Perth Festival Review: "You Know We Belong Together" is a welcome breath of fresh air
You Know We Belong Together is a wholesome, boundary-destroying show. It radiates with the pure pleasure of existing and performing to a real audience of real people. It’s ultimately a deeply-personal, life-affirming piece about love and acceptance.
The play is the life story of one Julia Hales, a 37-year-old woman who has watched every episode of Home and Away since it first aired in 1988. While her own story serves as the backbone holding everything together, it also offers a chance to explore how Down syndrome has affected her life, the life of her friends, and the community at large. The play is interspersed with interviews, musical passages and the best audience interaction you’ll ever find in a show.
Hales is an absolute star of a host, having you laughing with tears at one moment then crying with emotion the next. Her mediations on the meaning of love, family and disadvantage are enlightening, teaching everyone a lesson or two about judging a book by its cover. Meanwhile, her co-stars are all given their time in the spotlight to show their skills, from dancing to palm reading, revealing the tremendous depth of talent they all possess. They are all extraordinary individuals, in every sense of the word.
You Know We Belong Together is educational, vibrant and welcoming. On the other hand, it also stares defiantly in the face of ableism, saying “everything you can do, I can do better.” …And Hales is such a great performer, Home and Away would be foolish not to cast her. Definitely another must-see from the Black Swan Theatre Company.