The controversial Australian play was written by Nick Enright and is being presented at Adelaide’s Bakehouse Theatre by Eclipse Productions under the direction of Ben Johnson.
The plot centres on complicating matters involving the victim herself and also the culpability among the teenagers who were either bystanders or did nothing to prevent the crime.
Much of the action deals with the consequences of a violent delinquency on a minor neighbourhood and, specifically, on Jared Kirby (Thomas Lowe), the prime witness, as he grapples with the ethical dilemma of loyalty to his mates and to law and justice.
The opening scene concerns the return of the uninhibited Ricko (James Russo), and it’s his prodigal appearance that leads to the disaster.
Toby Ackland (Matthew Perry – no not that one) is turning 18 and he’s holding a birthday party on the beach. All the kids of Blackrock are attending.
Soon, drugs and alcohol are conspicuously consumed and the girls tease the boys. When Tracy (Maeve Marryat) and Toby take a walk, everyone expects they will have sex, but no one expects that the young girl will be found dead. But who is the murderer and who else is culpable?
A multitude of superfluous prop and scene changes cause unnecessary jarring, although it also allows time for the audience to absorb some of the more complex questions the play is asking.
With 17 players on stage, few actors are given space to breathe verve into their characters and the acting is uneven. Despite these minor flaws, however, the play is well worth watching.
The fact that the play is based on the issues that were raised by the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl after a beach party in New South Wales makes the drama and tragedy even more weighty, acute and philosophical.
Blackrock is playing at the Bakehouse Theatre until November 14 and is recommended for ages 15 and up.
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