How We Survive: Basement Theatre, 29 October 2019 Theatre Review

If you’ve ever wanted to feel empowered, heartbroken, and loved all at once, then Olivia Hall and Carrie Rudzinski‘s How We Survive is the show for you!

How We Survive is a feminist spoken word performance currently showing in the wonderfully intimate Basement Studio. As soon as you walk in you are engulfed into the relaxed yet strongly feminist world of the piece, which is made clear through the simple set, decorated with theme-fitting props, including a copy of Chanel Miller’s Know My Name, and a mug printed with “SASSY AF.” The pre-show house music tied the whole atmos together, with bangers like Screwed by Janelle Monae featuring Zoe Kravitz, and what I delightedly discovered is the original version of Dancing On My Own by Robyn (Yeah, the Calum Scott version is a cover!!).

As the lights go down, you are bombarded with a string of news and media sound clips that frankly, made me feel angry about the way women are often so wrongly treated in this world. It was perfect. After their opening poem, Olivia and Carrie immediately break the fourth wall and casually chat with the audience. This helps the audience feel welcome and safe in the space, which is important for a show that not only evokes and displays such raw emotions, but also has a couple of (sometimes comically) controversial cards laid onto the table.

There were countless great moments and lines in the show – I don’t even think I could pick a favourite poem. But two that almost had me in tears are Love Poem After Seven Years, and Hermione Granger and The Patriarchy Takedown. I love how, although the show started by poking at my inner angry feminist, it went on to unwrap the many other aspects of life as a woman on this simultaneously unjust and beautiful planet. One line that really did burn into my brain, however, was one that also inspired me while writing this review: “I am a self-doubting writer, but I write anyway.” How We Survive positively overwhelmed me with such a range of emotions that I wasn’t too sure how I would encapsulate it all into a cohesive review, but here I am, riding the wave of Carrie’s words, and writing anyway. So, thank you.

Despite a couple of minor slip ups with lines where the duo speak together, the delivery was slick and the words seemed impressively fresh even after 6 weeks of touring the country. If anything, the aforementioned stumbles added to the show’s authentic and down to earth quality. It was gorgeous to see the love and support Olivia and Carrie have for each other shining through in these moments, where they simply laughed, breathed together, and continued on.

I would like to give a shout-out to the brilliant women who created How We Survive, Olivia Hall and Carrie Rudzinski. I found it was the perfect balance between serious and inspiring, beautiful and relatable. This show spreads an endlessly important message that is relevant for anyone and everyone – so what are you waiting for? Go get your tickets!

By Chloe Bagayas

How We Survive is playing at The Basement Theatre, Auckland through 2 November.
Tickets are available HERE.