By Nick Pilgrim
In writing this piece, one specific source sprang to mind.
In 2016 I attended a monologue at The Malthouse in Southbank called Every Brilliant Thing. With writing credits shared by Jonny Donahoe and Duncan Macmillan, their story details how a family tragedy when Donahue was seven began to shape and inform his way of seeing the world. Perhaps as a coping mechanism, he started to make a list of everything. Not only did this process help make him happy, but it was also a means of keeping his clinically depressed mother safe from self-harm. When that wasn’t enough, he began to ask other family members, then friends, and total strangers to add to his list. Soon, it became a world-wide phenomenon which resulted in him recounting his story in the form of the writing team’s show.
Gillian Cosgriff is an accomplished actor, singer, composer, and writer.
With an impressive list of stage, television and musical credits to her name, her most recent work includes being part of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child and in 2022, starring in Tim Finn’s musical three-hander, Come Rain Or Come Shine.
Actually, Good was inspired by a close personal friend and the special gift they gave Cosgriff during Melbourne’s first lockdown in 2020. A self-confessed pessimist, this pal’s gesture turned her mindset around 180 degrees. So, instead of dwelling on the negative, Cosgriff expanded on this line of thinking for herself.
The show’s simple premise asks audience members to volunteer their own top ten joys in reverse order. On the evening I attended, some of these experiences or triumphs included:
- A well-tailored jumpsuit
- Beating the microwave before it beeps
- Buying a novel and spending the rest of the afternoon reading it in silence
- Ear buds that perfectly fit
- Flipping your pillow in the middle of the night to the cold side
- Getting a booth in your favourite dim sum restaurant without having to wait
- Starting a book which may not be right for you but soon realising it is exactly right for you
- The perfect margarita
Her act is peppered with a handful of original tunes, all in some way, shape or form, musically dedicated to this ongoing and growing top ten list. Further still, Cosgriff shared several anecdotes and tips about how she and her partner coped during and after Melbourne’s many lockdowns. Another story about making use of a telephone therapy hotline, was as absolute cracker.
Ultimately, this hour-long experience is about enjoying the moment. Or if that isn’t possible, making the best of a challenging situation.
Cosgriff’s infectious charm and gentle humour is very much a product of her twenty-something generation. Spontaneous and present, she seems to extract excitement from even the smallest details.
Interactive shows make me nervous at the best of times. However, Cosgriff’s glowing charm and enthusiasm will put even the most awkward souls like me at ease. That audience members freely offered their suggestions, demonstrated this aspect in spades.
The Butterfly Club in Carson Place is the perfect venue for this kind of material. Up close and personal, you feel like her show is created especially for us. Which, without giving the final punchline away, is alone worth the price of admission.
Playing for the duration of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Actually, Good would also work in any music or cabaret festival or indeed as a stand-alone entity.
Don’t miss it!