In order to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their Deadset Theatre Company, founders Zoe Muller and Matilda Butler have constructed a showcase comprising 25 or so young writers, directors and performers. The result is a stunning demonstration of the diverse talents, energy and creativity of an age cohort from mid-teens to mid-twenties. As such it fits the philosophy of Deadset Theatre Company to perfection.
Each writer/director introduced their piece. There were nine short plays on offer of which four were monologues. Subject matter was diverse but relevant to both performer and audience. Without exception all captured audience attention and all received well deserved appreciation. I cannot comment on them all nor can I mention every writer and performer. As always there were presentations and individual performances that captured my imagination and which made this evening at the theatre one to remember.
The stage-craft of the three young women Jordan Hatswell, Bobbie Viney and Matilda Butler in Mia Ellis’ sobering and cautionary tale “She Warned Us!” was exemplary. As individuals or in chorus they delivered a powerful message. With her “Fifty Ways to Leave” Eliza Barnes has crafted a well modulated script highlighting the banalities of domestic arguments with their embedded awkwardness and uncomfortable truths. It was delivered with notable chemistry and pace by Franca Lafosse and Connor Pullinger.
Sam Ewart’s offering “I Remember Clifford” is interesting and brim full of potential. This playscript from a year 11 student is promising indeed and I believe another draft or two will afford the necessary polish. James Pearce maintained a clearly drawn and well focussed character in his minor role as Charlie. Writer Toby Vincent tells us that “Lady in Red” is inspired by his love of the silent movie era. It relies on mime and movement to carry the narrative. It certainly captured our attention and imagination. The stark contrast of a splash of red among the black-clad characters together with the dominant symbol of a single red rose was engaging and effective. I liked it a lot!
Of the four good monologues I was particularly impressed by two of them. Jack Spanton’s “Monday Night” is a tightly written and compelling piece. The use of a poetic construct, particularly the peppering of rhyming couplets throughout is an effective and contrasting tool within such a dark and gloom-ridden theme. It was expertly realised by Andre Chaney in a well articulated and immaculately timed manner. An example of the actor being at one with both the written material and its direction. Very competent. The finale “Grippy” is written and directed by Chloe Zodrow. Its sole performer, Melissa Pullinger, is both “grippy” and dippy in a little comedic gem about obsession and compulsion. This was the excellent conclusion to an evening chock full of theatrical morsels.
The programme of vignettes devised, written, directed and performed by Zoe and Tilly’s peers was an outstanding success. The group’s collective energy, mutual support, and love for the theatre was palpable. I can only assure all involved in this process that your next time, whenever that might be, will not only be better but it will be all the richer for this collective get-together. A great learning experience for all concerned and a sneak preview into an exciting future for the Performing Arts in this State of ours.