Heartfelt examination of life and memory
By Irene Bell
World Problems, written and performed by Emma Mary Hall, is a tender look at the way we experience life. Hall recounts memories for the audience, giving equal weight to insignificant memories such as seeing her dad pick his nose and life changing ones such as divorce and the death of family members. In this way, she takes us from childhood through the aging process beginning in the ’80s and ending in a dystopian future.
With her kind tone and casual breaking of the fourth wall, Hall makes you feel welcome and able to reflect on your own life. This is definitely a show to share with a loved one. It’s difficult know whether to laugh or cry, as every memory she tells feels poignant (even the future death of George Clooney).
All the while Hall builds. Taking metal rods strewn across the stage, she puts them together like a puzzle even asking help from the audience when something is not fitting right.
There is no pacing of the stage, as usually permeates solo performances: watching Hall build her set and wondering which piece will come next is engaging in a childlike way.
Hall’s performance is spectacular. The accompanying music and lighting create an atmosphere of intimacy. The set is beautiful in its simplicity, there is a celestial vortex constantly spinning on the wall that reminds us of the otherworldly route this story takes, and the audience sits surrounded by pot plants. At one point, I realised that as I listened to Hall reach the dystopian part of the story, I was lightly stroking my neighboring pot plant – a subconscious need to reconnect with nature had awoken in me.
World Problems is simple in its presentation though grand in its ideas. It will make you feel calm and grateful, it will inspire you to appreciate every part of you, every good and embarrassing memory, and all the people in your life.
World Problems runs 14 – 24 March at Fortyfivedownstairs. Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at (03) 9662 9966.