Left – Darcy Brown. Photo – Jeff Busby
“I’m a professional pain in the arse, selling things to wipe your arse” says Boy, the waifish teenager who goes door-to-door peddling life’s essentials, on behalf of the Mayor’s Young Offenders’ Scheme, in this one person play, Peddling; part of the MTC’s 2016 Education Season.
Its playwright, Harry Melling (best known for his role as Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter films), was inspired by a real life incident as a child, “I met this boy when I was eight. He came round our house, selling Marigolds and things. My dad opened the door and said, ‘Nothing today’, so he went away very politely. Then he just flipped – lost it – and started throwing stones at the house, swearing. I was in my mum’s bedroom looking down at him. That stayed with me.”
The play follows the day in the life of this disaffected youth on the fringe of society, as he tries to make sense of himself and his troubled upbringing – “I feel like I’m trapped inside a pinball machine” and find his place in the world, “where’s everyone gone? And why ain’t I invited?”
The text has a sense of urgency to it – it’s stream of consciousness interspersed with lyrical free-form snap rap – and delivered in a profoundly arresting, confronting and utterly convincing performance by Darcy Brown in his MTC debut.
He’s accompanied on this haunting journey by a killer live percussionist, Bec Matthews, whose beats directly interact signifying his subconscious, heartbeat & (quite possibly guardian angel) adding to the cacophony already inside Boy’s head.
The design team includes Marg Horwell (Set and Costume Design), Andy Turner (Lighting Design) and Kelly Ryall (Composer and Sound Design).
Horwell’s set, consisting of a spartan undulating skate/wave-like ramp, compliments the text, choreography & lighting, quite beautifully. Whilst Boy’s drab, ill fitting, bedraggled clothing reinforces these themes of neglect, tragedy and futility. Turner’s stunning lighting, brilliantly represents the menacing and terrifying ‘Bossman’ figure (a character not dissimilar to Oliver Twist’s, Fagin).
Director, Susie Dee, has served this piece well, collaborating with her design team to let the poetic and unflinching language be the focus of this production.
It’s a work of great emotion and forces us the audience to acknowledge that we are all products of our environment or rather, circumstance – lucky or otherwise.
Melbourne Theatre Company presents
by Harry Melling
Director Susie Dee
Venue: The Lawler | Southbank Theatre, Melbourne
Dates: 21 April – 6 May 2016
Bookings: 03 8688 0800 | mtc.com.au