Navigating relationships, whether they be familial, platonic or romantic, became more complex with the rise of technology. Missed phone calls on the landline, lost letters in the post and misheard gossip in the town square are no longer the dilemmas that plague our interactions.

Instead, modern communication is inundated with self-editing and superficial moments of connection. All the Things I Couldn’t Say, an original work by local theatre-maker Katherine Sortini, is an intelligent and poignant exploration of brave, split-second acts of honesty, and the “what if” moments that generate fear and leave us with regret.

This 50-minute production is made up of a series of vignettes, each a brief snapshot of interactions where characters are on the brink of confessions: a voicemail left by a daughter for her mother, an argument between a husband and wife about morality and privilege, even a comical musical number that verbalises the harsh truths of a friendship.

Between each vignette, real unsent text messages that Sortini gathered when creating All the Things I Couldn’t Say are projected on stage, accompanied by a sombre and emotive soundtrack designed by James Seal.  These moments are particularly affecting as most audience members probably have similar unsent messages sitting as drafts in their phones.

While this is a tech-heavy production, tech and lighting designer Mark Oakley has created a remarkable spectacle that thoughtfully complements the narrative and performers, rather than overpowering them.

The set, designed by Katherine Cooper, imaginatively captures this technological influence as well. The action unfolds in the middle of the stage, in what resembles a white box – it has white flooring and white sheer-screen walls that are used as the backdrop for projections. All actors remain on stage for the entirety of the production and, when they aren’t part of the action, they sit along either side of the stage in the dark, scrolling through their phones as the white light from their screens illuminate their faces. The white box between them acts like a portal where the real-life impact of their virtual interactions take place.

The cast is an impressive ensemble comprising Liam Combridge, Kidaan Zelleke, Zola Allen, Kate Bonney, Caithlin O’Loghlen, and Arran Beattie. Together, the actors bring the script to life in a wonderfully balanced array of performances that are all equally charming and compelling.

All the Things I Couldn’t Say is an endearing and painfully relatable production. As you hear audiences laugh knowingly at the awkward moments and offer sympathetic sighs at heart-breaking ones, there is no doubt Sortini and the cast have tenderly engaged with a prevalent aspect of modern life and love.

All the Things I Couldn’t Say is at RUMPUS until March 6.

Read more 2022 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews here.

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