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Jude Perl - Participation

25 March 2021 | 12:09 pm | Joe Dolan

"If she wasn’t so damn funny, she could’ve milked the music industry for all its worth years ago."

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Fresh off her debut spot at the prestigious MICF Gala, Jude Perl is primed and ready to showcase her incredible array of talents in Participation Award. Using comedy, music, dancing (of the boy band variety), Perl takes her audience on an incredible journey through primary school life as an outcast. It’s not a new story, by any means, but the Melbourne comic makes the tale so hilariously personal that it becomes completely original.

Opening with a brilliantly scathing take on the foundation of the education system, Perl proceeds to lead her punters through an hour of clever comedy, pointed satire and damn catchy tunes. If she wasn’t so damn funny, she could’ve milked the music industry for all its worth years ago.

Participation Award could slot itself into a season of Big Mouth without anyone batting an eye. At the same time, however, it perfectly encapsulates the quintessentially Australian '90s upbringing. From the nationwide obsession with sporting events to the standing tall, little battler mentality of misplaced confrontations, Perl’s recreation of pre-teen anxiety is damn near perfect.

While the show as a whole follows a rich and formulated narrative, the climax of the piece feels somewhat abrupt and disjointed, but then this can be emblematic of the experiences shown on stage themselves. It is difficult to glean whether this was an intentional decision from Perl - to showcase that the experience of childhood bullying rarely results in a happy ending (or even any true ending). There is, thankfully, no sense of sitcom-like resolution that would leave the audience feeling awash with saccharine niceties. By the same token, there are many questions about Perl’s story that are left unanswered. Perhaps, fingers crossed, a well-deserved sequel is in the works.