By Lucinda Naughton
When I hear the word ‘millennial’ in a title, I admit I’m immediately sceptical as to whether the work will hold any substance. My word, does Disparate Scenes for Millennial Dreams quash this notion. Periscope Productions presents a collection of three plays that are beautifully crafted by three of Australia’s most promising young playwrights: Huge Indoor Plant Warehouse Sale by Ang Collins, Dawn Chorus in A Minor by Fiona Spitzkowsky, and Condo Osaka by Lewis Treston, who received a grant from the Seaborn, Broughton and Walford Foundation as their commission.
The three playwrights have created their own short plays, which all confront millennial frustrations and anxieties. While each piece is entirely different or ‘disparate’ from the next, they have collaborated their work so the pieces fit satisfyingly like jigsaw as they explore similar themes of uncertainty about the future, concern for the environment, spending too much on homewares, and inflating appearances on social media (perhaps the use of short plays reflects the millennial attention span). These themes are often joked about, however, are really the forefront of this generation’s fears that no one wants to confront, so it is very interesting to see them explored. The plays look at the millennial way of things in a genuine, heartfelt, and grippingly hilarious way from different perspectives, with a future glimpse at what could become of this world.
This theatre, while concerned with the millennial generation, certainly does not limit itself to a millennial audience. The script is so genuine and fresh thanks to the new playwrights’ talent and explores issues and relationships in a way that transcends being relevant to only millennials. While older generations may not completely appreciate every single joke, they will certainly still be able to relate to most of the content.
Benjamin Sheen (director and founder of Periscope Productions) directs Disparate Scenes for Millennial Dreams with astounding creativity and intrigue. Sheen impressively utilises the Meat Market Stables’ space so that it becomes a huge part of the experience and engagement of the work. I appreciated the balance of being incredibly interactive without direct audience participation. There are three spaces that the audience are taken through, so the constant moving keeps you on your toes while also proving symbolic of the millennial fast pace, shifting lifestyle. For instance, the first space you enter you’re immediately in the world of the play as there is an art exhibition on where the box office is and a ‘millennial’ drinks menu. Make sure you look around at the artworks on display and read their descriptions and before you know it, the lights dim, the audience hush curiously, and the play begins! An awesome way to start.
Fiona Spitzkowsky’s piece explores where we could be in twenty years’ time: a climate apocalypse where two friends, played by Conor Leach and Dana McMillan, are trying to catch a ride to safety. The two actors portray great depth and make great use of the space and prove consistently stimulating. The talent of Jess Keeffe’s sound design and composing (with CryClub’s additional music composition) is highlighted in this scene; the music is beautiful and eerie, adding millennial sounds very effectively.
In Lewis Treston’s highly entertaining piece, we are taken to the beautiful set design of a condo in Osaka. Adam Garner hilariously portrays an American meeting an Australian played by the lovable Toby Blome, who who both do the witty script great justice. Their chemistry builds exquisitely, and the serious truth is unleashed, hitting hard; Treston masters the arc. The contrast of truth and lie in the scene is very intriguing.
For Ang Collins’ piece, we enter a very familiar space - a plant store. The set captures the store perfectly. The owner, played hilariously by Clarisse Bonello has a new intern, played by Heather Riley, and boy do they share a disconnect. Impressive comic timing is displayed by both actors and they feed off each other so well and again I was taken aback by the depth and truth which this piece executes, exploring things from spending what we can’t afford, young love, to masturbation.
Disparate Scenes for Millennial Dreams is engaging, hilarious, and relevant. It is a very entertaining collaboration and even has a pop surprise at the end. Highly enjoyable and relatable theatre.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.