Despite her brief tenure as our first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s influence on the Australian landscape will resonate for many years to come. So much so that her famous misogyny speech spurred on a remarkable play called, Julia. Currently playing at the Southbank Theatre in Melbourne until 13th July the play is both captivating and genius.

Justine Clarke has a mammoth task ahead of her but lands each line with ease and perfectly emulates Gillard’s voice. This play shows what mastery can be achieved when each element comes together seamlessly. Playwright, Joanna Murray - Smith is pure genius and weaves together tales from Gillard’s childhood in Wales to key moments in her political career. Directed by Sarah Goodes, the stage is sparse yet effective with the mirrored backdrop that doubles as a projector. Jessica Bentley pops on and off stage briefly helping to drive the narrative forward and assist with props and minor outfit changes.

In the first 15 minutes of the play, “Don’t Change,” by INXS fills the theatre as Clarke and Bentley dance on stage reminiscing about the 1980’s. It here for me that I realise I’m hooked.

The play serves a wider purpose other than politics and focuses on gender equality or lack thereof in Australia. Gillard was lauded with obstacles and roadblocks, simply for being a woman. She was attacked for having big thighs and small boobs, sentiments her male predecessors would not have been subjected to. In her time in office she passed 570 Bills, including parenting payments, asylum seeker policy, Mineral Resource Rent Tax, National Broadband Network, and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Gillard achieved more than Rudd, Howard or Abbot, yet was ridiculed. Abbott gave Gillard a tough time whilst in office and Clarke was able to emulate his smug smiling face that garnered a cheer from the audience.

Clarke’s ability to commit to memory Gillard’s misogyny speech and deliver it so powerfully demonstrated her prowess and ability to command an audience. It’s productions like this, showcasing unstoppable women and created by talented women with powerful voices that inspire hope in me for the future.