Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Teenage Riot, Oct 15, 2013 ***

By Ontroerend Goed,Melbourne Festival
Produced by Kopergietery/Drum Theatre Plymouth/Richard Jordan Productions 
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, Oct 15 to 18, 2013 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: *** 
This review also published in Herald Sun online Wed Oct 16 and later in print. KH

Teenage Riot looks like a writhing mosh pit of youthful decadence. Be afraid, parents!

This peculiar little show, performed by eight young people, is an in-your-face theatrical expression of adolescent angst, rage, sexual experimentation and total teen obnoxiousness.

Directed by Alexander Devriendt, it is the second of a trilogy by Belgian company Ontroerend Goed, and the title of the first play points to this show’s content – “Once and for all we’re gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen”.

Eight tearaways shut themselves inside a small, grungy cell (or huge cupboard?) where they indulge their obsessive self-absorption by filming the ultimate Youtube-style “selfie” that is projected onto the outer wall for us to witness.

If your teenagers’ behaviour and secrets scare you, this show will send you screaming to the doors because they do all the irksome, dissolute, dangerous things that we suspect adolescents get up to in the absence of adults.

With its loud contemporary music, shock factor and focus on the voice of the teenager, it does not break new theatrical ground and looks and sounds like good, 1990s Youth Theatre.

The performers, as a group or individually, express disdain for their parents’ generation, their rage at the state of the world they will inherit, and their loathing of being treated like children.

Two young women tutor us in their methods for staying stick thin by – well – eating air, while the young men celebrate violent video games, educate us in sexual technique (funny!) or suffer the irritating running commentary of the older generation.

Despite the annoying carping, familiar whining and abominable blend of ignorance and arrogance of teenagers, there are poignant moments, particularly when Edouard is verbally assailed by the voices of the oldies around him.

Teenage Riot may be loud, messy, confused, often irritating and not necessarily illuminating about adolescents, but it is tells the story of teen anger about being unable to change anything in themselves, others or their world.

By Kate Herbert

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