Saturday, 18 June 2011

Moth by Declan Greene, Malthouse & Arena, 17 June, 2011

Moth by Declan Greene 
17 June, 2011
Beckett Theatre, Malthouse, until June 25, 2011
Stars: **** 1/2

Teenagers, Sebastian (Thomas Conroy) and Claryssa (Sarah Ogden), occupy a dark, terrifying, adolescent hell in Declan Greene’s award-winning play, Moth. This is a merciless, unforgiving world where young victims are easy prey for stronger, more aggressive youths.

Here, defenceless teens are mercilessly punished for being different, brutal physical assaults are filmed and uploaded to YouTube for viewers to post loathsome comments and, tragically, the mentally ill are gunned down by over-zealous police.

Sebastian and Claryssa are unpopular and different; Sebastian because of his social awkwardness, mental illness and paranoid delusions, and Claryssa for her strange Emo/Witch appearance and belligerence.

Despite, or because of their differences, these two social outcasts share a strange, fluid and doomed sort of friendship. There is no hint of optimism in this unremitting play so it’s no wonder that Sebastian and Claryssa fantasise about destroying the world.

Conroy and Ogden give commanding and credible performances in multiple roles, portraying not only their principal characters with passion and commitment, but also a parade of teenage thugs, teachers, parents, saints and giant robots. Chris Kohn directs both actors with a deft hand.

This is theatre at its finest, a potent blend of Greene’s cunningly wrought script, compelling dialogue, hallucinogenic imagery and consummate acting that will have you close to tears towards the end. 

The physical incarnation of this nightmarish, claustrophobic world is created by the simple, yet effective set (Jonathon Oxlade), lighting (Rachel Burke), and video (Domenico Bartolo).

With its strong language, disturbing themes and imagery, this play is not for a feint-hearted audience but Moth is a must-see for teenagers, parents and teachers.

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