Review

Teen turbulence is stunningly staged

25 June 2019

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Review: Static Drive Co. See you Next Tuesday ·
The Blue Room Theatre, 20 June ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey’s 1979 novel, Puberty Blues, was a sensation and game-changer for its unflinching depiction of teenage sexuality and the structures of youth society through the eyes of two girls on Sydney’s southern beaches (although Bruce Beresford’s subsequent 1991 film adaptation, it must be said, did flinch quite a bit).

If it’s time for a reboot for the instagrammatical world, then Sam Nerida’s brutally frank and theatrically daring See You Next Tuesday might just be it.

Nerida, Haydon Wilson and Timothy Green’s Static Drive Co. is one of Perth’s boldest independent theatre companies (Nerida and Green’s Tissue was a standout of 2016; I missed their 2018 fringe show Night Sweats for reasons that now appear inexplicable and indefensible).

They have given us a 17-year-old high school student’s challenging, complex and often seemingly contradictory life using methods that are audacious, striking and, I thought, deeply insightful and exciting to witness.

What Nerida and director Alexa Taylor have done is explore those challenges, those contradictions, the uncertainty of a young person faced with difficult decisions and the concurrent pull of sense and sensibility by the daring device of having the girl, Evie, played by three actors (Ramiah Alcantara, Caitlin McFeat and Tess Metcalf).

It’s not a case of split personality; Evie is always the same person. It’s an exploration of her thought processes, of the different options and emotions a person must weigh up and sort through.

It’s a brilliant idea, but a fiendishly difficult one to accomplish. Alcantara, McFeat and Metcalf, who are all superb, do it, seemingly without effort.

Which is simply miraculous. The intricacy of running three monologues simultaneously, making each discernable and isolating key lines so they emerge above the babble is a high-wire act of the first order. It is marshalled by Taylor and performed by the three actors with mastery.

While Evie is one person, we learn the distinct sides of her personality through each performer: Metcalf’s Evie is cool and measured, McFeat’s sassy and wilful, Alcantara’s combative and scornful. Taken separately, they are recognizable and authentic; brought together, Evie is revealed as a unique, fascinating and vibrant character.

Through her, Nerida confronts a wide range of situations and issues, from the seemingly trivial to, literally, those of life and death. We learn that life for young people – young girls especially – is as intricate and multifaceted as those who live it, that judgement is sometimes hard to make, and maturity hard to attain amongst the jumble of family and friends, work and play, love and sexuality.

It’s a measure of the play’s success that it deals with so much, navigates so much and achieves so much.

See You Next Tuesday is not a play for every taste. It’s uncompromising and sexually explicit, – but I doubt there will be a more striking and impressive new work on Perth’s stages this year.

See You Next Tuesday plays until July 6.

Pictured top are Ramiah Alcantara, Tess Metcalf and Caitlin McFeat. Photo Floyd Perrin.

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