This latest offering from ATYP, explores the idea of conflict in its many forms, from school bullies, to yammering neighbours, to young men at war.
Directed by Meryl Tankard, an ensemble of eight girls and six boys aged 16-26 work together in VX18504 to perform a demanding work of short spoken vignettes, dance and physical theatre based around the idea of conflict.
The show runs in two halves of around an hour each, the first half a more comic exploration of neighbourhood and schoolyard games, gossip, teasing and pretend bouts of shoot-em-up. There are some beautiful moments here, with some hilarious physical comedy and touching individual monologues.
The second half was an extended dance sequences exploring ideas of war, with repeated sections set to soulful Irish folk music.
The whole show reached for some moving and creative ground, and the audience (a packed house) were treated to some innovative, poetic and entertaining storytelling. Unfortunately, many sequences were too long and drawn out, losing their impact as they became old and tiresome. The show would very likely have worked as a great one-hour piece, which would have packed a punch by keeping the best material and trimming the excess fat. It was surprising to learn that this was a revisited work for Tankard, as the show felt as though it had been freshly devised and was yet to be fully edited and streamlined.
The performance space at Carriageworks allowed this show to experiment with staging choices usually difficult to achieve on stage, being much deeper and wider than many theatre stages in Sydney. This was wonderful to see, and the visual impact of staging and rich variation of movement made possible by a deeper space and an ensemble of fourteen meant that there was some exciting stuff taking place onstage. The ensemble was strong and clearly very committed to the work, which made the more powerful moments of the show really soar.
The collection of extraordinarily well-behaved live chickens placed at the rear of the stage was a nice touch too! With luck we’ll see more chickens on Sydney’s stages in the future.
Overall, VX18504 was too long and drawn out to really make an electrifying impact, but some exciting experimental work in physical theatre and some poetic moments of drama make it a show worth seeing.
Australian Theatre for Young People presents
Directed by Meryl Tankard
Venue: CarriageWorks, Bay 20, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh
Dates: Fri 25 – Sat 26 July and Tues 29 July – Sat 2 August, 8pm
Matinees: Thurs 24, Mon 28, Tues 29, Thurs 31 July and Fri 1 August, 11am
Tickets: $22 Adults / $18 Concession / $15 atyp members
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 723 038 or www.ticketmaster.com.au