was there and I loved it. Second time around musical Jagged Little Pill on stage was just as brilliant, yet for me a totally different experience, as I already knew the story I dug deeper. And with this show (thank you) came a profound personal revelation that was buried deep within my unconscious.
There are quite a number of contemporary relevant social issues portrayed in this musical. The lyrics of Alanis Morrisette's songs in themselves wave the battle flag for social justice. This time 'round the brilliant Maggie (Max) McKenna singing, 'You Outta Know' brought the house down again! With another standing ovation midshow.
Not long afterwards we witness an onstage protest baring plackards such as #MeToo. If you spend time on social media you've most likely have witnessed the hashtag. While it started out as a way for sexual assault survivors to connect and strengthen through numbers, Tarana Burke who coined the phrase has more recently referred to it as an international movement of justice for marginalised people. While this musical show is shiningly entertaining, these issues are the threads that weave the Jagged Little Pill story across generations.
Integral to the story of socio economic hierarchy are two cases of rape. This time the memories came flooding back. Asleep in my own bed in a shared household and it happened. It has been buried until now. As importantly, the story covers a wide range of issues and uplifts minority voices.
"As a non binary, queer human, there are not many roles that I audition for (let alone see on stage) that get to explore gender and sexual queerness. I was drawn to this role because Jo’s journey resonates with me, and I have experienced a lot of what Jo grapples with through the show. The conversations around this role have been incredibly important and needed. We need theatre to be an inclusive, safe and inviting space for everyone. I stand with my trans and GNC sibs and I am proud and honoured to be a part of this community. Our voices are needed in this space right now. We deserve to be seen, heard and represented..." said Maggie (Max) McKenna
At times you'll laugh, you'll cry, and you are sure to applaud. Clap your hands and stamp your feet. While these contemporary social issues may seem heavy for some, they are certainly important, portrayed here in such a joyful humorous and heart opening way that you'll be thinking yeah that's for sure, yet you will also have loads of fun. For some, like me, it may even be healing! This current Sydney season runs until 14 August 2022.
Photos by Daniel Boud