PASH Review


Olivia McLeod in PASH, 2022. Photo: Evangeline Clough Good ©

PASH is the brainchild of its lead actress Olivia McLeod in this one-woman debut at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Housed in Motley Bauhaus, McLeod’s show plays with both the intimacy of the small performance space and the cinematic grandeur of youthful dreams of romance. Littered with quips and humorous admissions, it’s easy to see how this show was comfortably postponed from its intended debut at Melbourne Fringe last year to MICF.

The production team do a fine job of assisting McLeod in deftly leading the audience through character Max’s journey towards the dreaded and much-dreamt first kiss. This is most notably seen in the charmingly romantic backlighting with a mirror (August Shearman), and the eerie undercurrents achieved with McLeod seemingly trapped in a door frame with atmospheric sound (Samatha Andrew).

Olivia McLeod in PASH, 2022. Photo: Evangeline Clough Good ©

McLeod’s writing is irreverent and sincere, embracing the demands of theatre to marry transience and relevance. One of the most heartening details of the production is the purposeful avoidance of painting Max’s queerness as anything but inherent in her life. McLeod approached the performance with infectious energy and gives Max an undeniable likability. Director Miranda Middleton has taken great advantage of McLeod’s adeptness with physicality in opening scenes, most notably with an exercise class called ‘Vulva’, and I would have been delighted to see that maintained throughout the entire piece.

The show is littered with gorgeous potential that could be met with some judicious dramaturgy, and a slowed pace would allow for the ample humour in the writing to land with the audience more consistently. After theatre’s historic lack of great material for young women – particularly queer young women – McLeod’s show is another promise from the independent sector that we can see this material is being written and produced, ready to take its rightful place in the Australian theatrical canon.

Olivia McLeod in PASH, 2022. Photo: Evangeline Clough Good ©

PASH is – like any good kiss – fleeting, exciting, and lingers after it finishes. Whilst the darker subject matter feels accordingly affecting, the show overall maintains allegiance to the emotive trajectory of the romcoms it references and embraces – complete with a happy ending.

Flick, 24 (They/Them).

Seemingly Wholesome Productions’ PASH played at The Motley Bauhaus until April 3.