Zoe Coombs Marr — Gone Off
This is a true story, Zoe Coombs Marr tells us at the outset, but if you’re seeking a tale of redemption you’ve come to the wrong place. She doesn’t find herself at the end. She doesn’t become a better person.
In her mid-20s, Coombs Marr breaks up with her girlfriend and finds herself smack-bang in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. She vacates her share-house and pawns her possessions in a fit of resolve, leaving her unemployed, sleeping on friends’ couches and stealing imperceptible morsels from each foodstuff in their fridge.
But when the neighbour's cat starts speaking to her (it meowed "Hellloooooowww," she swears it), she knows it’s time to move on. She purchases a gunmetal grey Mitsubishi Pajaro, “the coolest car I’ve ever owned”, and takes to the open road.
Coombs Marr takes a quintessential Aussie experience — the idea of discovering one’s true self on the highway, with the wind in your hair and the sun in your eyes — and makes funnies by ripping the cliche apart. She ends up in a pub in Coober Pedy, getting inelegantly wasted with locals who could be characters from Deliverance, surrounded by scorched desert plains that look something like the end of the world.
While Coombs Marr’s 2011 show And That Was the Summer That Changed My Life showed definite promise, it was still a little raw. In Gone Off, however, she really hits her comedic stride. Stripping away any bells and whistles, she adopts a pure storytelling mode that allows the strength of her endearing personality to carry it through. The result is heart-warming and hilarious in equal measure.
Coombs Marr may insist this isn’t a story about redemption, but don’t believe her. Sometimes you have to vomit in the desert to truly find yourself.
Gone Off will be performed until April 22 in the Backstage Room of the Melbourne Town Hall. For bookings or further information, visit comedyfestival.com.au.