Presented by University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
Reviewed 12th October 2019
Written as a vehicle for the founders of the venerable Belvoir Street Theatre, Seventeen sees a group of teenagers, hanging out in a park, on their last day of school.
Except that these teens are played by middle-aged actors.
With the constant danger of becoming “tricksy” Seventeen presents an engaging challenge to director and actor alike. Co-directors Matthew Chapman and Angela Short had to make some quite specific choices in staging this work, most importantly whether to play the roles as teenagers or mature adults. They chose the former. Both have their strengths, but this one allows for more humour.
The ensemble – Kate Anolak, A J Bartley, Lindsay Dunn, Rebecca Kemp, Lindy Le Cornu and Jack Robins – work seamlessly together, quickly establishing the social dynamic of the school-yard group. Kemp is a particular stand-out in the role of Lizzie, the younger sister who hangs around uninvited.
Matthew Whittet’s work contains, along with the usual schoolie jackanapes, some quite moving scenes. There is a darkness which lurks underneath the uniforms, and he doesn’t shy away from that. It doesn’t quite reach the extraordinary levels of Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills, but certainly avoids becoming too cute.
With a simple, but effective set, the whole theatre becomes the park, with the audience feeling as if they are sitting on the grassy hill with them.
There is much to take in, and many nerves to be tapped, for both those who have just left school, and those for whom it is a distant memory (although is it ever?). This piece, by its nature, speaks across the generations.
A wonderful production to end The Guild’s very successful 2019, Seventeen is a truly satisfying night in the theatre.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Venue: Little Theatre
Season: October 12th-October 26th
Duration: 90 minutes
Bookings: Online: www.trybooking.com/ZMCP On the door, subject to availability