ANYWHERE THEATRE FESTIVAL: A work about love, relationships, sex and confusion, told from the perspective of young people.
is a piece about love, relationships, sex and confusion, which makes it applicable to anyone with a heartbeat, but in this instance told from the perspective of young people. The only difference from the above being told from an adult’s perspective is that there is less bullshit and the perceived need to be ‘clever’. The only difference from an adult’s perspective on young
love is that it is real, without the need to depict young people as silly, naïve, evil, manipulative, backstabbing, mindlessly sex-mad, self-sabotaging stereotypes who have no concept of what these things are or mean.
It is also a bucket-load of fun and simply well constructed, identifiable story-telling.
A break-up, a friendship, an expectation and a refreshingly honest understanding of the nature of love intertwine in this story, told through a variety of real characters, strong images and a physical and narrative specificity that you would hope to see in professional productions.
The thing that I appreciated about it was that it is not the ‘in ya face’, confrontational “you don’t know me/ can’t judge me/ understand me coz you’re old and I’m young” cliché. It’s not the now expected, uninhibited youth catharsis of the Ontroerend Goed company’s Once and For All We’re Going to Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen, because young people are inhibited and don’t often tell you to shut up and listen. Most of them just experience their lives and don’t feel the need to justify it to anyone, making this revelation more poignant and honest. This performance invites you to look at the phenomenon of love from another perspective without trying to rub your nose in it because you’re older. Cornwell’s work is not trying to shock and agitate because it’s a story, not a lesson.
The performative work of the young cast is exceptional. Max Perdon’s honesty in having to break up with his girlfriend because he’s never understood why he’s ended up being with anyone is mirrored beautifully by Taryn Allen’s honest confusion as to what went wrong. The cringe-worthy way her character deals with this is balanced beautifully by the fact that her story is left unresolved, yet comforted by her mum. Elle Mickel effortlessly inhabits the misunderstood Alexis, whose parents are petrified of her becoming a lesbian because she idolizes her friend Amber. Her ability to naturally navigate the fine line between the comic and poignant shows a subtlety that is enthralling. Caitee Cox articulates a distressingly precise argument that love is not a permanent, but ever-changing experience and no less valid for that fact. Out of the mouth of babes...
Dale Thorburn, the oldest member of the ensemble, is so damned watchable. His precision in performance and connection with the audience drags you into his story of the young gay man with impossible expectations, particularly when he is forced to face his self-imposed limitations that end up sabotaging his own happiness.
If there was one criticism it would be that these brilliant young performers are playing the excellent script more than they are themselves, because you can really see how all of this material came from them. At times I was hoping they would remember that. At the same time I would challenge anyone to find stronger, more ridiculously capable young performers than I had the privilege to see in this performance tonight anywhere in the country.
On top of the fantastic performances and the beautiful script, as part of the Anywhere Theatre Festival this piece is performed on the roof of the Edge next to the State Library of Queensland with the Brisbane CBD as the backdrop. Throughout the piece I was connecting the setting to the inner city hangouts of young people, looking to find their own space for some privacy even though they mostly found this in the most public parts of the city. If you don’t understand what I am referring to, spend a Friday night in the Queen St Mall at the Albert St intersection and tell me you don’t see this story played out (in a much less interesting way) a thousand times.
This show proves that young people know what love is. It’s their love at that time, which makes it no less real, true, important or powerful than the love they may experience later in life. It is a show that defies condescension – one that you could see touring through high schools, everywhere leaving a trail of young people reassured that their experience was not only real, but necessary in all of its confusion, despite not being what adults said it ‘should’ be.
Riot Stage and Vanguard Youth Theatre
Directed by Katrina Cornwell
Starring Taryn Allen, Caitee Cox, Elle Mickel, Max Perdon and Dale Thorburn
The Edge Garden (on the roof of the Edge), Southbank
May 11 – 14
Anywhere Theatre Festival
May 5 – 14
First published on
What the stars mean?
- Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
- Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
- Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
- Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
- Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
- Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
- Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
- One star: Awful, to be avoided
- Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level