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.
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
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