Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Fever Dream, Rao Morusupalli, Melbourne Fringe 2023 ★★★☆☆

A bizarre and confusing experience, I walked out feeling like I had just woken up from a Fever Dream. Rao Morusupalli a twenty-four year old Australian with possum-like energy, going after his dream of being a comedian while his conservative family believe he is at Karate lessons, had us, well… feverish.

We live in a whimsical world where being a millennial seems to be a cosmic joke that we are all in on. We walk around with the fevered minds of those that survived Y2K and are now trying to survive our human experience. Which, as we note it today – is in itself, a fever dream. When you think of how far we have strayed from what it truly means to be human, sadly, in order to survive we need to laugh. The existential crises faced by our generation is a mural painted with broad strokes, trying a bit too hard to be avant-garde. Yet, somewhere in the chaos of crippling student loans and the inability to afford housing, there are moments of genuine humour.

Fever Dream is performed by an ambitious twenty-four year old that is advertised as a “comedy gig, a unique journey through the wild, wonderful, and often downright weird realities of being a millennial.” While, yes – it does this, my mild feverish confusion lies within the fact that Morusupalli belongs to Gen Z. It seems as though the use of “millennial” is more indicative of a shared life experience rather than a specific generational reference. The topics touched upon in the performance could have easily transcended generational labels. There was nothing particularly exclusive to millennials, nor was there anything that distinctly spoke to Gen Z. Unfortunately, Morusupalli simplifies complex issues rooted in the legacy of boomers and those preceding them, as we are left to figure out how to walk on the bricks laid by the older generations, and uses it as somewhat of a marketing tactic. Albeit a marketing tactic that worked, it got me there, but the payoff seemed a little underwhelming.

Certainly nailing the energy of an undoubtedly exhausted millennial. Humorously and in such a matter of fact way, Morusupalli speaks on our current rent crisis, our managers having a future fear of AI stealing our jobs and speaks to social media as a safe cocoon. This is all done with repeated words and blunt humour that you couldn’t help but laugh, or just really, really want to. This all really adds to the feeling of the fever dream, sometimes you just were left a little…… “what??”

Amidst all the unpredictability, Morusupalli beautifully points out a reminder, something that is a commonality of the younger generation, as a rule rather than an exception. Through this unique and unexpected journey we have a tendency to feel a bit lost, but in the lost, we have managed to hang onto that childlike sense of wonder. From one of Morusupalli favourite songs, an iconic sound familiar to almost all our generations childhoods, smash mouth: All star, from the classic and timeless movie Shrek, to the way we take in our world and where our priorities lie.

This absurd comedy show speaks on just that. Our balancing act we are all trying to get right. Our need to be seen and our need to survive. We are in the middle of worlds. It is a relatable story of self-exploration. Many of us familiar with the feeling of living for others while still trying to find what makes us happy. Outside of the feeling that all of us could relate to all these hard experiences, and some moments of genuine humour, I didn’t feel like there was too much in there. It didn’t feel to dissimilar to when a friend and I hang out and sarcastically complain about the world and how different it would be if we ruled. But maybe that was just it, maybe I was expecting a lot of laughs but it was just meant to feel like hanging out with a slightly awkward, very exhausted friend?

The ending was my highlight. Rao Morusupalli has a skill he tapped into at the end that I believe would amplify the shows experience if he leans into it. If he can lean into it in a playful and amusing way – it could nail the comedic value he is aiming for. Morusupalli gave a wonderfully articulated speech about how important connection is, including the connection with yourself. It got wildly real, startling fast. But he had me hooked into this speech. This speech of caring, of not losing yourself, of finding what makes you happy, of not giving up, because whether we like it or not “The years start coming, and they don’t stop coming”

Then, after a hasty thank you and goodbye…. Rao Morusupalli was gone. While we all sat there a little confused if he was coming back, the perfect exit to this Fever Dream.

Recommended Drink: Absinthe mixed with a gingerale and lime, so it kind of looks like you have your life together, but in that cup is pure chaos.

Performances of Fever Dream have now concluded at Melbourne Fringe 2023. Keep up with Rao online for future showings.

Sarah Kher-Bek

Sarah is a lover of the arts from Australia, excited to experience all fringe has to offer and immerse herself in the culture of this unique expression voice, heart and character. She enjoys involving herself in every kind of performance, reserving a special place in her heart for spoken word, expression through movement, coming of age and all things gender and exploration.

Festivals: EdFringe (2022), Prague Fringe (2023), Melbourne Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: She/Her