Friday, 21 June 2002

Week , June 21, 2002

 Platform Youth Theatre
251 High St Northcote  until June30
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

There is something totally charming and delightful about Week by Platform Youth Theatre. A cast of twenty-three aged 16 to 25, write perform, a show based on one week in their lives.

The result is a series of vignettes ranging from one to five minutes. Each has a different voice but all reflect the ordinary, the surprising, the intimate or tragic moments that may occur in anyone's week.

Dramaturg, Patricia Cornelius  developed script material from journals kept for the project by each participant. Director, Susie Dee,  creates an evocative space on stage using virtually only the bodies and voices of the young cast.

The entire 80 minutes is staged on a set resembling a train platform, (Adrienne Chisholm). In this promenade stage, the audience sits on one side only of the long space while the actors face us, seated in a uniform line of chairs on the platform.

Dee brings an imaginative vision to the work. Individuals or small groups peel off from the seated line and perform scenes. Another layer is added to the vignettes by the choreographed movements and vocal interjections of the seated ensemble.

They sit still as if a backdrop to the action. Then they shift positions subtly, pose, echo the dialogue or simply react to the scene.

A trio drives to the country for a camping trip. A young woman tries to find the woman who adopted her dog. A man decides to start a quiet, 'nice guy' revolution in society. On a train, various people suffer, chat, eat or pretend to be what they are not.

Two sisters from Sarajevo argue about forgetting their previous lives. Four teenage girls go clubbing, talk about fatness and look for love. Two girls diarise their boring Sunday at home or working in a supermarket.

These snapshots of lives are variously moving, funny or insightful. What makes this show work, is the unaffected quality of these young community actors. The professionals who worked on this show - Dee, Cornelius, and others - create a safe environment for the young people to develop and refine their ideas and present them to an audience.

The strange and accidental juxtaposition of images and stories adds another dimension. Chris Lewis's  sound design and Gina Gascoigne's  lighting enhance the atmosphere created by Susie Dee.

This is effective and affecting community theatre.

By Kate Herbert

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