Director: Jenna Kelly
There will be those of you out there that think that theatre going is ‘not your thing’, that it is ‘stuffy’ and ‘boring’ and you’d rather go to a movie or off to the pub. You’re wrong. It’s a brave act to step into a theatre and have a story acted out at you. You can’t close the book and walk away for a while—you’re there without seat belts and with no idea what kind of terrain you’re about to encounter. In a small theatre like The Darkroom in Palmerston North you might not expect to see anything exceptional—you’re wrong again.
Last night I took my teenage daughter to see Jenna Kelly’s version of Maya Levy’s Daughters. I’ll never forget it. I feel emotional trying to write this review and I want to find a way to implore you to go and see it without sounding like I’m trying to make a sales pitch or am getting royalties from ticket sales(I’m not). I don’t want to give much away either which limits what I can say…
Basically, Jenna has cast nine males to deliver the monologues of what were originally written as teenage girls’ narratives. Each monologue offers a glimpse inside the life of a teenager and covers topics such as gender norms, sexuality, social problems, drugs and so on. What stands out in these narratives is that even though they are being delivered by an all-male cast, there is almost no denying that they are all female voices. Imagine the ghost of a teenage girl wearing the flesh of a teenage boy. It is hauntingly beautiful.
I want to commend the whole cast for an excellent job but there were two stand-out acts for me. Callum Goacher brought tears to my eyes by showing powerful vulnerability in silent moments, and Léon Bristow hollowed out my chest and chucked my heart in my hands as a take home gift from his 18th birthday party. I’ve repeated a summary of Léon’s monologue to my family a few times now and have yet to manage it with dry eyes.
As this is a monologue driven show the use of props is at a bare minimum but when they are used they are powerful – never more so than in Léon’s act ‘Gift’.
While this show is at times traumatic it is also cleverly and tenderly delivered offering relief with some lighter and relatable content. There are laugh out loud moments and profound silences—just like real life. I’ll never forget this show.
When I got home my husband was watching the end of a sci-fi movie. I couldn’t help but notice how the actors were substandard compared with what I’d just experienced at the Darkroom. With all the movie’s special effects and ‘stars’ there was nothing but artificial emotion and a tired and clichéd story line. I got up and did the groceries on my iPad while it finished…
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