A pomo coming-of-age story, Strange Fits of Passion focuses on its nameless twentysomething heroine’s search for the perfect lay—or at least her first one. Head over heels enthralled with romantic poetry but sticking to her safe notion that love is but a patriarchal construct, her maturation is not simple. This shy character’s quest for the perfect sex mate/soul mate is quite tumultuous: One inept man is replaced by another disappointment, as not one of them ends up taking care of her “little problem” (that darn virginity being tenacious!). As with responsibility, she knows physical love is part of becoming an adult—but lost in her imaginary world built around antiquated verse, she has little clue as to how it all should happen.
Elise McCredie’s tale of urban young womanhood (set in Melbourne) is compelling and funny in its depiction of this gauche bookworm (Michela Noonan). She understands that life and dreams sometimes merge, but only by way of direct action. Jimmy (Mitchell Butel), her experienced, happy-in-love best friend, is there to offset her constant gloom, freely giving some of the affection and encouragement she craves when she’s able to come out of her self-centered shell. Only a cathartic final event involving Jimmy can break her comfortable ambivalence (which masks as frigidity). Flawlessly acted, Strange Fits of Passion could be a female equivalent of The Year My Voice Broke, only in contemporary gear. Noonan’s bittersweet face aptly renders the identity crisis this young adult is undergoing; she plays her for compassion rather than laughs, and shows flashes of the possibilities ahead if she can lift her nose from her books.