By Lia Cocks
Blackrock and Nick Enright have been customary with drama school auditions around the country since the mid 90s, and with good reason.
Inspired by the true events of a young girls murder on Newcastle’s Stockton Beach in 1989, Enright was asked to write an education piece that examines the world of adolescence, mateship, violence, and relationships. He was then commissioned by Sydney Theatre Company to expand the play into a full length work, and Blackrock was debuted in 1995 to critical acclaim.
The town of Blackrock is shook when the body of a teenage girl is found the morning after a party, raped and murdered. The play does not depict the murder itself. Instead, the focus is on a teenager, Jared Kirby, torn between the choking culture of mateship and misogyny and the effect of Tracy’s death on her friends, the parents of those involved and the town.
Although the play is now over 30 years old, Enright’s depiction of Australian youth culture is still front and centre today. The objectification of young women, binge drinking, sexism and toxic masculinity are all issues we are confronted with and fighting against.
This production of Blackrock marks the second show for Glassroom Theatre Company, following their sold out season of Clanstow.
I immediately loved the location of Holden Street Theatres for this production and sat right at the front to feel the drama as much as possible. A simple and very effective set of black backdrop with rocks symbolising the beach, a couch and plant for the Ackland’s house, and table and chairs for Jared’s home he shares with his mother.
Director, producer and star Jack Cummins really is one to watch - on the stage and off. He plays the tortured and conflicted Jared with such commitment and assurity, I couldn’t take my eyes off him when he was onstage.
Two scenes stand out for me more than any others. The first being the revelation of Toby’s (Jai Pearce) involvement in the crime and the response of his parents. Toby’s sister Rachel, played brilliantly by Millie Sanford, has to watch as her parents focus on not what Toby did, but how to keep him out of jail. I felt proud of her for standing her ground but also frustrated at her family’s complete disregard and neglect of her.
The second standout was the scene of Ricko’s confession to Jared, and the violent confrontation that followed. This is when James Coates (Ricko) really became his character - dangerous, manipulative and brutal.
Well done to the support cast, with special mention to Ella Buckingham, who played the murdered girl Tracy’s best friend Cherie, Miraede Bhatia as Ricko’s long suffering, abused girlfriend Tiffany and Jade Ryles, Jared’s single mother Diane, who cannot communicate with her son about anything, especially not her breast cancer diagnosis.
Blackrock encourages a dialogue post show about the themes of ‘Aussie’ culture, slut-shaming and victim blaming which can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.
See it - and the outstanding cast of up and coming actors. Glassroom Theatre Company should be extremely proud of themselves.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.