Chewing Gum Dreams review
Chewing Gum Dreams is a Green Door Theatre Company and Red Line Production starring a very talented Masego Pitso, who performed, in my opinion, a very difficult script flawlessly, being able to switch in and out of different characters and switching in and out of different moods within some very emotional and intricate moments in the show. The performance was absolutely amazing and very entertaining, keeping the audience completely and utterly entranced within the story, while also sharing a very important message.
When you walk into the theatre, it didn’t feel like a regular theatre, you were walking into Tracey’s world, Tracey already on stage with R&B music playing, my first thought was wow, this is really cool, I really really like this. All this paired with light blue lighting made the atmosphere feel like this is a really cool, grunge place.
Tracey is a bubbly, trouble-making, fun, and energetic girl who also has a very strong gut instinct. Within the story, it seems that bad things happen to her over and over again and she has been convinced that she won’t amount to anything. The adults around her completely fail her over and over again, not protecting her and showing her what she’s capable of doing. This is a common occurrence for youth, especially for people of colour which is what the main message, to me, is in this story. Tracey says that she’s not smart, then in the next scene or moment she handles a situation with utmost intelligence and maturity. She handles things better than most adults would and with skills she learned herself. This message is that when children are failed by adults, that somehow, in some impossible way, it’s their fault. That the kids are the ones to blame when not meeting the extremely high standards of the schooling system and society. This message is perfectly written by Michaela Coel and expertly delivered by Masego Pitso. The charismatic personality of Tracey was continually showing through even in the most upsetting and heart-tugging moments. Tracey’s character plays the comedic relief in her own tragedies, her charisma is what keeps the audience pushing and pulling between many different emotions – that’s the most important thing to be able to pull off with a script like this and Pitso timed her lines and comedic attitude with precision.
The set itself was absolutely amazing, having a little loft space to break up the show, and then on the other side having a jungle gym that at some times looked almost like a cage, trapping her. Bench chairs up the back were moved forward to create a classroom look, and it made everything look perfect, the brick walls with graffiti, paired with fantastic and genius lighting and perfect music to suit the story. It commands your attention, so you are part of that conversation – you’re there, in Tracey’s world, sitting there, not being able to stop whats happening but not being able to look away either. While watching this masterpiece, be prepared to be awestruck, watching with your jaw dropped, then hysterically laughing, then also having shivers going up and down your spine.
Josephine Hill, 16, Gamiliraay (She/Her)
What to do with stupid, counterfeit dreams: A review of Chewing Gum Dreams
Coming off the back of an immensely successful run of seven methods of killing kylie jenner in 2021, Green Door Theatre Company is quickly becoming one of the hottest commodities in the Sydney theatre scene, with their latest offering of Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum Dreams.
Tracey Gordon, played by Masego Pitso, is a 14 year old girl living in Hackney, London. Loud, self-absorbed, and constantly mocking those around her, Tracey is an asshole. But through Coel’s nuanced writing, an asshole we sympathise with and deeply care for.
Tracey’s monologue feels like a series of diary entries, filled with fascinating characters like her best friend, Candice and the local plug, Fat Lesha, that all start out nice, but by then end, reiterate how the systems in place fail young girls. Living on the wrong side of the class divide, a child of domestic violence and the victim of a neglectful education system, Tracey is trapped by the cracks in the ground that, as she says, were designed to trap her.
Director Bernadette Fam crafts a marvelous performance with Pitso, full of energy, deep emotions, and huge laughs. Fam isn’t afraid to take audiences into harsh waters, including an uncomfortable and extended pause in the action where we watch Pitso’s Tracey change back into her school uniform after a disastrous night out in Hackney.
Like the script, Keerthi Subramanyam and Tess A. Burg’s set, with Set-Design assistant Amanda Torrisi, is full of nuance. Unpleasant walls marked by illegible graffiti with spurs of grass that stick out like thorns on a wilted rose.
With lighting design by Kate Baldwin who delivers again with moments of both, great scale and intimacy.
Masego Pitso is a stunning Tracey, showing incredible maturity in her command of the audience, often achieving ruckus laughter with a simple raise of an eyebrow or a cheeky look to the front row. At times, Pitso struggled to distinguish enough between characters, and as such, her relationship with her best friend, Candice, which is the main emotional through-line of the show, struggled to land with me, leading to what felt like an abrupt ending.
However, these stumbles will assuredly improve as the show’s run continues. And with her fluency in the comedy and her control of the audience, I think it’s safe to say it’s a performance that Michaela Coel would be proud of. We’re most certainly witnessing the emergence of a star.
Alan Fang, 22 (He/Him)
Green Door Theatre Company and Red Line Production’s Chewing Gum Dreams is playing at the Old Fitz Theatre until 19 February. Book your tickets here.