REVIEW | Theatre Camp

The cast of THEATER CAMP. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Theatre Camp

Full of Laughter, Nostalgia, and Over-the-Top Drama

Reviewed by Brendan Daynes

Amid the sun-kissed panoramas of upstate New York sits AdirondACTS, a captivating refuge for budding artists, offering an enchanting experience that bridges the worlds of theatre and camaraderie. In a delightful twist of fate, Theatre Camp becomes the embodiment of creative chaos and heartwarming companionship when Joan, the indomitable leader of this scrappy camp, slips into a coma. Enter her bewildered son, Troy, a “crypto-bro” whose financial prowess far outstrips his knowledge of musical theatre.

The film’s premise itself lays the groundwork for a journey that’s both heartwarming and uproarious. Within this endearing narrative, the presence of potential financial turmoil adds depth to the unfolding events. Troy, as unfamiliar with theatre as a fish is with bicycles, is unwittingly thrust into the role of the camps leader, aligning with a motley crew of idiosyncratic educators and spirited students. The relentless march of time and escalating pressure converge, making the camp’s survival contingent on weaving together a theatrical masterpiece before the curtain rises on opening night.

Molly Gordon and Ben Platt in the film THEATER CAMP. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

The brilliance of Theatre Camp doesn’t merely rest in its intriguing premise, but in its execution that seamlessly merges comedy, heartwarming moments, and an affectionate nod to the theatre world. The tongue in cheek mockumentary style gives rise to a cinematic gem that tickles the funny bone while simultaneously tugging at heartstrings. This playful approach also adds a layer of delightful irony to the narrative. The self-awareness and subtle winks at the audience capture the essence of a play within a play, offering a refreshing take that doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet retains the sincerity that theatre aficionados crave.

Aptly titled, the film taps into the essence of theatricality, embracing over-the-top performances that evoke the quintessence of live theatre. The cast are masterful in their exaggerated yet endearing portrayals of the characters that lend an air of charm and familiarity, echoing the very essence of the theatre experience.

The film’s humour finds its roots in relatable moments, theatrical mishaps, and the interplay of characters who each bring a unique flavour to the stage. The onscreen chemistry, a blend of established talents and rising stars, is undeniable and contributes to the authenticity of the theatrical backdrop. The performances are a testament to the cast’s dedication, resulting in laugh-out-loud moments that resonate with anyone who’s ever stepped foot in the world of theatre.

For those familiar with the intricate dance between spotlight and shadow, the film strikes a chord on myriad levels. As a theatre kid, it’s a nostalgic journey that evokes the camaraderie, the passion, and the charm of the stage. The film’s predictable yet endearing nature captures the very essence of the unpredictable beauty that often graces the theatre world.

Theatre Camp is a love letter to theatre and a celebration of the remarkable alchemy that transpires within the realm of performance. The film is a must-watch for anyone seeking a hearty dose of laughter, a touch of nostalgia, and a celebration of the theatre’s ineffable allure. It is an ode to thespian spirits, a tribute to the beauty of camaraderie, and a vibrant reminder of the magic that unfolds when the curtains rise.

Theatre Camp played as part of Melbourne International Film Festival which ran in cinemas in various locations around Melbourne and also in some regional locations from 3-20 August, with a selection of films also available to be streamed online from 18-27 August. For more information on the festival visit

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