Fringe Review: Blackrock

Written by Nicholas Enright, Blackrock is based on the true story of the murder of a 14-year-old at a party on Newcastle’s Stockton Beach in 1989, and the effects on relationships, friendships and families in the aftermath.

By
Glassroom Theatre Company presents another fine production that delves into the lives and emotions of teenagers
Overall
4

Reviewed at Holden Street Theatres on 19 February 2019

Presented by Glassroom Theatre Company and Holden Street Theatres

After winning the Flinders University Young Playwrights Award in 2017 for Clanstow, Jack Cummins founded Glassroom Theatre Company so he could direct, produce and star in the play. Eager to present more work that delved into the lives and emotions of teenagers, for this year’s Fringe, Cummins decided to produce Blackrock, which he performed in with Actors Ink in 2016, under the direction of Simone Avramidis. Written by Nicholas Enright, Blackrock is based on the true story of the murder of a 14-year-old at a party on Newcastle’s Stockton Beach in 1989, and the effects on relationships, friendships and families in the aftermath.  Cummins, starring once again as Jared Kirby, gave an impressive and dynamic performance, encapsulating the emotional turmoil of someone torn between his mates and morals.

Cummins assembled a cast of fine actors, with a number of especially strong performances. Ella Buckingham played Cherie, demonstrating her acting ability in a poignant monologue at the graveside of her deceased friend, during which one could hear a pin drop. James Coates was brash and macho as Brett, evoking audible gasps from the audience in his shocking admission of guilt. Jai Pearce gave a perfect balance of brazenness and innocence as Toby Ackland, and Millie Sandford commanded the stage as his sister Rachel. Special mention must be made to Spencer Fullgrabe who provided some comic relief during the otherwise distressing scenes.

At this performance (19/2/2019), the cast must be commended for remaining in character despite the obscene, drunken heckling by one audience member for the entirety of the performance. For such an intimate venue it was unacceptable for patrons and performers, and Holden Street Theatre staff should have been aware and taken control of the situation.

The sound design, with a soundtrack of 90’s artists including The Spice Girls and Nirvana, accentuated the era. The set, whilst sparse, enabled the action to be transported between the numerous locations. Although the action took place in the 90’s, the play is just as pertinent today, with its themes of toxic masculinity, rape, teenage violence, drug culture, and underage drinking. It is a shocking insight into the risks that confront adolescents. With such mature themes, and such an intricate and complex script, this production could have been enhanced with more time spent analysing and exploring the constant and drastic emotional changes.

All in all, this play, and cast of talented young actors, is worthy of your time this silly season.

Reviewed by Ben Francis

Venue: The Arch at Holden Street Theatres
Season:  17th Feb – 24th Feb
Duration:  60 minutes
Tickets:  $16-$22

 

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