Blackrock

Blackrock
By Nick Enright. EbbFlow Theatre Co. St Martins Youth Arts Centre, South Yarra, Vic. July 25 – Aug 3, 2019.

Blackrock is often produced as a work for youth rather than for its weightier insights.  I have seen it several times and always gone away un­sure about exactly what writer Nick Enright was trying to say.  In fact I have suspected that it’s a flawed play.  However this production presents the text in a strong positive and persuasive light.  Nicola Bow­man directs a very satisfying and rewarding work of theatre where the action moves forward smoothly and swiftly leaving, in its wake, perceptive and complex insights.

Enright’s controversial and disturbing story is based on a true-life mur­der.   The story is basically about what happens at an alcohol fueled beach party where there is no adult supervision of a heap of young people all drinking and blindly searching for intimacy.  

Director Bowman focuses, most particularly, on how our social con­structs ‘other’ young women leading to massive misunderstandings and callous exploitation.  She has driven a brutally clear and satisfying night of theatre. 

The audience warms and relaxes into the work where social mores and relationships are immediately recognizable and relatable to. We feel at home and comfortable watching people we are culturally famil­iar with, albeit, a culture of binge drinking. 

Then things go horribly wrong.   

The acting is uniformly excellent.

Karl Richmond makes a first-rate Jared.  His intelligent approach to the part allows the audience significant insight into the crisis experi­enced by males with regard to mateship/friendship and loy­alty.

Luisa Scrofani as Rachel is exemplary. She conveys all the heartache of not wanting to let go of a relationship that is unsatisfactory and, basi­cally doomed.

Monty Burgess plays all the older male characters, each as a fully fleshed out individual.  Notably there is a glaring absence of strong and supportive mature male role models. This is highlighted by hav­ing one actor cover the spectrum of mature masculinity.

Alexander Lloyd brings to the stage a Toby who sadly gets desper­ately drunk at the party and falls into the deeply shameful pit of go­ing along with his mates.  Lloyd’s Toby is one of the characters we feel most sorry for.

Callum Mackay as Davo and Henry O’Brien as Scott are a great duo. They have the daunting task of being the generic boys next door, your average Aussie lads.  They pull it off beautifully with much self-deprecat­ing humour.  

Michelle Robertson brings to the character Diane all the stoicism of a single mother doing her darned best to bring up a boy to manhood.

Kate Schmidli makes an excellent Shauna, as does Joanna Halliday a great Cherie.

Sophie Stewart’s Tiffany conveys the conflict between the desperate need to please and placate a boyfriend and the burgeoning instinct to be true to herself.

Fight Chorographer John Reed is worth his weight in gold.  His staged fights are believable.

Design by Jac Antcliff - using of 44 gallon drums – is excellent.  Every now and again one or two of them seemed to have minds of their own.  A spinning rostra could be considered to symbolize varying and changing perspectives as well as catering for the elevated perspective of the character Jarod.

A great show - well worth catching.

Suzanne Sandow

Credits

Directed by Nicola Bowman

Assistant Director – Dean Robinson

Fight Choreographer – John Reed

Executive Producer/Production Manager – Dean Robinson

Asociate producer – Kate Schmidli

Stage Manager Kyra on Stiegler

Set and Costume Designer _ Jac Antcliff

Sound Designer - Rachel Lewindon

Photography – Cameron Taylor

Cast

Jared – Karl Richmond

Cherie – Joanna Halliday

Ricko - Jayden Popik

Davo – Callum Mackay

Scott – Henry O’Brien

Toby – Alexander Lloyd

Tiffany – Sophie Stewart

Len/Stewart/Roy – Monty Burgess

Rachel – Luisa Scrofani

Marian/Glenys – Jessica Tanner

Diane – Michelle Robertson

Shana and Others – Kate Schmidli

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