I consented to attend this play. And review it. But I didn't really consent, in any way beyond the perfunctory, to the wordy, pretentious, too-clever-by-half (or so it seems to think itself) barrage with which it assaulted me.
In the end, I found it frustrating, annoying and tiresome, because neither I, nor it, knew what it was really on about.
Yes, yes, we all know it grapples with one or two rather over-publicised child sex murders. Hardly the only two; first, or last. So why the obsessive voyeurism?
If to use as a prism through which to examine appertaining issues, then the script does this only half-well, if that.
One expects better from an award-winning playwright, like Peter Morris.
I'm sure it was a gripping exercise, imagining the workings of an underage criminal mind, about to be released back into the wild, and getting it down on paper.
And though there are some keen speculations on an innocent, lost, damaged side to the child-killer we'd prefer to unilaterally and one-dimensionally view as a monster, in an effort to understand the deed, none are really surprising or new, let alone revelatory.
That character, apparently named Timmy (though I don't think that's revealed other than on the script), is, by common consent, supposed to be a fanciful hybrid of Jon Venables & Robert Thompson, the pair who snuffed out the young life of Jamie Bulger; a crime I won't pretend to have any particular expertise about.
This is far too literal, for me: not in the sense of being confronting, but in the sense of depleting the potential power of the themes of innocence versus monstrousness, by allowing itself to be so profoundly distracted by the finer points and particularities of specific, gruesome crimes.
Timmy's co-character is, apparently, named Stephanie; as scripted, it overplays the cluelessness of a monstrous mother, a la the parent of Jon-Benet Ramsay.
Having belted-up, bruised & abused the play, I've nothing but high praise for the craft employed, in this joint production, from Bareboards Productions & Tamarama Rock Surfers; going by the names alone, a marriage made in heaven.
While I don't reserve much praise for Rita Carmony's set and costume, Matt Schubach's lighting, or Steve Toulmin's sound design, producer, Ben Jobberns & director, Shannon Murphy have done a consummate job, not least in casting the wonderful Caroline Kemp & Ivan Donato, who turn something of a sow's ear into the proverbial silk purse. It is their performances that make the play worth seeing.
God knows, not much else does.
Bareboards Productions presents
The Age of Consent
By Peter Morris
Venue: The Old Fitzroy Theatre – Cnr Cathedral & Dowling Sts, Woolloomooloo.
Season: 22nd July – 23rd August 2008
Times: Tuesday – Saturday @ 8pm & Sunday @ 5pm
Tickets: $20 Concession, $28 Adult, $34 Beer, Laksa & Show
Special: Cheap Tuesdays: $16 Adult, $24 Beer Laksa & Show
Bookings: www.rocksurfers.org or 1300 GET TIX (1300 438 849)