21 July 2011

Review: Crossed

Crossed
Platform Youth Theatre, Appetite and La Mama Theatre
11 June 2011
Courthouse Thearte
www.pyt.org.au

Platform Youth Theatre creates theatre about the issues their young members feel strongly about. Chris Summers wrote Crossed after a teenage boy was shot by police at a Northcote skate park. The work centres on a fictionalised event and confronts the reverberation of violence and pain that such an unthinkable, but too real, event causes.

The mood is set by the design team (Kat Chan, set and costume; Lisa Mibus, lighting; Pete Goodwin, sound) who turn the room to 'landscape' and use the horizontal space to give a sense of distance and ultimately of magnified intimacy, which is made stronger with some of the best sound design I've heard in this venue.

The story is told by five people who witnessed the violent event.  They have nothing in common, but crossed paths on the day.  Each represent their own section of society and their stories bravely confront their own stereotypes, preconceptions and contradictions.

Director (Matt Scholten) and cast (Prag Bhatia, Stefan Bramble, Nick Linehan, Jenny Lovell and Ioan Roberts) bring an honest and angry energy to the stage. This is supported by an unexpected and connecting empathy to their initially-unsympathetic characters, as each take a snapshot of stereotype and peel away the layers to show how wrong initial perceptions can be.  Their anger is sustained throughout the show, but a bit more light and shade will make the passion stronger and give each character an even greater range.

Summers, who is still in his early 20s, captures the angry, disconnected and confused souls of his characters, who speak without censorship or fear. The device of having each speaking to a different person creates a subtle tension in the audience as we have to keep shifting our individual perspectives of the characters and what happened.

When the off-stage confessors appear in the second half, this tension drops, especially as this half doesn't reveal anything new from the strong first half. Summers has to trust that his subtext is already clear and strong, and that audiences really can use their imaginations to fill in the empty spaces. What we imagine might not be exactly what the writer intended, but it will be something just as powerful.

Platform Youth Theatre continue to make  "awesome and unique theatre that topples notions of what ‘youth’ or what ‘community’ theatre is". This is a company who help to create our thearte artists and the kind of grown ups who will always strive to make our communities better.

This review originally appeared on AussieThearte.com.


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