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Adelaide Fringe 2011

Other People’s Problems

Winners At Life

Genre: Short Plays

Venue: Bakehouse Theatre - Studio, 255, Angas Street, Adelaide


Low Down


Three short plays show the value of giving and taking advice (particularly one’s own advice). A motivational speaker tries to encourage the audience to live their lives tomorrow but unburdens her own questionable predicaments as she exemplifies her presentation by plotting revenge against her ex-best friend. A teenage girl dispenses advice on her video blog to followers with unforeseeable but tangible results. Finally, Plain Jane uses a self-help tape to rediscover her ‘poised, confident, sexy’ inner goddess.


 DeAnne Smith’s satire of a motivational speaker is a laugh-out-loud scenario that resonates strongly with real-life presentations where over-zealous presenters harbour resentment and denial

about their own lives. The subsequent scenarios also contain a high level of humour that reflects distinctly familiar situations—a teenage ‘therapist’ inadvertently offers perilous advice to her peers

with disastrous results; she is also exploited by a lucrative corporation who then betrays her when higher authority is involved. Plain Jane is a character that almost every woman can relate to; in a moment of insecurity (or is it vanity?) she tries to regain her mojo by listening to a self-help tape that is filled with incessant praise in a gallingly soothing self-righteous voice.

Sarah Quinn effortlessly transforms herself into the three remarkable characters that are realistic, yet typecast for humorous effect—the American motivational speaker more so than the others, which bordered on ludicrous. The script for that scene also seemed extensive, exaggerated and utilised almost every American stereotype including the vociferous dialogue, legal action taken for minor copyright infringements, the circular arguments, and self-indulgence on the presenter’s part. However the subtle philosophies within each setting embed themselves within the audience’s minds thanks to the witty scripts and Quinn’s dynamic performances. Audience participation and response was high, and

the scripts addressed the major current issues in society in a light-hearted yet discerning manner.

The interchangeable sets did little to detract from the performances but included the key props, including a discreet projector that provided digital entertainment, continuing the theme of self-improvement, in between scene changes and aided the motivational speaker’s presentation. The lighting was adjusted appropriately during the performance and the soundtrack set the ambience for the final scene.

Other People’s Problems was an engaging and entertaining production that addressed the issues of counselling people and addressing their complex problems in the spirit of goodwill. The cataclysmic consequences were presented in a facetious and candid manner that made this production all the more memorable and entertaining. The energy and zeal from Sarah Quinn is contagious—she is a dynamic and multitalented performer determined to leave her mark on the stage.


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