Printable CopyA MIGRANT’S SON
Burnside Town Hall, The Ballroom
Until 24 Feb 2019

Review by Paige Mulholland

Presented at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival

The story of a migrant coming to Australia, working hard for their family and making good isn’t an unusual one – we’re a country of migrants, after all. Michaela Burger’s family story has tragedy and comedy, adventure and safety, failure and success, but doesn’t all of ours? Perhaps it’s Burger’s ability to take a small story and make it intimate and beautiful that makes this show so popular and so special.

As a second generation Australian with Italian and Greek heritage, Burger looks back through the Greek side of her family. She begins with her great grandfather, who finds success as a bakery owner on Grote Street and brings his wife and children out to Australia after a ten-year estrangement, and tracks the line through her grandmother (who earned an OAM). She continues down the line to tell the story of her father, who found success in Coober Pedy as a miner and then a supermarket owner - eventually founding the Rite Price supermarkets – through to her generation and her young nephews. Although her emphasis on her family’s constant battle for success is at odds with her talk of her grandfather’s popular bakery, whose business began booming as early as the Great Depression, and her father’s success with investing in early arcade machines, the narrative is compelling and the audience laugh and cry along with Burger – sometimes within the same sentence.

Burger slides easily from Greek accents to Aussie drawls, impersonating everyone from members of her extended family to the ocker Aussies they encountered in Adelaide and Coober Pedy, sometimes donning costume pieces to aid the transition. She has one costume change in the middle of the show that doesn’t seem to serve a purpose, which stood out in a show where all other costume changes, projections, sound and lighting changes are so purposeful and symbolic.

Burger’s voice is, as always, a powerhouse, easily filling the lofty Burnside Ballroom. The choir, whose voices drift down from the balcony, were a wonderful surprise, and added both another vocal dimension and a wonderful sense of community to the show.

Burger’s story is engrossing and her delivery is seamless – obviously painstakingly practiced but still genuine and responsive. The standing ovation she received was well-deserved.

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)