Rita Dimasi

MALTHOUSE: Declan Greene is a playwright that just seems to be getting better and better with every work he creates.
Declan Greene is a playwright that just seems to be getting better and better with every work he creates. His ideas, his script, his use of language seem to all become more honest, more certain and more astute with every new character he creates. Moth currently at the Malthouse and a co-production with Arena Theatre, is the standard story of that vulnerable, overpowering stage in life when one is no longer a child, nor yet an adult. We are in the land of adolescence - where the pressures to conform, integrate and be “normal” intensify to a point of madness, both literally and idealistically. And it is towards an awareness of this pressure point that Declan Greene drives the audience of Moth. A story that is both commonplace in its narrative (desperate disenfranchised kids looking to leave a mark – any mark - on the world) and yet compelling in the telling. The stage sees only two characters Sebastian (Dylan Young of Black Lung Theatre fame) and Claryssa (Sarah Ogden). He is the weird kid on the block and she is the Emo-Wiccen-chick who hates everybody. These characters are not new, chances are we have all seen them in our lifetime at school or even in the workplace. However the desperation and control both Young and Ogden produce in their performance is mesmerising. Young in particular offers insight into a character that is more complex than would first seem. A young man who is probably too smart and too self-aware – all of which seems to lead to failure in a world fixated on assimilation. Ogden as the unhappy Wiccan is probably the most straightforward of the two characters, she has more actively chosen her path in life. The tragedy in this story seems to lie more heavily with tian, a butt of society, who wrestles valiantly with rejection and neglect. There has been some discussion by those who have already seen Moth about why and if these characters needed such a strong narrative to add weight to their pathos. Some thought it was unnecessary for Sebastian to see salvation in a moth in his room, and to talk about a doomsday and massacre. Perhaps it might have been more pure to leave this work as a simple deconstruction of abandoned youth or marginalisation. After all the key indicators of their desertion are familiar fodder for the 6’ o’clock news. Stories about teenage boys who become mentally unstable and kill their classmates or get killed by police is old hat for sure. However to my thinking the fact that Greene included such a tight narrative around his characters has made them even more real. From the mean and hurtful dialogue they exchange, to the details of their humiliation and the desperation of their revenge, it was all perfectly real for me. Strong direction by Chris Kohn, Set and Costume by Jonathan Oxlade (including dirty tracky dacks and worn shoes), as well as Maryanne Lynch’s skill as a dramaturgist all come together perfectly to reflect a reality we all know, but one many of us luckily will never have had to experience. MOTH BY DECLAN GREENE DIRECTOR CHRIS KOHN SET & COSTUME DESIGNER JONATHON OXLADE LIGHTING DESIGNER RACHEL BURKE VIDEO DESIGNER DOMENICO BARTOLO COMPOSER JETHRO WOODWARD DRAMATURGE MARYANNE LYNCH CAST: DYLAN YOUNG AS SEBASTIAN SARAH OGDEN AS CLARYSSA TOWER THEATRE MAY 13 – MAY 30

About the author

Rita Dimasi is an Arts Hub reviewer.