He’s the guy next door that just happens to be an Olympic gold medalist. Matthew Mitcham is back at Fringe World Perth with his new show ‘Under the Covers’. He recalls the roller coaster of an experience that has been leaving diving and you can’t help but be taken along for the ride.
My last experience with Matthew Mitcham was when he was still doing shorts on Disney Channel – telling children that with hard work and training you can achieve your dreams… ‘Under the Covers’ rips opens the lid on that idea and tears apart the illusion that elite athletes are superhumans achieving all of their dreams and are, as a result, eternally happy.
A high school reunion that left him feeling inadequate compared to his peers was the catalyst that spurred into leaving diving a mere six months before the Rio Olympics. A decision that has forced him to start making decisions for himself after twenty structured years where all decisions were made for him.
“If you can’t be a good example, be a horrible warning”
Whilst there were moments of brilliance, and Mitcham is equipped with a voice that hits all the right notes in all the right places, the same can not be said for ‘Under the Covers’. Many of Mitcham’s jokes did not land as squarely as they should have. The show felt confused, seemingly unsure of whether it wanted to be a comedy cabaret or a serious therapy session. Some jokes seemingly being made to bring it back from the brink of a full-blown existential crisis.
If you can’t be a good example, be a horrible warning has become Mitcham’s mantra. Wanting to make an example of himself for people who are in the midst of their own mid-life crises or for those who feel shoehorned into situations in which they feel trapped, encouraging them to take a leap of faith to chance their lot. Whilst advocating for the plight of athletes that struggle with exiting their sport and readjusting to a world which, for everyone else, is so normal.
Supported by the very funny pink haired, cross-dressing Spanky, who kept the comedy flowing with wit, costume changes and humorously juxtaposing her outward appearance with a deep voice. The use of his covers of pop music as well as personal renditions added a fantastic originality to the show and Mitcham was very personable. Exposing himself on stage and opening up about personal battles is no small feat; and coming from professional sport where you train and train and everything comes down to ticking boxes in order to be successful. Then, moving into the entertainment space, where there are so many variables and there is no sure formula for success is a massive change, one for which he should be congratulated for doing as well as he has.
If you are an athlete or interested in learning about the trials and tribulations faced by professional athletes wanting to exit their sport, this show is definitely for you. Mitcham provides some excellent insights into the sports industry and calls for change, the only way that’s going to happen is by getting the word out. So, find yourself some tickets and get down to the City of Perth Town Hall.
Tickets start at $25 and are available here. Showing until the 19th of February.