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Stage to screen and back again: 'Reality theatre' to debut at QPAC

Culture

Fourthcoming is the newest production from shake & stir, an interactive rom-com with four different endings that was inspired by its touring manager Johnny Balbuziente’s Married at First Sight experience.

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Balbuziente plays four major characters who go on dates with unlucky in love leading lady Gwen, played by Cece Peters.

The audience get to vote on their phones to intervene in the choices that Gwen makes, keeping the actors and the audience on their toes.

Johnny Balbuziente, shake & stir’s Touring Company Manager, was shot into the spotlight this year becoming a fan favourite on Married at First Sight (MAFS) and still happily married to his partner from the show Kerry Knight.

He said Fourthcoming is based on his experience in the show, and in bringing a bit of reality tv to the stage, shake & stir’s intention was to open up the theatre to new audiences with a show that was cheeky and lighthearted.

“We’re playing on that notion of universal love in a modern setting. With the challenges and struggles that people have to overcome, to be able to open themselves up enough to find the right person,” Balbuziente told InQueensland. 

“I actually play almost close to eight different characters with the four main love interests and a few minor roles here and there. Developing their characteristics has been super fun,” he said.

“The characters all have their struggles, they will have flaws and it’s my job to make the audience fall in love with them despite all that.

“The coolest thing about Married at First Sight is that it is a social experiment on the nature of love and Fourthcoming follows that except the audience are the experts, they get to dictate what happens and whether certain characters get a second date or not.

“It’s amazing how you can have these eight people in an experiment and they all have very different experiences and the exciting thing about it is seeing these different people interact with each other.

Cece Peters will star in Fourthcoming (Image: Supplied)

“As an actor I believe it’s important to have as much life experience as you possibly can and put yourself in challenging situations to see how you manage.

“For some people that means going on the most controversial reality TV show in Australia.”

Fourthcoming is a new production from shake & stir theatre co, known for productions such as A Christmas Carol, Animal Farm, Fantastic Mr Fox and Jane Eyre and was written by their co-Artistic Director Nelle Lee.

Lee said it was exciting to be working on a comedy which puts the woman in the driver’s seat.

“We want to create something that is unique, sexy and fun, but also heartbreakingly honest. So often, ‘the female gaze’ is depicted as emotional, intimate, soft and feminine; but why can’t it also be loud and stimulating,” Lee said.

“Our female protagonist Gwen is your average person, there is seriously nothing particularly special about her from the outside.

“As our audience is given a glimpse into the inner workings of her mind, they become her best friend, her sounding board, her confidant – which allows us to journey with her as she explores some of her wildest fantasies, but not before she deals with deep-seated insecurities.

“We want to shine the light on the fact that for a lot of women, fraught relationships with food, sex and self-worth are not only common – but perfectly normal. Whatever normal is.”

Fourthcoming opens at QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre on 23 October and will run until 7 November. 

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