I had the pleasure to attend the Opening Night of Jasper Jones at QPAC in South Brisbane.
Have you heard of Jasper Jones? In the sleepy town of Corrigan, everyone knows the name. It's in his direction alone where all fingers point and at his feet, where blame is traditionally set.
The night Jasper (Shaka Cook) stumbled upon a gruesome crime, he knew he would be the main suspect. After all, who else could it be then the town's miscreant mixed caste? So on that hot summer's night in 1965, Jasper, like a cat avoiding detection, sneaks through tin-roofed Corrigan. He plans to recruit the smartest kid in town to help clear his name.
14-year-old Charlie (Nicholas Denton) could not be more surprised to see the Jasper Jones at his window. After all, Charlie has always been far too busy reading books about epic adventures to live any real ones. Tired of his noneventful state of being, his curious soul crawled out the window and followed trouble through the town and out near the dam. That's where it all began. Where Charlie began to realise he lives in a town full of secrets with stories behind every door.
It's no wonder that Sam Strong's production of Jasper Jones sold out during its Melbourne season and was the recipient of four Helpmann award nominations. This instant classic, written by Craig Silvey, was published in 2009 and since, Jasper Jones has been immortalised on stage and screen.
Jasper Jones addresses several hard topics taking us back to those important formative years. The show follows Charlie's coming of age story.
We meet Charlie's best friend Jeffery Lu (Hoa Xuande) an energetic kid dying to fit in and play cricket. Charlie's mother Ruth Bucktin (Rachel Gordon), she hides her social erosion and general unhappiness behind clothes, lies and alcohol. Charlie's father is Wesley Bucktin (Ian Bliss), he is kind, compliant and has a secret of his own. Then there is Eliza Wishart (Melanie Zanetti) the object of Charlies desires. She is pretty, witty and definitely hiding something.
These characters keeping you guessing the whole way through. You think it's going one way and it turns into something completely different.
Charlie is played by Nicholas Denton. What a talent! He is funny, expressive and you just can't look away. He brings depth and humour in equal measure. Rachel Gordon, Hoa Zuande, and Shaka Cook are outstanding in Jasper Jones. In all honesty, the entire cast is brilliant.
The set and lighting are characters of their own. Creatively taking you on this adventure with dramatic sunsets, little houses, cricket pitches and a watery grave.
This is a must see production. A rare Australian classic story with humour, heart and mystery. Jasper Jones has so much punch that I'd gladly see it again and again.