Sitting amongst the audience, time travelling back to the elusive 2013 Gen Y party days to a fitting Triple J soundtrack featuring indie-altern bands such as The Grates and San Cisco, we come to a full frontal assault of Reagan's internal monologue on a night out.
Emily Carr as Reagan Kelly pulls you into her tumultuous mind from the moment she opens her mouth; you're there with her breathing in the revered scent of Fat Louie's and peeling your way through pressed bodies at The Beat Nightclub to reach the bathroom to empty the contents your stomach has acquired that night. It's okay, you can admit it, we've all been there.
As the play progresses, we are introduced to Reagan's functionally dysfunctional family, her gay best friend and her brother's new (and secret) fiancé. It becomes evident that each character is on their own journey of self-discovery, facing internal yet universal struggles of belonging – the battle to find one's own place in the world.
Oliver, Reagan's twin brother, is craftily controlled by Jeremiah Wray who appears to be on edge, uptight and uncomfortable walking the footsteps of his chosen 'normal' lifestyle. By contrast, the natural chemistry shared between Wray and Jackson McGovern (Hugh) allows us insight into the inner truth of Oliver's character. The playwright Lewis Treston has created a beautifully juxtaposed character in Oliver who is brought to life exquisitely by Jeremiah.
Jackson had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, even though he does just that himself in a rather confronting scene! I felt that Jackson relied a little too heavily on cheap laughs from the audience playing on the gay stereotype. Hugh has some genuinely funny moments that were delivered brilliantly by Jackson. Trust in that comedic ability; overuse of stereotypical tropes weighs down the likeability of the character.
Elise Grieg as mum Kristy and Chris Kellet as dad Ewan provide some early comedic relief as they trudge through suburban married life. Ewan is the typically clueless Aussie dad and Kristy is the frazzled, highly-strung housewife. These two played their relationship flawlessly, navigating their arguments between tomato sauce bottles and Indian restaurants. It was easy to be suspended in the belief of their long marriage finally cracking under multiple pressures that many succumb to.
Rounding out the cast is Fraser Crane as Guy and Lisa Huynh as Bianca. Both of these supporting characters could easily contribute more to the development of the show through an exploration of their own psyches. As a result, Guy comes across slightly two-dimensional; a young optimist who is essentially Reagan's moral compass and Bianca tediously walks a tightrope between character and narrator, explicitly stating the themes of the show that each character is facing.
Through Tim Hill's direction, the show addresses familiar questions surrounding mediocrity, identity and social pressures. Tim has designed a landscape in an intimate space using his ability to create drama between actors rather than rely on technical special effects and extensive sets and props. It is clear that every piece you see onstage is well thought out and placed, and due to the intimate space, the use of real cleaning products and incense burners were a magical touch and made the audience feel apart of the drama.
For this contemporary piece, the set was plain and functional which allowed the cast to bring the colour through their characters. The projections complimented the show between scene changes and were well executed, tight and clever. Personally, I would have liked for some iconic images Brisbane to be intertwined here, however, I appreciated the use of technology in recreating nightclub environments and aiding smooth transitions.
Treston has captured an iconic snapshot of Gen Y in Brisbane, commenting on many facets universal to our shared experience of the modern first world. It is clear that he has a knack for recreating naturalistic Aussie dialogue and developing a first-class dramatic piece. Granted, some characters have the potential to be refined further.
The play's ending seemed to be rushed, attempting to tie itself into a neat little package with a tidy ribbon on top. This was confusing as the themes of the show were anything but neat and tidy. I expected to be bookended with Reagan's second monologue, leaving us with some questions to ponder and confront ourselves (very Brechtian) but arguably an essential component in a piece where sexuality, conformity, social pressures along with the need to belong are being challenged.
Overall, this was a stimulating Aussie stage drama with plenty of laughs and touching moments that should not be missed.