Review: LOADED – A Double Bill of New Plays

Playing Now at The State Theatre Centre of WA

The West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) is world renowned for producing some of Australia’s most awarded and respected actors. People like Hugh Jackman, Jai Courtney and Tim Minchin who are out there putting Perth on the map.

Tim Minchin in 2014 performing at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.

At the State Theatre Centre of WA last night, WAAPA’s latest prodigies made their debut as members of the Black Swan Theatre Company, proving beyond a doubt that they too, will be following the footsteps of greatness of those that have come before them.

Last night’s preview audience were treated to two one-act performances written by young playwrights Gita Bezard and Will O’Mahony, both of whom are climbing up the ranks laden with a booty of writing and directing awards in their swags.

Without giving too much away, be warned when the title of a play is Loaded, you can expect to be blown away. Guns play a common theme in both.

Girl Shut Your Mouth, the first play is a compelling, moreover confronting story about four teenage girls living in a world that treats woman as second-rate citizens. Playwright Bezard has cleverly covered a whole gambit of issues facing women and woven them into a story that at first glance appears to be focussing on the lengths desperate people will go  to seek asylum in another country, and the myths of what they believe is waiting for them on the other side. Looking deeper, you will notice many more layers to this piece and the issues Bezard addresses are not isolated to just war torn countries.

Gita-Bezard-
Playwright Gita Bezard

Last year, I was privileged to be invited along with a group of my peers to hear a professional read-through of this play, as part of the Black Swan Emerging Writers program. I was intrigued by it then, but seeing it as a performance piece complete with movement, sound, lighting and costume, the result has escalated it to another level.

The cast of four, lead by Jessica Patterson as outspoken shooting victim Katie, is played with such venom and spite that she could walk straight into the lead role of the next instalment of teen flick Mean Girls, should a Hollywood director be serendipitously talent-scouting in the audience. But Jessica soon shows that she is no one show pony as her vulnerability builds towards the climax of the plot.

Brittany Morel, in contrast was the perfect juxtaposition in her role as Darcy, the do-gooder friend with a conscience. Morel’s performance was emotive, creating a natural feeling of sympathy towards her.

Stephanie Panozzo and Shalom Brune-Franklin also added their talents to this superb line up of actors, delivering an impassioned professional performance, showcasing emotional depth and great maturity.

Under the direction of Jeffery Jay Fowler, Girl Shut Your Mouth is a gift to any audience member that enjoys excellent theatre. Well cast, well directed and sublimely written.

After the interval, a change of scenery and a half naked man is wielding a vacuum cleaner, going about his business cleaning the shiny black stage. When the lights dim he asked the audience, ‘Are you ready?’.  They reply with a resounding ‘YES!’

BSSTC 2016 Tonsils + Tweezers 14 Jan to 7 Feb 2016 Hoa Xuande and Lincoln Vickery photo credit Robert Frith-350x193

Tonsils and Tweezers is a fast-paced, quick-witted piece, with a modern day ethos about two friends about to attend their 10 year school reunion.

It delves into the dark side of school bullying and how things that happen in those formative school years can shape ones psychology into adulthood.

will
Will OMahony

Will OMahony, has written with insight, tapping into the zeitgeist of what fuels anger and resentment in today’s society.  The reality of its theme is both frightening and empathic.

It’s relatable on all levels. Whether you are still in school or long out of it. Situations and people who caused a harbouring of hatred both for what they did and the regrets one holds for not changing it. Regardless of wisdom and hindsight, old wounds fester and this is the theme that plays out eloquently in Tonsils and Tweezers.

Both Lincoln Vickery (Tonsils) and Hoa Xuande (Tweezers) show great skill in their delivery of the dialogue-heavy script and characters they portray. Keep an eye on these names as they are sure to come up time and again in future roles. Both actors display great sensitivity and flexibility that will ensure them great futures in the industry.

The supporting roles of Max and Beth (played by Adam Sollis and Megan Wilding respectively) are faultless. Both Sollis and Wilding play their comedy roles with gumption showing great comic timing and an ability to switch faultlessly into a softer persona making their roles memorable even as supports. Megan Wilding was a standout performer in the 2104 Fringe World production, Fat Pig, superbly showcasing this up and coming actress in all her facets. She is a standout performer to watch.

Will OMahony stretches himself as both playwright and director for this piece and does it with flare.

The Ensemble
The Ensemble

LOADED: A Double Bill of New Plays is dark in its themes but well worth seeing. It’s showing at the State Theatre Centre of WA until 7 February. If you like new, emerging theatre, I highly recommend you get along to these shows. Buy tickets here.

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