Review: THE JOY OF TEXT by Robert Reid

School controversy cleverly examined

By Myron My

Written by Robert Reid, The Joy of Text receives a second life at La Mama Theatre after premiering with Melbourne Theatre Company last year.

The Joy of Text

Set in a high school, RePlay’s production deals with the politics and concerns faced by teachers and students on a daily basis – and some issues that do not occur so often…

We are witness to some very wordy and intense monologues and discussions about what happens when the line of student/teacher relationship is crossed; who is the victim and why – or is there even a victim? Would two years make the world of difference?

The cast here could not be faulted. There was amazing energy between them and a connectedness with the characters they played. Colin Craig does have the added pressure of carrying the play with his portrayal of central character 17-year-old student Danny, but does an amazing job of showing a perfect balance between Danny’s vulnerability, intelligence and bratty behavior.

Another notable mention would be Elizabeth Thomson‘s impressive work as the long-suffering English teacher Diane who wants to introduce a controversial text to the syllabus about a student’s relationship with a teacher. Kasia Kaczmarek (Ami) and Jason Kavanagh (Steve) also give strong, authentic performances in their respective roles.

The inclusion of a projection on the stage showing more to an environment was a brilliant idea by director Peita Collard: mixing the acting in the projection into the acting on stage was played out perfectly.

For example, Diane telling a student on screen to pick up the rubbish on the floor interrupts a conversation that Ami and she are having on the stage. The student does so but as soon as Diane turns her back to her, the student just throws it back on the ground and returns to her friends. This production thus does an incredible job of mixing multimedia to expand and augment the story.

The Joy of Text explores an education system where there is still a lot of grey areas about serious ethical dilemmas, resulting in panic and metaphorical lynching when these issues occur in our schools.

This is a very smart and insightful production with moments of comedy the cast do a wonderful job playing about with, and leaves a strong impression that will have you thinking about and discussing the play and its themes long after you’ve walked out of the theatre.

Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton

Season: Until 24 March | Wed, Sun 6.30pm | Thu, Fri, Sat 7.30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au

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