Meet a 17 year-old girl who doesn’t feel she is like her peers. She doesn’t watch Home and Away or have posters of Zac Efron on her wall. Instead, she watches Sophie’s Choice and has posters of Meryl Streep. She hasn’t found her place in the world yet, but Meryl helps her to believe anything is possible. Come along to her final performance for her drama class…
I See Me & Meryl Streep is a one-woman cabaret devised and performed by Alexandra Keddie. Keddie has always loved musical theatre, so it was a natural choice to write a show that allows her to sing. However, it took a while for the show to take shape.
It was several months into the writing process before Keddie discovered what the piece was actually about. She explains she showed her work to “a lot of people I look up to, and they were very generous with their knowledge. Then it flew.” Ten months after the initial concept, and 80 drafts later, I See Me & Meryl Streep debuted in Melbourne at the Butterfly Club.
Speaking to Keddie when she’s at the airport ready to fly up to prepare the show for the Queensland Cabaret Festival, I ask how much of the show is autobiographical. “So much!” she laughs. “My fandom was less specific, but there was idolisation… I’ve taken little stories, slightly tweaked, from my own life”.
Like the 17-year-old character she plays in this show, Keddie obviously adores Meryl Streep- but why?
“She’s the most celebrated actress,” Keddie explains
“She’s a beacon of ‘the best’. She first worked with Jane Fonda and saw how Fonda’s activism outshone her work, and Meryl Streep’s political beliefs shine through her work….Celebrity is a religion and it’s important to think about who you’re looking up to. It influences what you do. She [Streep] never forgoes her integrity.”
I ask Keddie what her favourite Streep film is- she hesitates, “I think Kramer vs Kramer, but Death Becomes Her is heightened brilliance…” Eventually she decides that while Kramer vs Kramer is the best film, but Sophie’s Choice is Streep’s best performance – “The performance of a lifetime. It’s powerful”, says Keddie.
Moments of all these performances (and many others), along with plenty of music featured in Streep’s films (from ABBA, Sondheim and Ray Charles) will come together to make a cabaret show for anyone who feels afraid to let their freak flag fly.
As the great Meryl Streep herself said “The minute you start caring about what other people think is the minute you stop being yourself.”
I See Me & Meryl Streep plays for one night only at the Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, 4 June, and then at The Space, in Melbourne, 21-22 June. For more information, visit the Brisbane Powerhouse website.