Lured by the promise of an hour of female teen 00’s references, plenty from that vintage are in attendance and ready for a Delta singalong. Ruby Johnston’s solo fringe debut could have easily slipped down into an exclusive and silly ‘in-joke’ show but – miraculously for the era and subject matter represented – it floats above all that. This show has heart, brains, and private parts. Ruby reads her own diaries, no holds barred, from 2004 to the present and the form never gets tired or repetitive. We see Ruby grow up without strain or caricature – the text is pure gold and it’s restraint and simplicity must have been exercised with help from director Benjamin Nichol (also a recent VCA grad).
This innocent show drips with romance: “There are a lot of boys in the world and a lot of things they can do wrong – and a lot of things they can do right…” A particularly Shakespearean lament oozes with torment: “Do you like me? Tell me now. Tell, tell, tell. Shit.” Young, Tasmanian, Steiner-educated Ruby is politically aware and candidly pens her hopes in a letter to John Howard (ahead of the 2007 Kyoto climate summit) regarding our messed up environment. It is a sober reminder of the initial belief and trust we place in figureheads, and the confusion and disillusion that inevitably follows with time.
Ruby and Benjamin resist the urge to overload this show with music and, when it comes, Born To Try by Delta Goodrem is a well earned finale. It’s surprisingly hard to fill 50 minutes and there are only a few here that could be trimmable. Ruby is equally fascinating and engaging in 2004 as she is in last month’s diary entries and the closer we get to the present, the braver her revelations.