Glassroom Theatre Company. Noel Lothian Hall. 3 Mar 2018
A new play by a new company. That is always good news. Clanstow was written by Jack Cummins and it won The State Theatre Company & Flinders University Young Playwright Award.
This does not make it a perfect piece of theatre. It is clearly juvenilia but it shines with promise.
It’s a bit of a thriller, a murder mystery in the high school world.
The production by the very nicely named Glassroom, is presented on a sensibly high stage in the compact Noel Lothian Theatre in the Botanic Gardens. A sofa and a park bench are the major set components. They are fairly noisily moved to and fro for very many scene changes. This is one of the youthful errors of the play, a cinematic concept of frequently changing scenes. It is not so easy in the theatre and makes for hard work.
The murder story revolves around a party held by a particularly ill-humoured teen called Jason. There is some interesting negotiation with parents about permissions to go out, particularly for two school peers whose olds are in a second-time-around relationship which presents the awkward threat of a blended family for the students. This makes for some surprising observations on grownups and a sense that the generation gap is alive and well. Then there are the romantic ties of the high school students and who is on with whom and who is cheating on whom.
The challenge for the audience is in keeping track of who is who among the protagonists. And then, it becomes a whodunnit. There’s a psycho in the house. But, who? The conceit of the two students who had been institutionalised for mental issues is interesting but a bit far-fetched. Then again, it weaves extra strands to unravel in the denouement.
The audience is not provided with a program which makes it hard to accord credit but there are some good performances and nice characterisations. Directed by its writer and Grace Boyle, it is given a very naturalistic style, except when it comes to the grownups, only one of whom, the mum, comes across as credible. The detective with his trench coat is inadvertently quite comical.
The cast, strong and well-rehearsed, include Jack Cummins, Zoe Taylor, Alex Whitrow, Olivia Coppick, Brad McCarthy, Henry Turczynowicz, Katherine Silbereisen, Grace Boyle, Alex Spice, Kelland Grigg, Charlotte Beavis and Eva Tudorovic.
For a first show by a new group, Clanstow is a brave and worthy effort and one looks forward to what they do next.
When: 3 to 12 Mar
Where: Noel Lothian Hall