Ladylike Theatre Collective
Until 22 Nov 2020

Review by Helen Karakulak

Ladylike Theatre Collective’s “How to Kill Your Hamster” is a wickedly funny, energetic performance that uses surreal dramedy to explore what it means to be a woman in the world today.

Following the “Sex and the City” formula, we’re introduced to Miranda, Carrie, Charlotte and Samantha as they grapple with bodily autonomy, internalised misogyny and unlearning sex as shameful from their Thebarton share house. Playwright Eliza Oliver shaped these complex and chaotic women navigating their sexualities and relationships in a way that offers various perspectives on how rape culture impacts everyday lives. It’s a necessary tale, and one that feels all too familiar.

Eddie Morrison plays Ham, a complex and lovestruck guinea pig living in the share house as Carrie’s secret pet. Ham’s infatuation with rescue dog Fran Fine, played by Ashton Malcolm, encompasses the erratic and uncomfortable advances of a “nice guy” who lashes out after being rejected. At the height of their conflict, Ham’s words to Fran sting, referencing her past delivering litters at a puppy mill. It’s a testament to Morrison and Malcolm’s stage presence and triumphant physicality that such a scene could be so impactful while delivered in animal costumes. While an odd concept, it remains humorous while still carrying weight as the parallels between animal and human interactions reflect simultaneous infatuation and hatred towards individuality that is often imposed on the human disposition.

Arran Beattie shines as Miranda’s 11-year-old sister Kitty. Beattie’s youthful characterisation and comedic timing offers a playfulness to the issues the young adults are facing while communicating the importance of openness to growing up. From Kitty’s quips and questions about periods and consensual sex, to her Taekwondo ambitions, Beattie’s presence promises a laugh.

A particular highlight is when Kitty decides the best way to cheer up Charlotte, played by Rebecca Mayo, is by re-enacting “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from “Mulan”. However, the character of Kitty does more than contribute to the humour of the show as she looks up to the house mates as role models. Her candour with them draws out valuable characteristics of the women, reflective of their comfort with themselves and their attitudes towards topics of sex and dating. Samantha, played by Katherine Sortini, is open and responsive to Kitty’s curiosity, which nicely Juxtaposes older sister Miranda, played by Maggie Aylett, as she’s more conservative.

Lighting by Aaron Herczeg is well-utilised to create a house-party atmosphere throughout, with well selected music accompanying such scenes and transitions. Directed by Annabel Matheson, “How To Kill Your Hamster” is insightful and intuitive, presenting relevant issues ingrained in our society in a hilarious 100 minutes that’s a most enjoyable discomfort.