Review by Taylor Kendal
Everyone has something they regret about high school. Mistakes that were made, choices that make you cringe whenever they come to mind. Everyone has something. Everyone has without a doubt, reached a point in their life where they wondered ‘what if I had chosen differently?’
Well, for thirty minutes or so, you get the chance to, in a sense, try again.
From members of the VCA Theatre Co’22, (Jett Chudleigh, Lauren Swain, Iris Simpson, Ivy Crago, Maxine Palmerson, Chris Patrick Hansen, Molly Mechen, Daphne Gerolymou-Papadopoulos, Vitoria Hronopolos & Tahlia Jamison) comes the innovative and immersive choose your own adventure experience AKA (Also Known As). Taking part, you are invited to go back to a day in your high school life and make choices that will ultimately affect the path of your own narrative. Was there a name you wish you had in high school? Be it! An extracurricular you wish you had taken? Do it. Take a chance to be a teenager again in what is undoubtedly one of the most original and at the same time cringe inducing (in the best way) adventures during this year’s Fringe Fest.
Type the name you want, provide a few of your favourite things and you are introduced to AKA, your teenage self-consciousness who will guide you through a day in the life of being a teenager in year 10.
Right from the beginning, I was thrown back into a time not too long ago, and thanks to a whirlwind of various media on screen, I felt like I was a teenager again. The soundscape and imagery brought me back to a time of mindless chatter in locker bays, the scarring smell of Lynx body spray and the need to fit in when sometimes, it just isn’t possible. It is very clear from the beginning that the creative team has put so much thought, time and dedication into this experience to make it as realistic as possible, and they certainly do not disappoint.
During my first time playing (yes, I played more than once), I stuck as closely as I could to my teenage self, and the secondhand embarrassment was just as real as it was back then – and I do not say that as a negative. The teenage experience is embarrassing and terrifying and all kinds of painful that the creative team have captured so beautifully that it is truly remarkable.
As you go through your day, you are met with choices to make, forks in the road if you will, that will dictate what happens next. Accompanying these choices are various shifts into the narrative, such as Wiki how articles, messages from ‘parents’ and videos that explain normal feelings of discovery that can come with being a teenager, such as being drunk, sexual awakenings and getting high.
What I think makes it so real is the fact that it was created and devised as a collaboration, uniting what would have to be some universal fears and feelings about the hell that high school can be, and the talent that shines throughout in regards to the video, audio and graphic materials that were created and performed by the entire class. AKA (Also Known As) is a bright, fast paced cohesion of identifiable experiences and creative collaboration that is so unique in its conception and its creation, and the execution is one that should be applauded.
But despite the choices that can be made on this adventure, in the end, no matter the choice, we are reminded of one constant; you can’t go back, and you can’t change the past. The things that happened in those formative years have shaped you into who you are today, and you wouldn’t be you without them.
AKA (Also Known As) is a fun, engaging and relatable original piece of theatre that should be enjoyed by everyone who ever finds themselves reflecting on their high school selves. Running digitally until October 17. *Audience members should be advised of loud sounds and flashing lights, some partial nudity, frequent coarse language, and potentially triggering content or themes including drug use, drug references, alcohol use, sexual references, bullying references, mental health and the sound of gunfire.