The Last Word

The Last Word Rating

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With an eye-catching poster featuring an image of the star throwing a bunch of SCRABBLE tiles off the board into the air, one could be forgiven, walking into the Butterfly Club, on a cold Melbourne night, that the show, like the poster, may just be a bunch of ideas and various tiles haphazardly thrown together in the hopes a decent score is found. All doubt was removed at the second “The Last Word” star and creator slinked onto the stage.

It’s not often a performer that you are not familiar with, takes a stage, and with literally just a raise of their eyebrow has you giggling and instantly at ease, this is however the feat that Imogen Whittaker managed in her sold-out Monday night performance.

With nothing but a microphone and a piano, along with a whole bunch of therapy behind her (though, as Imogen tells us, she was dumped by her therapist- ouch!), she launches into song and starts the show. Within just a few bars, you know you are in the hands of an up-and-coming pro, instantly the clever, humorous wording has you thinking you are in the hands of a star like Tim Minchin. The music and lyrics already feel like they belong in a smash hit like Matilda (we won’t talk about Ground Hog Day), and the audience takes an audible sigh of relief knowing that the hard slog to get out on a wet Monday will well and truly be worth it.

Through the next 50 minutes or so, Imogen Whittaker draws you in with her charm, honesty, and a little self-deprecation. Managing to tell stories that are uniquely her own, though with wording and feelings that like today’s Astrology Star Sign forecast, the audience could easily interpret to be current and applicable to themselves.

A particular favorite was – Last First Date
“I think I’m going to get RSI
From how many times
I swipe left and right
And put on my nice shoes and dress
Just to be in evidently unimpressed”

A hilarious ode to the pitfalls of dating and kind of a Groundhog Day (not the Minchin one- no, this one wasn’t tedious) of first date after first date after first date and how they all start to feel the same, the guys all sadly similarly bland and not right and how Imogen wishes that she could find the one and have her “Last First date”. Knowing laughter from the audience and friends nudging each other in agreeance throughout.

The Last Word

Other stories of the wacky world of dating are put into song- like the one about the guy she dated for some time, to then find out the reason he was emotionally unavailable was that he was married and bumped into him and his wife at a country bakery where he introduced her as “a family friend”. Awkward. But hey, this ‘ACE’ of a guy brought her a piano- so I guess he is ok?

Another about a failed ‘showmance’ in what we are repeatedly and cheekily told was “the worst production of FAME ever staged” that leaves Imogen wondering if she was in love with the actor or the character. Then there is “Drunk Call”, awaiting an ex who has moved on, but she “Leaves my phone on even though I know you are out, in case I’m the one you‘re still thinking about”.

With brilliant lyrics and music that have you reminded of Missy Higgins, Musicals like Once and Matilda, and an instantly likable personality that draws you in, this was a joyous night at the theatre held by a performer who knows her talent and leans into it with grace and confidence. Despite some sound issues, from the microphone not sounding on for the first number to then barely being able to hear the wonderful piano playing for a few numbers, this is a highly recommended show.

“The Last Word” like the show’s promo poster, is a collection of letters and words of Imogen Whittaker’s experiences. She played a brilliant game and clearly won with the tiles of life that have been dealt her way.

I can’t help but feel that she still holds her ‘Q’ and ‘Z’ close to her chest. But I tell you, when she does decide to put them on the table, not only will she win again, she will score big and it will be one of the most exciting games. This is not Imogen’s last word, and I eagerly await her next.

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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