‘Awesome Ocean Party’ is like any other party, in that it takes a while to get going.
Things are awkward at the beginning and you may even ask yourself why you came. . . Yet as you get a feel for the place and the people, you start enjoying yourself and at the end you were glad you decided to show up.
One suspects this was intended by the show’s creator and star Giema Contini, but it is close to the halfway mark the show comes into its own. Like a popular and anticipated guest arriving late at a party, pathos enters the narrative and that is when things start happening.
The themes become apparent, the emotions swell and you become more involved with what is happening on stage. Sure there was some physical comedy early on, some banter with the audience and some laughs, but for a while there. . . It felt like we were killing time. No more.
It must be said, Giema Contini elevates her material, she effortlessly moves from awkward embarrassment to shaking with barely constrained volatility, expressing goofy joy and heartfelt pain seamlessly. Giema is a powder keg of emotions barely contained and genuinely expressed – and that is before she sings. Backed by her orca-stra Peter Crees (music created by Nathan Stoneham), the music runs the gamut of genre with a few recognisable hits and Giema brings each song to life.
There is a neat alternative charm to the show; this is after all a birthday party for a woman who believes she is half octopus. There are a few colourful, smart looking props that look homemade but crafted with considerable care and skill. Giema herself is an actress and a comedian, and her commitment to relaying a certain vulnerability fits the story.
At the end of the night you are glad to have spent time with her and everybody else in the room – that is the sign of a good party.