Cabaret Festival

Cabaret Festival Review: Christie Whelan Browne – Life in Plastic

Life in Plastic is an exceptional show – It is packed with powerful messages and performed by an exceptional artist

Life in Plastic is an exceptional show - It is packed with powerful messages and performed by an exceptional artist

Presented by: Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Reviewed: 8 June, 2024

It’s no easy feat to stand in front of a room of total strangers and tell your own personal life story about your struggles with accepting who you are, body image, battles with endometriosis and IVF. However, Christie Whelan Browne has the most remarkable way of telling her personal stories with grace, poise and wonderful sprinkles of humour at the right moments.

Life in Plastic is an honest hour of cabaret, performed by one of Australia’s best performers of stage and screen. The journey that Christie takes the audience on is raw and from the heart. The show opens with Christie as herself in year nine, tormented by her braces and headgear. She speaks openly to her Barbie about conflicted thoughts between how she sees herself and Barbie’s plastic perfection. Christie shares her struggles, starting at the age of six, with the urge to look the way the world keeps telling young female presenting women to look. From here, Christie’s story progresses to her struggles with endometriosis and her long and stressful battle with IVF. I want to go into so much detail on the brilliance of this show and how it is one that everyone should see, but it would detract from the audience experience seeing Christie tell this powerful and topical show. Just take my word for it — see it. You will cry with her, you will laugh with her and you will celebrate with her. 

Christie Whelan Browne is a wonderful story-teller. She pulls the audience along in a beautiful way, softening some of the harder-hitting moments of the show with humour. She speaks from the heart. There is one moment in the show where she reads from her ‘maybe baby’ journal that is so full of emotion and honesty, you want to run up to the stage, wrap your arms around Christie and comfort her. This is a powerful piece of cabaret.

The script, written by Sheridan Harbridge, is fresh and honest. There were a few moments throughout the show where the script felt a little clunky compared to the finesse of the rest of the show, but as this is the Australian premiere of Life in Plastic, I’m sure with a little tweak here and there, these will get ironed out.

The show is accompanied by a bubblegum pop soundtrack, from Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, an upbeat medley featuring Barbie Girl, Just a Girl and Material Girl, to True Colours and Roar. Many of the numbers were from artists who have had an influential voice in women’s rights and equality, which is a nice touch. Christie’s voice moves between each number beautifully. There is great heart in the ballads and sheer joy in the up-tempo numbers.

Life in Plastic is an exceptional show, and if you can get there you should definitely see it. It is packed with powerful messages and performed by an exceptional artist.

Reviewed b Ben Stefanoff

Photo credit: Claudio Raschella

Venue: Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: ended

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