Review by Olivia Ruggiero
Natives by Glenn Waldron is a play that leaves you pondering and questioning the reason why this generation of digital natives seems at times so activist, so passionate about the world and its problems and yet at other times so self-centred, arrogant and entitled. Leaving the theatre there is a sense that the audience needs time to process the impact of what they have just witnessed. It’s not a play you can fully appreciate or evaluate in the moment, but one that lingers with you and becomes intrinsically more complex the more you think about it.
Charlie Vaux’s direction is exemplary. His intelligent blocking helps weave the three completely separate stories together to create something visually and emotionally evocative. The use of the space is genius – a simplistic set that aids in Vaux’s brilliant direction and allows the separate worlds of the characters to be formed in the mind of the viewer. The use of AV design and sound scaping only adds to Vaux’s dazzling direction. The only fault with the Av design was the positioning of the screen. Sight-lines can be an issue in a small traverse space and the screen was not entirely visible from all of the seats.
The lighting design is evocative of the emotional and physical states of the characters that are so brilliantly crafted by Fraser Crane, Sophie Strykowski and Ali Samaei. The actors are so individual and yet somehow in a completely unique way come together to form a cohesive cast. Crane channels the awkwardness of adolescence in his physicality and distinct teenage mannerism. His dialect work could use some finessing but funnily it does not detract from his performance. Samaei sneaks up on you – at first his character seems the most unrelatable, confusing and disjointed, but by half way through the show you are totally invested and cannot help but watch as his nuanced acting choices tug at your heart strings and force you to feel utterly entranced by him. Strykowski’s intense and rapid dialogue cuts through the space. Her voice is clear, her diction perfect and her choice of pace and pausing is superb. The dance sequence was possibly the most awkwardly, wonderful, and hilarious moment of theatre I have seen this year. Strykowski owns the space and holds her own. The physicality of all three actors was exceptional – a masterclass in movement.
Waldron’s script is clever, funny and poignant. His use of dialogue allows the actors to sink their teeth into something truly wonderful and rich. The play admittedly starts slow but by 20 minutes in, when you’ve grown used to the unconventional format of three completely separate people, on different continents, telling their own stories, you are completely immersed in the show. Waldron has created a script filled with brilliant, relatable monologues and excerpts for teenagers and adults (because somehow this digital generation – millennials are adults now) alike.
It’s excellent. It is all round excellent. If you missed this sparkling production of “Natives” you should be sorry. But if the opportunity arises to see Waldron’s play again – go. His words are well worth your time.