Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

On the cusp of adulthood

31 January 2020

Steven Cohen says Homebrand is gorgeous, experimental theatre that will make you think, with a bold and impressive young cast.

Review: Mandurah Performing Arts Centre and Riptide Youth Performance Company, Homebrand ·
The Library, Girls’ School, January 29 ·
Reviewed by Steven Cohen ·

In this joyous exploration of coming of age, a group of millennials fumble their way through first kisses, intimate friendships and invaluable life lessons. They bare all – angsty clothes and open hearts – to find common ground and bond in their shared experiences of social discomfort, educational anxiety, and ever-present solipsism.

There is not much plot in this 75-minute one-act show – it’s a series of vignettes exploring first love, parental discord, sexual valour, sexual love and death. One minute we are confronted with a soliloquy on dying and the next a sketch on the merits of coming out. It is all quite racy and amusing, with little time to digest the actors and their focus. It’s experimental amateur theatre that tries to make you think, entertainingly, of course.

There are also no stars – the mixed troupe of young amateur actors created the vignettes as well as playing the sensitive, inward-looking, occasionally awkward characters.

There are times when the dialogue is too languorous. But the young playwrights and director Lexie Sleet use this dreaminess to capture perfectly the gauche unease of youth.

The setting is relatively stark. The lighting is almost natural. There are a few chairs. A box here and there, which an actor now and then climbs to divert the action. Two slightly used 1970s bedside lamps are turned on and off, perhaps as a metaphor for our own wavering understanding of what it is like to grow up and old.

The terrific ensemble cast includes young members of the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre and the Riptide Youth Performance Company, which is making waves in the small city south of Perth as a prolific community of young men and women eager to connect and play a positive part.

The production is fascinating and original. There is no conclusion; no resolution other than a testament to the power of resilience and optimism as young people all hurtle headfirst into adulthood. The vignettes could continue indefinitely and still there would be no resolution, for growing up is forever changing, raising its capricious head just when we think we have a handle on it.

It’s a testament to Mandurah that this ensemble is able to create such gorgeous, capacious and abidingly human theatre. Fringe World should be proud, Mandurah should be prouder.

Homebrand continues until 2 February 2020.

Pictured top: Cast member Dana Brennan in the coming of age show, ‘Homebrand’.

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Author —
Steven Cohen

Steve Cohen is a doctor, a philosopher and dreamer. Steve has ridden the rails, gotten off track, and lost his train of thought. Only to get back on again. He spends most of his spare time considering the follies of a certain 2 year old child and wondering what it would actually be like to be on stage rather than write about the stage. Favourite playground equipment? They all hurt.

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