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  • Guy van Egmond

Review: Twenty Minutes to Nine

Updated: Feb 29

Words by: Guy van Egmond (he/him)

Content warning: suicide

I am genuinely lost for words, trying to describe Twenty Minutes to Nine. It was nostalgic, raw, grim and witty, heart-sinking and furious and so painfully wise. Absolutely phenomenal. 

The show is personal even before it starts. I’m sitting in the front of two rows of seats, so there’s no doubt it’ll be an intimate show. Amanda (Santuccione (They/Her), the show’s writer and performer) asks what we’re up to afterwards, if we’d be alright to wait another 5 minutes for the last few people. In the end it’s me, a mother-and-adult-son duo, three other women and Amanda. We chat back and forth about hills and penguins, public transport and spilt beer. 

Then suddenly, with only the quieting of the house music, it begins. 

Amanda knows their show so inside and out that it feels no different than our small talk just before. Effortlessly conversational, she lays out the foundations of her life: her father playing ‘Blackbird’ in the evenings, moving to the not-a-farm around the block, her brothers and their rock, jazz, blues, folk bands. From the get-go, we’re drawn into the world as they see it, the world they grew up in. Zero time is wasted with cliche or generalisation; her dedication to detail is vivid and so full of love. They also build their world with more than words. Through subtle mime and mimicking, she laughs at the way her mother would ask for a cup of tea as you’re just getting up, and send it back when it wasn’t perfect. Those habits that drive you up the wall. Those habits you didn’t know you loved until they’re gone. 

Because Twenty Minutes to Nine is, ultimately, a show about loss. A sharing of grief and pain and the confusion when people are suddenly taken from you, or choose to leave. Amanda knows loss more keenly than most others, and is entirely candid about it. Death took an incredible toll on their life, and this isn’t a miracle success story where everything is suddenly golden again. But it is a story that stubbornly remembers the good times. A story that tells you of the night that Jaspar was found, pauses, and then says “I met Jaspar at 18. He looked like a young John Lennon.” 

Beyond the memories and anecdotes, the show is a call to action. It’s angry, against a profit-driven healthcare system that gives people open access to suicidal amounts of prescription drugs. It’s angry, against a system that won’t accept a call for help as an emergency, not until it’s too late. But it’s angry, not resigned; her story is driven by hope. Grief doesn’t ever leave you, Amanda says, but it changes. You learn to live with it. It can take a painfully long time, but the hard times will pass. 

Most of all however, the show is a celebration. Through her multitalented performances, Amanda remembers and honours the beautiful people they’ve shared their life with, those still at the party and those who’ve left. Her guitar echoed her father’s serenades and made soundscape backgrounds for her poetry about femininity. Their beautiful accordion performance remembered music lessons with their grandfather, and the last conversation they had with their grandmother. Amanda Santuccione is one of the most talented storytellers I have ever met, who’s undeniable affection and dedication left tears prickling in my eyes, as our gentle claps became a rapturous applause. 

Twenty Minutes to Nine is still running, from Thursday 29th till Sunday the 2nd at two/fiftyseven on Willis St. I urge anyone who can to go see this truly shattering, heartfelt performance. 


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