MICF: Gillian Cosgriff Actually, Good

by | Mar 30, 2024

BY Carissa Shale

With an array of awards to her name, it’s no surprise that Gillian Cosgriff’s one-hour musical comedy ‘Actually, Good’, is in fact, actually very good. Not only funny, entertaining, and lighthearted, ‘Actually, Good’ also acts as a large-scale communal therapy session, inviting the audience to practice gratitude by considering all the things in life that spark joy. Through introspective personal anecdotes and witty musical numbers, Cosgriff makes light of the many forms of happiness, whether it be the feeling of content found in the absence of pain or discomfort, the satisfaction in the simple pleasures, the melancholy nature of nostalgia, or the universal moments of pure joy.

The premise of Cosgriff’s show took shape on an uncharacteristically rainy trip to the Whitsunday islands with her partner. The pair practised positivity and passed the time by devising a game, listing 10 things that they like, from least to most. Throughout the show, Cosgriff explores the power, intricacy and revealing nature of this simple question, ‘What do you like?’, and invites the audience to volunteer their own list of 10 things, recording each one in a leather-bound book she dubs ‘The Book of Good’.

On this particular evening, the audience offered wholesome ideas, such as ‘the smell of fresh basil and tomato’, ‘buying bread that is still warm’ or ‘getting into a freshly made bed’, alongside the quirkiness of ‘peeling off the plastic on a new device in front of someone who hates it’ and ‘grossing out my science students with disgusting videos’. In a show that relies somewhat on the unpredictable offerings from the audience, Gillian expertly navigates both the sentimental and bizarre with ease, thinking quickly on her feet to find ways of circling each of the top 10 items back to her own carefully crafted narrative.

As a well-versed triple threat performer, Cosgriff shows off her range and power as a vocalist and her skills as a musician as she expertly weaves each musical number throughout the narrative. Her thoughtful and clever lyrics are complimented by Cosgriff’s quick wit as she interacts on the fly with the audience. While on occasion, the transitions between microphone, keyboard and loop pedal were a bit disjointed, this was a minor distraction in an otherwise polished performance.

One of the pure joys of this well-thought-out production is the opportunity to flick through the Book of Good after the show and marvel at the range of options people across the globe have offered. However, the true gift of this show is the many deep discussions that you’ll have afterwards as you too reflect on the items that might feature on your own list. There’s no doubt, this memorable show and its aftereffects will leave you feeling a touch of existential dread, and a whole lot of gratitude for the small, and big joys of life.

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