Review: TENDERNESS – Two Plays

Teenage years need some tenderness

By Deborah Langley

Walking into the Footscray Community Arts Centre was a little like stepping back in time into a black box, a quiet gymnasium with just a hint of white smoke. Enough equipment to know we were back at school, but not enough to imagine these kids could be in any way privileged. 

Tenderness begins with Christos Tsiolkas’ play “Ugly” – a story of three young people who love each other through epic milestones with horrific consequences. With dynamic physical performances these three actors take us into their world: a world where the boys need to be men – bigger, stronger, tougher – and the girls are either pretty or invisible. 

Matt Hickey embodies male toughness, almost enough to be frightening. This hedonism oozed teenage frustration and complete loss. Supported by brilliant performances by both Stephanie Capiron and Rebecca Mezei (who justified the setting with effortless circus-style rope work), this play was beautifully indirect, weaving physicality and narrative through the labyrinth of the teenage mind

In a short silence of the brilliant soundscape laced through both plays, our young boy disappears and new performer Peta Sergeant steps onto stage, offering up a new story by way of a bowl of chalk dust.

“Slut” written by Patricia Cornelius tells the female story of playground games; laughing, fighting, teasing, ostracizing. With the addition of extra ropes, we are no longer inside the gymnasium but instead taken to the battlefield of growing up and finding yourself: who you are, who you want to be and how those choices can affect the rest of your life.

The energy shift from such a strong male sense is a little jarring, but it doesn’t take long for these three amazing performers to hit their stride and pull us into this new world – a world known by too many – of sexuality and the innocence of youth combining to a frightening outcome

Two modern morality plays, distinct from each other in their voice and form, Ugly and Slut are pulled together with some compelling theatrical techniques, that at times are excessive, but give space to raw and powerful performances.

Tenderness– Two Plays

Performing until Sun 11 Sep 2011

8pm Tue – Sat, 5pm Sun 

Post-Show Matinee Forums (approx. 45 mins)

12pm Thu 1 Sep, Fri 2 Sep, Wed 7 Sep and Thu 8 Sep 4pm Sat 10 Sep

Footscray Community Arts Centre

45 Moreland Street, Footscray

Tickets: $20, $10 conc, $5 secondary students

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