Powerful and disturbing
By Leeor Adar
You will flinch in Flash.
You will be unnerved, and that’s what Dutch playwright, and London-hailing Francis Grin, wants you to feel.
This play has come a long way from across the sea, but its resonance with youth shedding the skin of its innocence too soon resounds at a universal level.
The hours on the clock eerily inch back in time as we watch a group of teenagers initiate a naïve Laura (Casey Bohan) into their unflinching and remorseless world of non-consensual sex. Each tries to outdo the other in the ‘I don’t give a fuck’ stakes, and everyone loses in this soulless game.
Does it sound familiar?
Grin grew up within the affluent and private community of Sao Paulo, which fuelled both claustrophobia and feelings of invincibility in its resident youth. Although the play makes limited references to this world to its detriment, the sense of security one expects in the affluent family home does not extend to the minds of the youth who exact a cruel assault on their peers.
Carrie (Ruby Duncan), a veteran of the sticky fingers of entitled boyhood in the likes of Christian (Dominic Weintraub), carries a graceful numbness of the ‘cool girl’. The flicker of her evocative gaze betrays her empty accusations of what has been done to her as it pins its perpetrator on the move to his next victim. The strength of Duncan’s quiet performance drives the play, and this is beautifully juxtaposed with the spirited and sinister charm of Weintraub. The actors are incredibly competent. Quite frankly there was not a moment in which I felt that I was in a theatre. I felt deeply uncomfortable, and not just by the disturbing descent into understanding the events of these youth’s evening, but by the naturalistic performances that rendered the audience as voyeurs.
While director Carl Whiteside has piloted assured performances from most of his actors, there is a striking disconnect between the action of that night and the sequences between young Christian and what we are left to believe is an older, subconscious Christian (Brett Fairbairn). Unfortunately, the writing alienates and confuses audiences in these sequences, and the direction does little to navigate audiences to its depths.
Sonja Mounsey’s set design switches between the innocent bedroom of a teenage girl to the red paper-cup-strewn outdoor dining table where much of the emotional and physical violence is inflicted on its characters. The banality of the outdoor-area drinking session and the innocence of the bedroom covered with homework perfectly showcases how familiar places can become the perfect stage for trauma. And that is the nature of assault. It’s not always happening down the dark alleyway, but in the backyards of our neighbours and friends, and in the bedrooms where we rest our heads.
This is certainly a challenging work presented by the Owl & Cat Theatre, but the power of its message will have its audience thinking about it for some time after they leave the theatre.
You can catch Flash from 8pm Tuesday 12th to Friday 15th of July at the Owl & Cat Theatre, 34 Swan St, Cremorne.