A school girl sits on a wooden bench between two painted roads. She reads serenely, bathed in yellow light, until the arrival of another student disrupts the peaceful scene. A punk rock riff ensues, lights turn blue and fog fills the air in an opening number about getting into trouble. It’s 40 degrees on a Tuesday morning. The bus is on its way.
For 90 immersive minutes, the audience waits for the 107 bus with Joy-from-Bullcreek (Melody Castledine), a reader of books whose lack of autonomy is wearing thin; outgoing Olivia (Lukas Perez), whose sans-tie uniform is accompanied by a rainbow-strapped ukulele and an empathically rebellious nature; intense Zoe (Sun-Mi Clyburn), whose theatrical personality cocoons several inner conflicts concerning identity and privilege; and prickly Charlotte (Ruby Short), whose insecure fragility is hidden behind a carefully constructed veneer of overt hostility.
107 is a celebration of all that is beautiful and broken in the realm of uniform policies, cliquey behaviour and the lingering Lynx-stench of Australian high-schoolers. It explores issues ranging from the pressures of parental expectations to privilege in the arts, as seen through the lenses of four distinct personalities who engage in hilarious antics and bond over shared miseries, waiting for a bus that may never arrive.
Teeming with Perth-specific observational humour, this inherently comedic drama elicits and maintains emotional engagement throughout its entirety, with audience members – and actors – in literal tears at various points. Highlights include rebellious socks, Olivia’s Evanescence-esque drug song, and Zoe’s moment of solo poetry – alliterative and powerful – during which the light fades to a single focused spotlight.
Katrina Johnston’s lighting design is electric, with a vivid interplay between colour, music and movement creating a strong aesthetic representation of the overall narrative. Michele Gould’s nuanced writing encapsulates the unrelenting series of vaguely interrelated breakdowns and triumphs that characterise adolescence, revealing themes of conformity, racism, gender identity, mental illness and the frustrating sense of inadequacy that occurs when individual powerlessness is combined with a passion for action against systemic injustice.
Four accomplished performers portray the exuberant anguish of adolescence with comedic aplomb as their characters lament the differences between storybook love and the comparative loneliness of real-life relationships, while paradoxically experiencing the most intense friendships they are ever likely to encounter.
107 explores these four poignant perspectives to the tune of a playful pop-punk soundtrack, composed by Gould and produced by Luke Minness. Every song carries its own thematic weight, with catchy riffs and punchy lyrics. Standout number, ‘The Movies’ reveals shared emotional states between antithetical characters. ‘Woman, Girl’ speaks to the uniquely fraught and intrinsically awkward era between two age-bound extremes. ‘Vote the Greens’ is thematically self-explanatory, as is ‘Golden Triangle’ for anyone familiar with Perth’s affluent Western suburbs.
If the members of US rock band, The Donnas, were queer Australian high-schoolers having life-changing epiphanies at a bus stop, their songs might aurally resemble the 107 soundtrack – 19 examples of anthemic irreverence with anti-patriarchal-flavoured power chords and spirited vocal arrangements. If 107 was a movie, it would gain an instant cult following.
Vivacious, loud and unpretentious, 107 contains friendship, feelings and copious amounts of fun. It will resonate with music lovers, single-sock-wearers, LGBTQIA+ youth and past/present teenagers of all varieties. Bonus points if you live along the Freo line.
Presented by Socks & Sandals
The Blue Room Theatre, WA
Writer and Composer: Michele Gould
Director and Designer: Daley Rangi
Vocal Director and Arranger: Vanitha Hart
Music Producer: Luke Minness
Stage Manager: Ari Rahim
Lighting Designer: Katrina Johnston
Cast: Melody Castledine, Lukas Perez, Sun-Mi Clyburn, Ruby Short
107 will be performed until 19 November 2022