There is something unique about O’loughlin musings on the Australian identity. Being born to an migrant family, a child hood spent in a small country town, escaping to the big smoke in pursuit of her dreams. It’s the kind of story line that we know so well through our own personal experience, or as represented in our screen cultures and literature. O’loughlin, having experienced some pretty dark battles, takes this almost cliched story line, lacing it with some deliciously dark antidotes, that emerge throughout the performance in the most perfect of moments.
Perhaps to liken O’loughlin story and popularity with Australia’s love for the underdog is a little reductive, but can not be overlooked. She speaks candidly about her battles with addiction, the breakdown of her marriage, and the pressures of parenthood. From the sharing of her own experience she further adds subject matter, that to an Australian audience is unquestionably resonate. Some of the best lines surround the expense paid for IVF treatment, the 80s in Australia and on a more contemporary note, even Cocaine Cassie makes an appearance.
The material here, has been unpacked by many comics, film makers and authors, and it is a risky choice for any one wanting a refresh. But this is Fiona O’loughlin, a woman that always takes what has been done that little bit further, and sometimes to far.
Also, it should be mentioned that for nearly four weeks earlier this year, O’loughlin was in a coma given only a 7 percent chance of pulling through. It is perhaps because of this, that the performance has a certain quality not often found. Here we see a veteran performer rediscovering her craft with a fresh perspective, it’s not just an hour of heavily edited and rehearsed stand up, at time’s O’loughlin focus seems elsewhere, moments that falter, endear us all the more. Anyone who shows such strength and fragility on stage, while sharing so deeply and gifting so much laughter, needs to be commended.
With one of O’loughlin daughters the opening act, singing three of her original songs is a peculiar choice. The obvious conclusion to draw from such choice, would be as an antidote to the comedy which follows. But with similar themes from both performers the bleak reality of life and the connection of family is what stays in the mind throughout and post performance.
Is this the greatest hour of comedy served up by O’loughlin, perhaps not, but with so many moments which remain with you, it is certainly not without merit. How O’loughlin further shapes her craft moving forward will be interesting, let’s hope she continues her story telling in such a raw and brutally honest manner.
Fiona’s season has finished, however there are a stack of great shows happening or coming up soon down at Map 57, to check out their full program click here