17 May 2010

Review: Moth

Malthouse Theatre and Arena Theatre
16 May 2010
The Tower, CUB Malthouse

If the teenagers on Glee leave you wondering why your high school memories aren't so perky and choreographed, Malthouse and Arena theatre's Moth is the perfect antidote.

Declan Greene continues to fascinate and seduce Melbourne theatre goers by consistently surprising us with unexpected stories. Moth is far removed from his uber-high-camp Sisters Grimm work, darker than his 2009 Fringe hit A Black Joy and more grounded in reality than his 2009 MTC Young Artist commission  Pretty Baby.  But it's still filled with authentic characters dragged in from the limits of social acceptability,  gooey visceral imagery,  odd pop culture references, absurd reality bluring and a dark dark humour that leaves you almost hating yourself for laughing.

Sebastian (the perfect Dylan Young) is too weird to ever be accepted and clinging onto the equally-desparate friendship of Claryssa (the equally-perfect Sarah Ogden), the emo wicca chick who has let herself become too weird to ever be accepted. These are the kids who no one ever sat next to at school, whose parents have no idea that their babies are in so much pain that they won't recover, and who leave me so glad that I was a teenager before the internet and its mass humiliation.

With a story of bullying too familiar to teens on the outer and too vile for many grown ups to even comprehend, Greene plunges into the fractured minds and perceptions of these souls and takes us to a surreal world where Jesus and Saint Sebastian have chosen a misfit to warn the world of its pending destruction and two young people scream for rescue and forgiveness.

Greene writes difficult material that could easily be lost in a moosh of preachy compassion or over-arty pretence, but the Arena creative team of Chris Kohn (director), Jonathon Oxlade (design), Rachel Burke (lighting) and Jethro Woodward (composition) are at one with their writer and create a world where the morphing of time, space and character is natural, expected and so beautiful that you understand why moths fly to blinding light.

Like young writer Polly Strenham's teens in That Face, currently at Red Stitch, Greene (who is an old fart compared to Strenham) writes teenagers who aren't silly or pretty or full of impossible dreams, and force their audience to understand their extreme, illogical and exaggerated reactions and feelings to the world they are growing into. Greene leaves us relieved to have grown up and embarrassed to know that we still don't want to be friends with a Sebastian or a Claryssa.

Moth is rightly selling out, so book now so that your not among those who wish they had seen it

This review appears on AussieTheatre.com.

Photo: Jeff Busby

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