All Good Things – ATYP The Voices project. (Theatre Review)
All Good Things
ATYP – The Voices Project
3 Feb to 20 Feb – you can grab your tickets here
Note: ATYP (of course) is continuing its committment to emerging writers and young actors even though The Voices Project itself if coming to an end.
The Voices Project has been a thrilling start to the Sydney theatre calendar for many years now, so it’s a shame to see it as one of those good things that must come to an end, as this is going to be its final year. It’s currently showing at ATYP and as usual, is a thrilling night of exciting theatre that showcases the best young talent Sydney has to offer, so it’s worth catching before it closes shop on the 20th of February. Particularly if you have seen one of these exciting productions before; especially if you haven’t.
The concept is seven minute monologues for 17 year old actors, but these are no straight up performed pieces. Director Iain Sinclair chops and changes the concepts structure, so that all the monologues weave their way around each other in slippery serpentine word plays. Sophisticated young minds hampered by lack of experience and the words to say it, place their feelings into layered experiences that not only speak to the undercurrents that make us transparent to each other, but the passion and power of our surface communication and the way that often this side of us is underappreciated. The monologues are all great quality, but there is something extra special about young people stretching themselves into mature vocabulary in an attempt to speak fresh experience that has not yet had a chance to form an older human being. To watch this sort of thing as an adult with decades of experience is bitter-sweet – not only for my memories, but also for a reigniting with the yearning youth has to be older and more experienced itself.
This particular Voices Project deals with big themes, but most striking were the smaller ones, the daily complexities of being a teen. Striking for me was the evening opener, a monologue written by Gemma Neal and performed by Sarah Meacham entitled Nice, about the very simple and terrifying experience of dating for a young girl. For a woman who started dating young, and was flattered by the inappropriate attentions of older men, Nice reminded me of how lucky I was to escape that time of my life unscathed and how many women do no. Nice taps into the horrific naivety of the young woman tricked into thinking she is mature beyond her years, deliberately because she can’t hope to handle the difficult situation she finds herself in. Posited against this is the funny and yet equally tragic tale of The Fuzz, written by Kirby Medway and performed by Jonas Thompson about the difficulties young men face in a hipster world of luxuriously thick beards, as they go to any lengths to try to join the ranks of adults, only to find (as with young women) their biology actively working against them. The Fuzz is funny, and yet contains the cataclysmic moment when a young person transforms an experience into a life defining horror, always bereft of the maturity to handle the very big experiences coming their way.
Other stand outs include a marvellous Moreblessing Maturure in Callum Mclean’s Changing Room which agonises over the complexities of right sex in the wrong body issues that must be so much more prevalent for teens than we realise. The closing line of this monologue packs a serious punch that thrills as Mclean’s strong and provocative words are delivered by the enigmatic and always delightful to watch Maturure. Also Ciella William’s Bright as performed by Poppy Lynch strikes a strong punch at the difficulties of being female and the problems associated with that first, all important development, when the breasts emerge and become such an important part of the body and its place in society. The streight of the movement in Bright is posited against the gentle transitioning complexity of Michael J. Cornford’s Lazlo’s Feet which explores the difficulties teens have in understanding their own emerging sexuality. And yet, its difficult to single one monologue out over all the others, which skillfully navigate the problems existent in teen life, particularly the aforementioned difficulty of articulating an experience forced to recognise itself in a language game experienced beyond its years. If you do attend this ATYP play, do it with a teen, so that they can interpret, explain and bring their world alive for you, encouraged by the beauty alive in this production.
Iain Sinclair’s control is light and focussed, obviously determined not to crush the emerging talent around him, and yet equally steadfast in his desire to have the audience see what he sees. He calls forth the subtleties of theatre to enhance and strengthen the production with maturity so that these complex stories are not lost in their own vibrant youthfulness. Every narrative is placed next to its perfect other, everything balances the audiences expectations against the theatrical imperative to offer something new. This he achieves with the help of the youthful exuberance of Emma Lockhart-Wilson’s Lighting design that illuminates narrative as well as celebrates poignancy, Michael Toisuta’s sound that rounds out the enormity of the room to become an intimate space, Emma Vine’s wisely chosen simplistic yet evocative set pieces and Michael J.Cornfords skillful stage management.
This is a night of seamless beauty where young people have that all too rare opportunity to speak their mind with clarity and intensity.