A relevant and fast paced musical not to be missed!

From the book by Jonathan Larson comes Federation University’s production of Rent. This rock musical remains relevant today as it addressed issues such as homelessness, the rise of business and police brutality. The show successfully incorporated references to things such as Donald Trump to bring the audience further into the conversation.

The story followed a group of friends in New York City in the 80s and explored a year in their life, particularly during a time of social uncertainty and the threat of disease like AIDS affecting these communities.

Characters such as Colins and Angel played by Billy Sloane and Jonathon Shilling were played impeccably. The chemistry between these characters can make and break the show as they represent Rent’s severity and fun.

Songs that were performed notably were ‘La Vie Boheme’, ‘Santa Fe’ and ‘What You Own’. Songs that were more effective in this portrayal were songs that had the main characters at the forefront. Similarly, some songs such as ‘Rent’ fell a bit flat due to the large ensemble on stage that hadn’t been broken with levels. The choreography, similarly in songs such as this one felt a bit too rehearsed and contradicted with the emotive power ballad of the song.



The use of the theatre’s entrance as an entrance for actor was smart and allowed for interesting blocking particularly in songs such as ‘Christmas Bells’ in which the homeless circled around the fire pit only to bump into vendors who push through them to set up on centre stage. Benny, the ‘yuppy’ of the show, stayed on the platform, higher than the rest of the ensemble. It truly showed the productions ability to set up the power dynamics in a clear way.

Another standout performance was Maureen played by Madeline Pratt who added to the fun and bawdy side of the show. Her rendition of Maureen’s “Moo with Me” performance was phenomenal and her voice in songs like ‘Take me or Leave Me’ was full of gusto and strength that added to the overall performance.

A way in which future performances may improve was in the technical side such as the follow spot operation as some actors found themselves without lighting in crucial moments. Another way would be the relationship between Roger and Mark. The ‘broing out’ moments when they were pushing each other felt a little off, at some points I wished I could tell them to stop and talk to each other like normal human beings. Nevertheless both actors Jonathan Reeves and Daniel Agar redeemed themselves in songs such as ‘What You Own’.

This performance of Rent is impeccably pulled off by Federation University. Everyone worked hard on this performance and it showed. This clever, relevant piece of theatre is highly recommended for anyone looking for a good night out.

Words by Maria Dunne.

Rent is now showing in Melbourne until May 6.