Disclosing mental illness, that pandemic thing and opening doors to love.

I was fourteen when I knew something wasn’t right with me. It was not only the teenage blues and it wasn’t just hormones, all the things they dismiss in young women of that age. They weren’t normal reactions and I was known as the lizard queen by my younger sister for my rabid & feral disposition. I was sixteen when I was initially diagnosed with depression and anxiety after I made my first attempt at suicide around that age.

Almost me except I wouldn’t eat Felice.

The SSRI antidepressant that was meant to fix my anxiety and depression screwed me up by giving me the energy to act on my volatile feelings because I hadn’t had the necessary psychological interventions to change the thoughts of a creative teen with a death wish. I spent an interesting weekend in a psych ward, only to go back to year 11 English on Monday morning as my life was still normal. and be Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. Everyone thought I was hilarious because I was so darkly humoured and I had her broken heart, because my whole world had changed. Of course my identity was “so similar” to the heroine of the play because wit is wit, joking about being in the mental health ward was a good one since the devil was going to send me back to the gates of heaven as an old maid. I was okay back then to let them think that. I was damned in my own estimation but at least I was funny.

Amy Acker as Beatrice, Much Ado (2012)

My life as a chronically ill woman started before I could legally drink as I struggled with medication side effects, conflicting diagnoses between a pair of competitive psychiatrists and my state got progressively worse until I’d just turned in my mid-twenties and moved near my parental unit because I was going utterly nuts losing my mind. I found someone progressive and professional who took their time to listen to my story; I was told I had bipolar disorder and complex PTSD, that was a relief in all candour.

River Song, Doctor Who, BBC.

At first my illnesses was a monster with a name that I could slay; this was was before I discovered it was a much easier beast to have a relationship with as I recovered. It was a pretty intense teen love/hate affair but as I reached closer to a state of wellbeing, the less hate & drama there is. It’s an ongoing process the relationship and it took me decades before I figured out loving it, was loving me and the fierce battles became unique user features and strengths when I leaned into myself. There was never anything wrong with me, I was just a limited edition model.

Elsa, Frozen 2, Disney.

It was years of therapy (and so many more to go) and medication tweaking until I can say I feel like I’m the closest to what my definition of normal is. Life for me is sometimes like being the emotional equivalent of port-wine flavoured jelly, though tomorrow I might be raspberry or strawberry or a slice of New York baked cheese cake. It’s not certain. I’m the Gump Chocolate Box. And that’s the point, you just don’t know and that’s normal (but at least there is chocolate and I’m delicious.) When your life is always an uncertain flavour and jiggly dessert, you learn to adapt despite the grief cycle of living through the crisis while everything is shaking up. I’m an expert in living with life quakes.

Sainsbury’s Summer fruit elderflower jelly

One way to cope with the uncertainty is to look at the myriad of amazing free courses & meditations out there on the Internet. You can find think pieces on like this but YouTube has been my garden of knowledge, however it does not replace talking to a professional and get help however you can or need to. But life will carry on even if you do collapse, even if you congeal for a single morning and are floored by the c-19 event. Why am I being harsh saying the world doesn’t give a damn if you fall? Because while this pandemic isn’t a choice in itself, we mostly can only manage it ourselves on a local scale.

The Alanis Morissette one hand method of clean.

We are all going to fall at some moment in it, we can choose to be a much more loving, compassionate and courageous responder even in our crises and while life will go on if you melt, don’t fear you’ll be alone. As a society, the isolation of physical distancing has made us so much more open to what human connections are than ever before. We can have two choices here, we can choose fear and stockpile toilet paper while the less fortunate miss out. Or we can choose love in the face of adversity, we can choose to be our best selves in not necessarily the best situation but hoarding Quilton like Smaug is entitled. Smaug is choosing fear.

Why am I telling you all this? I was never told I didn’t have to disclose my mental illness as a teen and I faced a lot of stigma from the medical profession (and probably ex-boyfriends); I wasn’t told that it didn’t have to be the thing that defined me so I was a broken creature and my recovered perspective on the world being a place full of love didn’t occur to me until much later on. Prior to that I was an entitled, demanding bitch because I had this situation thrust upon me that somehow made the world owe me for a suffered experience I didn’t choose. I was an effing special snowflake (love Fight Club and how the toxic masculinity taught me to be totally adversarial) and I was less than kind to anyone non feline until I took responsibility to be loving, accountable and full of grace. Not my natural temperament but grace is love in motion and I could at least move towards a better user experience.

Death of Klaus & Elijah, the Originals, CW.

I’ve not talked much about stigma, it exists, it’s yuck and much smarter people have written about it so I encourage you to seek out those amazing resources. I’ve had a dear family member (LL) diagnosed with the corona virus and I’m watching them struggle through grief and pain as the thought process I see is as if though they recklessly caught the virus and then intentionally to expose young children in their care to it. She’s taken her diagnosis as part of her identity (hopefully not merging with the virus to become an alien queen because that’s my thing!) and I just want to say you don’t need to let this be the thing that defines you.

Seven of Nine, Star Trek: Voyager.

All COVID-19 is a virus, it’s not even alive. It’s just this weird little biological machine that replicates in humans with (hopefully) no awareness at all. She is an awesome family member and the least evil of my relatives yet she is identified herself with someone who cultivated the virus deliberately and without a care. It couldn’t be further from the truth. People care for family, neighbours, friends, strangers (thanks lady who sold me one extra body wash at the supermarket). Small acts is a great place to start the movement from the Lizard Queen to the Lady of Winterfell.

Seven of Nine, Star Trek: Picard

The corona virus is so serious and more than a type flu and there’s a dark side to the pandemic; I’ve read letters published from medical practices in the UK that ask elderly and terminally ill patients to sign do not resuscitate orders because in crisis cases, respiratory assistance priority will be given to the young and most likely to survive. This to me as someone who is entwined with her conditions sounds just a little like “Lebensunwertes Leben”. It’s easy to identify with your diagnosis and labels such as mentally ill or disabled when you’re still becoming an adult and perform the part. Part of me wishes I’d had the option of choosing to where and when to disclose because I’m disturbed that we are in a medical situation where we are choosing who lives and dies based on the lack of resources. This is not what I signed up for and it’s what I’ll actively protest against as someone disabled and chronically ill. I’ll protest because they want to murder my family members.

Part of living with my conditions openly has meant that people have written me off as useless at this adulting thing yet living in a state of chaos is what I do for a living and my neurodiversity is actually an amazing user feature to have most of the time. Be it COVID-19 or bipolar affective disorder, I am an expert in existing in uncertain times and I see this adversity as an opportunity to be better: every encounter at the supermarket to buy loo roll or pasta sauce are all opportunities for us as individuals and a community to rethink the way we reframe the concepts of communication, etiquette and politeness built into our culture. Let’s be on the light side of history that shows what we can do as a considerate collective species and not the kind that future students writing essay compares the treatment of certain C-19 victims as the pandemic”untermensch”. Because for I one, very much want to live.

Clara Rose Santilli, “Cassowary” blogger, 02/04/2020

Postscript: Mentally and physically I am safe and well. I’m embarking on this journey by choosing love if you tune in tomorrow.

Me: the arts in the time of C-19, Malcolm Gladwell at the darkest hour and a lot more love is needed.

So it’s 2 am, no actually 3 am. If you’re like me at all then you become haunted and haunted some more by events you failed at or went wrong at. I can’t calm down and I’ve tried to air crash investigate the systematic failure of how I went from loving the local arts scene to how the events with a certain lower cultural arts festival went so wrong; I still don’t know what I did exactly wrong. I stare in the mirror and count my daily errors, what misdemeanours did I do and was that in the behaviour of the category felonies and just one more faux pas is going to land me in a gulag… I’m obsessed, I’m driven, I’m compelled to find the imperfections I can fix. I don’t need Coldplay and the colour yellow to fix me. I fix me.

Yet with the vacuum of information, I can’t do the work to improve my user experience as an effing robot advocate. You might say without data or even anecdotal evidence, I can’t improve. I’m in a circular loop of GIGO and I feel like my life has come down past the idiom you can be right or you can be happy, but that everything I do is flawed now. No redemption arcs for me. So I dissect and analyse everything I do now and I fail at it all, every time. Because you are going to fail what you perceive to be perfect. We are well past let it go, we are into the bit into being called into the unknown because (she has insomnia with her sense of adventure).

Elsa, Frozen 2, all images owned by Disney.

Mentally I’m becoming so very ill from this and taxed by my paranoia from my cPTSD and it makes me wonder if people are revelling in my unravelling. But that is me, it’s 3.25am and I’m no nearer to sleep so I’m listening to Malcolm Gladwell being interviewed by Joe Rogan. I enjoy his sociology but one thing really struck me underlying all the science and his analysis of dumb crap humans are prone to do, that Gladwell has this intense love and compassion for humans even as his analyses of situations of what I would term our worst f***k-ups. This is what my old counsellor B. meant by catching ourselves gently when we fall. I want to be Gladwell.

Indiana Jones and Dr Jones Snr. “Imhotep,Imhotep.”

The qualities I possessed and considered values of a relationship with leadership were of an adversarial nature. I thought I had to be the best: the most competitive, the most intelligent, the one who answered the questions in class the way I thought the lecturer would want me to. I thought I needed the gold stars, to be in the programs at uni with the word “ambassador” (believe me it’s not pretty crying in the toilets at uni for 20 minutes when you know outside there are other students that look up you are hearing your meltdown because you did all that work and still weren’t good enough for the imaginary line). They were very much isolating and part of the toxic masculinity that Taylor Swift describes in her song, The Man.

“I’d be a fearless leader,
I’d be an alpha type…”

There is a point you do need to calm down. There is a point where the courses you did to tick off this imaginary list of certificates of approval or media just don’t matter at 3.44am on a Wednesday in the time of that corona virus. There were three things that ended up being important to me as I calmed down from being an adversary. The first was that people cared for me (so many that I was surprised by the outpouring of love, thank you everyone who has reached out and I plan on tracking a few more of you down). I need you all to survive this.

Clara’s mum. Clearly not a cassowary because on a boat a cassowary would probably be a disaster…

The second is I didn’t care if I was a leader because it was my job, I cared for them in a very compassionate way (or at least I tried to) because that’s who I am. The very last is that I have to stop caring about what other people (“authorities”, “the competition” “my adversaries”) are thinking about me & engage in the things that bring me joy in the arts in the age of social isolation (The Piano Guys, Johnny Weir, Malcom Gladwell, Briar Noelet) because they aren’t the sole authorities to arbitrate my love, my creativity and somehow I’m working in road transportation Government of Australia but it’s been hard, it’s been a bitumen.

T-Swift’s image from You Need To Come Down.

In my professional opinion, the world is ending as we know it; but image of the end of times, the one we could have doesn’t have to be a finality of humanity but it would be human life actively, collectively, on an improved planet. We have plenty of time to think about how it is up to us as individuals we figure out social isolation, to create new systems and better defined communities and mutual cooperation among all, not just certain, hairless monkeys.

We can have the film version of Tomorrowland (2015) where a machine in the film is a harbinger of doom that is telling humanity that the world will end through some sort of projection technology (oh hi online media!). Yet it’s creating a self fulfilling prophecy based on original good intentions, that through warning us to avoid our doom, we become so used to the idea we are all f**ked that hasten the end of life on Earth as we know it. But we can be better than these stories (at least there aren’t Triffids I suppose, I hate gardening.)

Tomorrowland, Disney.

Instead of speculative fiction where we seem strangely to get kicks from seeing the planet under-threat constantly (looking at you Marvel), we can all be calm enough all that we can see the visions of humans who love humanity, that see the in reality as it should be as Barak Obama, Gladwell, the Gates, Dr Phil and Oprah do in every day interactions.

Social scientist, Brené Brown says the only critics who count are the ones in the ring with you; so I’ve come to the conclusion that it is important for me to keep up with education about the pandemic and the COVID-19 provisions of services I use like my university and medical service. But I’m not in the ring with the brilliant minds working on solving this crisis and the decision makers who are guiding us through the process of hopefully flattening the curb of infection.

Cattening the curve of corona.

However I am in the ring with the artists, Humanities academics and disabled activists that are trying to imagine a future with worth having. In order to do that, I found a lot of peace in opting out of every single C-19 alert and only get my sources from trusted venues like the World Health Organisation. What I decided to do was stop projecting the fear of the media’s apocalyptic build up and create a social wall of things that I could go to when the doomsday program was being projected. The media updates were doing opposite or calming me the heck down, it just tired me out. And so here we are to me calming down. I’ve begun a join a movement of global love. I’m not going to lie, the meditation is going to be a challenge for me.

Finally I just need to calm down enough to let the love I have for other people shine through. I just want to be liked and cherished I’ve said here yesterday and that loneliness cuts through my existence, like Gladwell, I love human beings and I need to be calm enough for that love to rise to the surface. I have work to do on myself but simultaneously I think I can also be a light for others to see by as I explore leading from love.

My niece, the future.

Clara Cassowary, some chick with a blog. 01/04/2020.

For my Mature Age Student Family.

Hi. Clara Mature Age Students Officer of Flinders Uni Student Association here. Since I’m a well known for my pink hair and bad English lessons, I want to particularly reach out to the mature age students (in fact all of you at the Oasis actually) who for April 2020 graduations were canceled on such short notice. What you have done is an extraordinarily brilliant thing, to your complete tertiary study and have earned the privilege of wearing the silly hats and itchy gowns as a right of passage that shows you have completed (or progressed to) your next adventure. But that’s all they are in the long longterm, a symbol and ceremony.

I found that as a mature age student at the alma mater of mine (UNE) that I felt the sacrifices to get my work done difficult, but also I grew as a leader of a community when the younger students came to me for solace and advice. I know there’s a huge number of our unofficial tribe of big brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles at Flinders who do so much for our younger members with thoughtfulness and compassion.

So perhaps you will miss out on dressing up like a Harry Potter extra, but make no doubt that you have graduated and completed the real right of passage as our community recognised your progress and achievement. Well done. You made a difference in someone’s life. Congratulations. This might grad photo for the curious with my first little adopted sister, Sammy.

Clara, some cassowary with a blog trying to put love out into the world, 30/03/2020.

I’m goddamn prehistoric bush chicken…or Clara’s right of minor reply to Fringe 2020 media pass bulletin.

I’m exhausted but in all my laying around with *not* COVID-19 pneumonia and I remembered my mother told me a story about these fictional thornbirds that would impale themselves on thorns singing their most beautiful & only song in the entire lives. To me was there was something NOT romantic but really troubling from an evolutionary perspective. Like how does a species keep going if that’s a reproduction strategy…never mind but even back then, shitty metaphor for beautiful things. For many years as a Guide Leader I was Lyrebird but if you’ve ever heard me sing, that was totally false advertising (pretty sure it’s why the folks got me that clarinet). I can’t sing but I can honestly and kindly write, that brings me to the arts I loved so much, the Adelaide Fringe 2020 was supposed to be a special year for me. I was excited and I was thinking about a career in the arts as maybe a publicist or producer. They have negatively effected my reputation by suspending my pass based on specious allegations but the scales of justice usually balance themselves in the least expected ways & experiences and I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

For whatever reason, things went horribly wrong with Fringe, a there was a review someone disliked and my media pass and accreditation was suspended, never returned to me with any actual explanation and I was not given a written or verbal reason why, with the artists identity redacted. No right of reply but I’m safe now, not suicidal at all and not intent on using my super villain powers on myself. Okay I fell asleep with pink dye in my hair over night and it turned out amazing…

I’ve realised my spirits animal is not a cat but I’m a cassowary and nothing defeats that motherfucker of a giant bush chicken, even if they want to.

I’m not broken. I’m pretty strong now I’ve changed the narrative and I’m than more safe. I’m feeling strong, capable and I’m maybe a little pissed (my definition of little will have definite mileage to yours. FYI, Cassowaries can run 31 miles per hour and jump up to 5 feet in the air and sound that can be heard on a distance of 3 miles. They also have excellent eyesight, bitches!) I’m fucking unstoppable (unless you’re Steve Urwin with a broom).

The night that Fringe bitch took away her toys without explanation or a formal complaint, I was distressed to the point I considered an overdose on my daily medication due to the fact I was just…done; I’d topped up the cats food & water hoping someone would check in on them in time before they ate me (I’m ok with that) and said farewell in no uncertain terms to my mother. We’ve come to this conversation several times this before in case I got my wish for a break from mortal coils, stretched out minds with no resilience left and an end to my emotional suffering that outweighed my my strength that day. I woke up the next morning and told my father none of the overdose or my death wish. I didn’t want to die, just not live in a reality that was hurting me from the lack of compassion and grace.

Someone like me doesn’t get a death that easy, I know, I’ve tried before as a teenager. The only reason there’s no ragged red scars down my arms is I’m too strong for that. It’s I’m so resilient that it would take a lot to ruin a body infused with such strong urges to survive and it hurts a lot if you attempt to do the worst. I know from the spicy Asian beef anaphylactic episode that dying probably is going to be awful. My pain threshold is ridiculously high but my mental threshold is even more resilient and compassionate than I knew. The intention for self destruction has always been there ingrained since I was a teenager but the action to ruin myself is not.

I couldn’t even if I wanted to, I mend faster than the bits of my heart and mind tear, I have an elastic heart as SIA would say. Also pain aversion helps. The kind of person I am is a little too indestructible for deliberate death measures, heck the tram hitting me didn’t kill me, it just gave me an epiphany and direction in life.

I’ll admit in my weak moments I’ve imagined jumping so many times off my balcony and realised, it’s not high enough and broken legs are no fun at the very least. Mind you self isolation is going around so it would be pretty awful to end up at a hospital. But but last time I broke my foot making tea was hideous because there was no way to carry the cup and use my crutches and that was a little metatarsal injury. Also moving back in with my parents isn’t very destructive bush turkey of doom.

So what now? I am safe. I’m strong. I have no plans to hurt myself, though my ptsd is back so getting treatment for that is a priority. I intend to seek more than therapy and keep being the kind of person suicidal behaviour cannot weave itself into her destiny. I believe in destiny, we call it a wyrd in my belief system which is easiest explain as Viking and where we honour family and community. I know the story of my destiny is that I’m a community leader who is resilient in the face of trauma and adversity through the networks I have a gift for building.

So in my typical candour, I feel that I have suffered the betrayal by the Adelaide Fringe and part of me desires to see how much blood, sweat and tears I can wring from the situation because it wasn’t right, it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t timely. People sometimes need to learn from the hard times and this is a teachable moment for everyone and for me, it’s to let some things go. Not everyone is going to like the review you write, or what you do as media, when you do it, it’s often like slipping your head voluntarily into a noose and waiting to see if you survive. The trapdoor snapped beneath this time but I’m hard to kill. I know. I’ve tried. Some of us just needed some fabulous emancipation. I’m feeling that way now. I’m actually thinking my publicist company might be called Cassowary Productions?!

So I’m going to the roots of who I am through my ancestral lines and writing my story. I am needed in COVID-19 social isolation as a student representative by academic descendants and friends. I’m needed by my friends and family at the Oasis as part of the Fam. I’m needed to show resilience and bravery in uncertain times like my grandmother, Marion, did practically and wisely because we just have to get on. I need to be a blessing upon everyone like my mother, Eve, the light in the darkness. I need to share my compassion, engagement, generosity and energy like my grandmother Annita and the wisdom of her second son with his formidable and quick mind. I need to be here to be a sister and auntie.

But today the arts have weaved themselves into my wyrd and I’m running a C-19 musical refuge in honour for my grandfather, Neville. He loves music the way I do, he interfaces through the world the way I do. So in his honour I’ve gone on social media and created a list of 20-30 different creative arts (music & dance), history and science posts where other people can find refuge and relief from the constant misinformation and terror of pandemics. Listen to it and have rest, FAM.

Don’t worry about me because I’m always going to be fine despite the darkness I have because Odin and Freya have willed it so. The sunshine I have to counter it l, is in the legends of my cats that involves me in their wyrds, my music is a saving grace & refuge, my books are a journey and there is no desire to test how high my threshold can get for suffering because I have learned to endure from Loki and have relief from Sigyn. Love you all. I will prevail and blessings upon you!

Clara Santilli, some person with a blog.

Fringe Flashback 2018: Entropy by the TEOC Circus.

Fringe Flashback for 2018 season: Entropy @ Gluttony

TECO Circus, image courtesy Fringe World 2020

Entropy, a show by new Melbourne act the TEOC Circus was quite possibly the best thing I’ve seen so far at the Adelaide Fringe in 2018. The quartet of young female artists have produced a show that is refreshingly engaging and playful the entire way through the chaotic performance.

TEOC Circus have managed to capture the dramatic side of physical theatre with superb facial expressions and acting by every member of the sorority where you could ascertain some of their personalities. They are dynamic performers who stunned me with their strength, agility and technical perfection.

The choice of music was eclectic and the girls made good use of it along with employing the entire space of the the Speakeasy stage with brilliant choreography and acrobatic tricks. The use of props was a little mischievous, clever and I particularly enjoyed the clowning with the apples.

The show was so well done that it was a seamless performance and held my attention rapt for the whole hour.

Well done!

Them’s the apples, 5 stars!

Clara Santilli, The Lonely Archaeologist reviewing for All Over Adelaide on 07/03/2018. Republished with permission 05/03/2020.

All copyright on images used belongs to the TEOC Circus and was done by Aaron Walker Photography, Melbourne, Australia. As a critic he understands the mechanics of dancers, circus and other aesthetic athletes. He can be found at https://www.aaronwalkerphotography.com.

Hump Day Flashback: Balmy Bazinga Nights and lazy Burly Daze.

Bazinga! Nerdlesque Nights @ Gluttony, season over 2018 as well as Immortal Kombat in 2020. Check out the wide selection of Cabaret, Dance, Circus and Burlesque shows around Adelaide for the 2020. Now I’m seeing glitter everywhere, go it’s a sign.

Pizza never looked so tempting.

Bazinga Burlesque have been a fixture at the Adelaide Fringe for the past seven years and I’ve been meaning to see them for about 3. On Saturday night I finally dragged myself to the Cornucopia at Gluttony and part of me is kicking myself that I didn’t go sooner because this show was an all star line up of Adelaide’s best and most inventive burlesque performers having a good deal of fun.

Image courtesy Immortal Kombat,2020.

Parts of the show were hilariously clever such as Mema Sifa’s award winning Princess Peach number and some were utterly ridiculous like when Spongeboob offered to make a sandwich for an audience member. I particularly enjoyed Pixie Piper’s technical brilliance in both of her performances as Sailor Moon on the pole and the fiery Daenerys Targaryen. Host Angus managed to keep the audience engaged and energetic and survived the pun-ishment of the intros for an alumni cast of Adelaide’s best burlesque dancers. Go see them in next year’s production!

Image of Immoral Kombat participant on stage.

Tasty like mature cheddar, having reached full flavour and strength, 5 stars!

Clara Santilli, The Lonely Archaeologist first published for All Over Adelaide 07/0/2018 and republished with permission 04/03/2020.

More about the ladies latest project for Immoral Kombat in March 2020: https://www.bazingaburlesque.com

Blunderland! Curious and curiouser. Don’t be late…

Blunderland, Gluttony at 5th – 8th March 2020, (9:40pm) and 10th– 15th March 2020, (9:40pm).

Image courtesy of Adelaide Fringe, 2020 season.

As a reviewer I usually meticulously research the type of show I go to intensely. Right down to the socks the cast will be wearing and then where can I source the same glittery socks (ASOS according to Facebook). Instead one fine evening I was strolling through Gluttony because everyone needs a Disco hot cinnamon doughnut between reviews and I came upon, Will. It was a tense experience. Everyone at Gluttony is an intense experience.

I feel like Darlinda would ease my pain!

I did not give Will a doughnut and he did not persuade me with an enchanted offer of free tickets, not a part of me was swayed on my mission to see Idris Stanton in Switch It. I think of it often now when I’m at a Boost juice and they get my name wrong on my lychee crush because my real name has a silent O, Idris’ comes to mind and I suggest you should see both shows. Mind blown! Big mood.

Will was pretty hot in a sexy and in my fever pitch, a dangerous playboy bunny type. I was hot too but I was likely developing pneumonia at the point and distracted by the rabbit ears) so I was delirious and said, “OK.” Blunderland was cabaret. How bad could it be?

Maybe these lovelies should have been a hint?!

When not living the high paid lifestyle of a small independent media celebrity, I have a number of very innocent and delightful friends from a multicultural friendship class run by Deb, our amazing chaplain. I am trusted by my friends to be of good character, discerning judgements and something something a moral guardian of the pure innocents in our circle of friends. One of these friends, “Q” I’ll call that him to protect his identity, is adventurous and wanted to see what I do as a reviewer. So he and I went adventuring to Gluttony but we didn’t sing the Moana theme because I’m saving it for another time. The first show we took in was a “safe” show full of love and pop music sung by Phi Theodoros. We were buzzing. Cabaret was catch of the day.

Well it was if you were fishing in the garbage of Cirque du Soleil, mixed with every bad fever, acid trip or nightmare you’ve had and cover it in unicorn snot then you get this show. I was relieved when Q said that Blunderland was the best night of his life in Adelaide so far (he’s only been here 2 months but it’s a small city!). And truthfully I’m inclined to agree with him entirely. After I got over the panic in the first five minutes of an interpretive dance version of that scene at the end of The Fifth Element (but with added rainbows), there was so much to take in like starting to breathe again and putting away the defibrillator; I started dancing too in my chair. I’m an Olympic level athlete as it’s part of my review process and not because the trash (in the best way) has infected my sensibilities.

In particular, I loved the innovation on a lap dance competition in engaging audience participation though I’m removing half star because I didn’t get to give a clown a lap dance. A girl clown too, it’s so post feminist and queer. I had so many macabre dance moves to show the audience that expressed my need for the patriarchy to fall. I only review so that one day someone might ask me on stage and I can then pretend I have an artiste’s pass. Call me if you need some ideas on chair dancing or lap dancing. I have some exciting things you can do with sleeping cats.

She was ephemeral.

The traditional burlesque routine’s dancer was enticing and her old Hollywood silver screen glamour was out of place in a town like Blunderland. The fact is there was so much to take in and so much to love that it felt as it was designed to leave you with sensory overload; if not mentally overload as Queen of the Borg and the downfall of my cube.

The aesthetic space Blunderland occupies was welcoming in a really grotesque way, it felt like you probably would be accepted by those people if you had some minor talent but the moxie to add glitter and rainbow budgie smugglers while playing the maracas in sequinned socks and you’d be in the glee club that is Blunderland. I don’t recall Will being anywhere in a rabbit suit but do I really care? Nope I was too busy feasting on the bread and circuses in an old world spectacle.

“Being a part of something special does not make you special. Something is special because you are a part of it,” 4.5 Stars.

Tickets available:


Clara Santilli, the Lonely Archaeologist, published on 04/03/2020.

All images retain copy right and intellectual property to their original photographers and have been borrowed from the Facebook pages of Will Spartalis and Blunderland in 2020. Thanks goes to them for making this review possible.