This latest offering from Platform Youth Theatre brings together a specially commissioned double-bill by two writers - Christos Tsiolkas (Ugly) and Patricia Cornelius (Slut).
As the titles suggest, this is not uplifting, safe theatre for or by young people, but rather a social exercise that delves into morality issues and the problems that are encountered on the journey from child to adult.
In Ugly, a three-way friendship is explored in a world where bleakness thrives. This friendship and the overwhelming need to be loved proves to be the only thing that is not ugly, but not enough to prevent the ultimate collision with mindless violence.
Slut is essentially a history of a girl, Lolita, at first full of child-like sexuality exploring her identity, but ultimately the victim of her peer group admirers who turn on her like vipers.
Both these plays are uncomfortable viewing, largely because no answers are offered, while the audience sits in judgement. Nadja Kostich brings a stylised direction to the pieces which generally works well, with the ensemble acting as a Greek chorus (although this is far more effective in Slut).
Of the lead performers, Luke Fraser, proved to be the strongest with a focused and touching performance as Slim in Ugly.
Tenderness is bold and challenging for the audience, but probably even more so for the company of young performers - many of whom would have been pushed well beyond their own comfort zone. This production may not always succeed, as it sets a high standard for itself, but it makes one glad that these voices are being heard.
Platform Youth Theatre presents
by Christos Tsiolkas and Patricia Cornelius
Venue: 45 Downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Dates: Friday 7 March to Saturday 15 March
Bookings: 9662 9966 or www.fortyfivedownstairs.com