REVIEW: Unsupervised (The Basement)

Review by Tim George

[Responsibility – The Musical!]

Conceived and performed by Rebekah Head and Jess Brian, Unsupervised is part cabaret, part Muppets/Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood skit. The title refers to the performers’ relationship with adulthood and hence being ‘unsupervised’ in their lives.

Bracketed by songs (topics include bringing down the patriarchy and a killer parody of yoof-centric sex ed presentations), Head and Brian talk about finding their feet with bills, relationships, flatting, proper nutrition and basic hygiene. There is also a boisterous puppet called the Responsibility Monster (who gives free hugs).

Head and Brian have a solid dynamic – they are a mite too manic with the show’s bigger comic beats, but when it is just the pair in front of microphones talking and singing about their lives, they share an ease and chemistry that is fun to watch. 

There is currently a disconnect between what the show wants to be about, and the execution. There are moments of satire, where the performers touch on the problems of being an ‘unsupervised’ adult woman – the wage gap, the stigma associated with mental illness – but are gone over so lightly that they do not really hit. The insertion of mental wellness at the end – in which Head and Brian drop the act to frankly talk about themselves – is over so quickly that the intended take home message gets lost.

Throughout the show, there is a sense that the form and the content are a little at odds. It is not the cabaret is a bad form for frankness – that is kind of the point – but the themes the show is based around do not feel naturally integrated into the show. The show never really feels like it is about what it wants to be about. 

A light and frothy confection of song and comedy, Unsupervised is boosted by two enthusiastic performers, but is still needing a few more minutes in the oven.

Unsupervised plays The Basement Studio until 15 September. 

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