Presented by Rachel Edmonds
Reviewed 2 March 2018
Rachel Edmonds is the writer, director, producer and wonderful main actor in this show while Martin Astifo does a great job in a supporting role. The play was developed through interviews and ideas from the public combined with Edmonds’ experience and understanding of living and working with a disability.
As the play opens the audience is literally bombarded with a soundscape consisting of, we hope, well meaning advice given to people with a disability or a chronic illness: cut out gluten; my naturopath has some amazing stuff; you should get out more and so on and so forth. This gradually gets louder and the suggestions become more judgemental: you need to have a more positive outlook; it’s all a question of mind over matter; and finally, have you tried yoga?
The play begins with Edmonds’ character describing being ‘invisible’ when in a café. The server knows she is there but refuses to make eye contact with the woman in the wheelchair so that eventually her companion has to order for her. This is in stark contrast to a young girl who comes up to ask about herself and the wheelchair. This chat is cut short by the girl’s parents who move her away. Both encounters are disheartening but especially that with the child as it is an opportunity lost to normalise contact with someone who has a disability.
The play is provactive and touches many raw nerves, for both the characters and the audience. Instances which we or someone we love have probably experienced: waiting for literally years to get a correct diagnosis and treatment; under staffed and overworked doctors and nurses in A&E departments who don’t have the time or energy to really listen to what the patient is telling them; friends who can’t or won’t make that little extra effort to accommodate your needs.
I heard an audience member, who was using a walking frame, comment on how wonderful it was to have a totally accessible venue. As I now have a family member for whom mobility is a major issue, I find myself noting when there are steps up into a shop, the aisles are too narrow for a wheelchair and my all time bug bear – when the accessible entrance is down a lane or round the back! What does this say about what we think of those with a disability?
Have You Tried Yoga? is great thought provoking entertainment and I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 5: 4.5
Venue: Mill Gallery at The Mill, 154 Angas St, Adelaide
Season: 3,4,6,8 (this performance is Auslan interpreted), 9 March at 7.30pm
Duration: 70 mins
Tickets: $30 $25 Conc