TJ Dawe @ Bakehouse Theatre – Main Stage
7:30pm, Sat 14 Feb 2015
I was suitably impressed by TJ Dawe when he was last in Adelaide (all the way back in 2000!); both Tired Cliches and Labrador were wonderful pieces of storytelling, with Dawe’s likeable personality dominating the performances. Hence, Medicine was inked into The Schedule nice’n’early.
As with both the aforementioned shows, Dawe presents this monologue standing in the centre of an empty stage; there’s no fancy sets or trickery, just a man in a single spotlight. He launches into his story – a deeply descriptive account of his ayahuasca experience, expertly intertwined with (apparent) non sequiturs regarding the humble keyboard – in a manner which is instantly familiar from previous encounters… one might even suggest that his delivery style is one-note. But that rapid-fire delivery, combined with personal (yet approachable) writing, makes the performance utterly compelling.
When talking about his ayahuasca retreat – with all its colourful characters and mysticism – there’s a lot on insecurity and nervousness on display, and this helps make Dawe immediately engaging; but it also forms a wonderful contrast to the drier, more technical fact-deliveries surrounding the keyboard. And the performance is mostly played for laughs early on… but when we get to Dawe’s admissions about his visions, the audience falls silent in disbelief and anticipation: you could have heard a pin drop.
I seem to have come across a spate of ayahuasca-related media in the last few years – last year’s The Boat Goes Over The Mountain certainly sticks out in my mind – but the raw honesty on display here makes it stand out. I loved Medicine… but, then again, I love everything I’ve seen TJ Dawe present. His ability to present a compelling monologue, whilst dancing the line between the genres of pure theatre and standup comedy, is almost beyond compare; I only hope that we don’t have to wait another fifteen years for his return.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) February 14, 2015