Confession time. I’ve been having a forced break from events and live theatre for a little while now and I’m on continued go-slow until the end of the year at the very least. It’s killing me. I love theatre. I love supporting local talent. I love being out and about. I know you know this.
On Thursday night, you could say, I risked life and limb and broke out of
jail hibernation mode briefly for opening night of Playthings at The Blue Room Theatre. Truth be told when the invite landed in my inbox, I almost declined. Like I’ve been doing with most invites lately. It was only due to the fact that Playthings is written and directed by Scott McArdle that I made an exception before even reading the brief…
Homework, hormones, and homicide
Lucy and Arnold are 13.
She listens to the Smashing Pumpkins and he’s just discovered Bowie.
He’s a bit sensitive and she loves The Simpsons – you know, before it got shit.
This week, he has an English assignment due.
And she’s planning on killing her stepdad.
From the award-winning Second Chance Theatre (Laika: A Staged Radio Play), Playthings is a dark new play about growing up in suburban WA. A modern-day horror mixed with John Hughes coming-of-age vibes that takes you back to your teenage years in an ode to being young, dumb, and angry.
I’ve been more than impressed by everything McArdle has been involved with of late, especially his work earlier in the year, so I said a very quick ‘yes’ and then crossed my fingers and toes that I would be up for attending on the night. And what an opening night. Pleased to report
I survived the show went off without a hitch, despite me having to head straight back into hibernation mode and miss the after-party because you know I love an after-party just as much as everything else!
Can I say I love this production? I’m not sure. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an exceptional piece of theatre that is definitely worth casing but can you love something that cuts you like a knife? And not one of those easily healed flesh wound cuts. This delivers more of a deep and wounding incision that stays with you for a long time.
There is, however, a lot to love. Everything from inception to deliverance, with the brilliant cast to the clever set design and lighting that turns such a small amount of stage space into so much more.
Playthings is confronting from start to finish and comes with more than a few warnings [Violence, Coarse Language, Graphic Content, Fake Blood/Vomit/Urine, Themes around Sexual Abuse, Mental Illness, Self-Harm, Smoke Machine/Hazer, Strobe Lighting]. The fake blood and the manner it comes into play was a little too realistic for my liking.
Much like the realistic fake blood, the context is also unsettling. Just the way it should be given the work revolves around the idea of the loss of innocence in kids and cycles of violence that exist within schools and families. From the outset, there’s an element of dread that things aren’t going to end well. There’s also a whole lot of love and laughs as well but it’s the underlying darkness that will keep you guessing and thoroughly intrigued and pretty much on the edge of your seat, right to the very end.
In the end, I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. There is a small sense of relief that it stopped where it did, tinged with a feeling that perhaps it wasn’t really the end at all but more the end we needed to see.
4 worth casing stars out of 5!
Presented by Second Chance Theatre
Now showing until 23rd November!