Gorgon State Theatre Company 2016by Elena Carapetis. State Theatre Company. Space Theatre. 4 May 2016


They packed into The Space Theatre to see an education program touring show, a sturdy Establishment STC audience along with a whizz of Gen Y. It was a bumper house for a very short season of a new play by cherished Adelaide actress and award-winning upcoming playwright Elena Carapetis.


This new work targets secondary students and is written in their argot with a very large nod to the things that matter to them - cars, booze, social media, cell phones. But the theme is universal. It is the foolishness of youth, and the way the world changes in a split second. It is about grief. It is about love. It also is about guilt and, very touchingly, about the emotional abuse inflicted by the young on their parents. 


The two-hander one-hour play depicts a couple of best friends who go out joy riding and have a fatal accident. A year later, the twin of the dead boy invades the self-inflicted isolation of her brother's bestie and confronts his grief head on. 


It is a loud play. The two star-crossed mates, Lee and Maz, first shout and bellow in the crass exuberance of youth, in raucous party spirit. Their music is incomprehensibly cacophonous. There is no place for thought. Theirs is a world of the now, of impulse. And thus they go for a birthday drive.


This scene is magnificently wrought, the light and dark of it, the projections, the glare, as if in a box, a tight view of another world. And there is the freedom of the road and the boys in the car, the interplay, the thrill of speed, a brief understanding of danger and then...


One knows it is coming and yet, so brilliantly is it evoked, that one jumps with shock in one's seat. The aesthetic impact of all of this is the triumph of Kathryn Sproul's design with Chris Petridis's lighting and zippy timing through director Nescha Jelk. It is also well performed. Chiara Gabrielli doubles up as the twins while James Smith gives all his aching heart and then some to poor Lee


In the second scene, the stage opens out to a casually untidy flat - pizza boxes, drink cans, books and more books. Here, like a wounded animal, Lee has been holed up for a year in a pall of self-hatred and grief. Then Lola arrives, Maz's twin sister. She demands accountability. She is not going away. And, with a lot of high emotion and raised voices, the dead friend and twin are psychologically exhumed. 


There is a strong element of the old Kitchen Sink drama of the 50s revived in the complexity of anger expressed in this scene. It is emotionally gruelling. On opening night, the older audience members felt a fond ripple of deja vu.


The young ones, for whom the play has been devised, responded with an effusion of excited approval. The medium had delivered the message, a universal message, timeless.

And thus may Elena Carapetis pop another feather in her cap.


Samela Harris


When: 4 to 7 May

Where: Space Theatre

Bookings: bass.net.au